Alvin Thomas “Titanic Thompson” was rarely called by this real name; everyone had such respect and fear towards him. He was called the “Titanic” because his prowess on the cards table was such that he could sink anyone.
No matter what the game, Titanic Thompson would be involved. He was one of the greatest gamblers of the 1900s. He would bet on everything from poker to blackjack to snooker to golf and even on target shooting. Most of his wins were legit, but Titanic Thompson had no problem bending the rules to get ahead.
Thompson’s life has been retold in a brilliant biography. The book is written by Kevin Cook. Those who knew him best talk about how he would be dead in the eyes most of the time. The only time he would light up with joy and anticipation was right before making a big bet. It was his calling in life and his greatest passion. He was never happier during those days.
The famous Thompson even managed to scam one of the greatest mobsters of all time: Al Capone. His legend goes well beyond the poker table or the horse racing track. He was such a superstar that a well published crime novelist decided to add Thompson to one of his stories. Damon Runyon wrote about a character named Sky Masterson, who was based on Thompson’s personality.
Making money is the one thing that gave Thompson great pride. He grew up in a poor family and had nothing to his name when he was a teenager. He fought hard for every penny that came his way. Despite earning millions through gambling, he also spent most of that money before his passing. When he died in 1974, he hardly had a penny to his name. He was a great gambler, but also a lonely man who had no real family or home.