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The Atomic Poker Briefing - Poker Story

There have been a few US presidents who have really enjoyed a good game of poker and some who have even had the habit of mixing this particular pleasure with his business.

TrumanThe story goes that not long before the end of the Second World War, US President Harry S. Truman was taking a few days rest on board the USS Augusta. It is said that most of the journey aboard ship he played poker with members of the White House press corps.

He would begin play at 8:30 a.m. and continue right through until midnight. After a while, the Secretary of State James Byrnes asked United press reporter Merriman Smith why he and his friends would not leave the president alone and why they were continually encouraging him to play poker.

"Leave him alone?" Merriman Smith replied, "We don't start these games - he does" came the reply

It was during the time that he was on board the Augusta that Harry S. Truman first revealed details of the existence of the atomic bomb and during these poker games he explained to his friends from the press corps its history, development and even the intention to use the atomic bomb in Japan over Hiroshima.

The briefings were strictly organised for 8 a.m. so that all the players could ante up and deal the cards promptly as usual at 8:30 a.m.

Read more about Harry S. Truman Poker Player (The National Archives)

More Poker Stories, Poker Anecdotes

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Ike Call?

Another US President who loved the game of poker was 'Ike' Eisenhower. It is said that he was taught to play poker as a young boy by an old Kansas woodsman by the name of Bob Davies. Eisenhower recalled:

"We played four matches and whenever my box of matches was exhausted, I'd have to roll in my blankets and go to sleep"

More about Dwight D. Eisenhower