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New Book by Ralph Crosby Reveals How Cards and Other Games Impacted the Presidency – From Washington to Biden


A new book, “Poker, Politics & Presidents,” by author Ralph W. Crosby reveals the significant influence card-playing and other games had on U.S. presidents – from George Washington to Joe Biden – and, therefore, impacted all Americans. It illustrates how almost all presidents played games and used these and additional pastimes to escape the overbearing stresses of the presidency. The book also shows how cognitive games, such as poker and chess, went far beyond stress relief, creating a link between those games and politics.

Crosby also discusses how numerous presidents used the camaraderie of poker games to their political advantage, some creating contacts that helped their rise to the presidency. It also details the author’s discovery that the highest-rated presidents were card players, which helped in their strategic thinking, risk-taking, bluffing and ability to read their opponents, including their political adversaries and the country’s enemies.

Little-known personal anecdotes and presidential life experiences enliven the stories, including the following:

  • George Washington keeping track of his many gambling wins and losses in his diary.
  • Thomas Jefferson playing cards while writing the Declaration of Independence.
  • Theodore Roosevelt becoming accepted by New York saloon, backroom pols by playing poker with them, thus jump-starting his political career.
  • Franklin Roosevelt cheating at his weekly White House poker game.
  • Harry Truman playing cards while awaiting the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
  • Dwight Eisenhower buying his first officer’s military uniform and his future wife Mamie’s wedding ring with his West Point poker winnings.
  • Richard Nixon financing his first congressional campaign with his World War II Navy poker winnings.
  • Barack Obama amassing political support through poker games with fellow legislators.

“Poker, Politics & Presidents” is available on Amazon and through local book stores. For more information, contact Kelsi Fink at kfink@crosbymarketing.com.


Ralph W. Crosby has spent a multifaceted career as a journalist, author and marketer. Currently, he is chairman of Crosby Marketing Communications, a national advertising/PR firm he founded in 1973. The company is one of the nation’s most successful independent PR firms, with 120 employees and offices in Annapolis, Md., and the Washington, D.C., area.

A graduate of the University of Maryland College of Journalism, Crosby began his professional life as a newspaperman in Baltimore, later becoming a White House correspondent and magazine writer during the Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson presidential years, culminating his journalistic career in 1972 as an editor with the Kiplinger organization. He has published three previous books and numerous articles in national magazines, lectured at the University of Maryland and taught writing courses at Anne Arundel Community College.

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