All The Rage

The Image staff muses on the culture of
keeping up appearances

« Previous Post | All The Rage Home | Next Post »

Gifts with a Presidents' Day twist: Political poker face

February 19, 2011 |  8:23 am

Can’t read my p-p-p poker face, as Gaga would say. For good reason, there’s a very long and storied tradition of poker-playing in the White House — this game’s the ultimate presidential favorite, hands down. Barack Obama is known to play a mean game of Texas Hold ’Em. In fact, a former fellow Illinois state senator once told Time magazine: “If he runs his presidency the way he plays poker, I’ll sleep good at night.” Warren Harding’s advisors were known as “the poker cabinet” and our 29th president reportedly bet (and lost) an entire set of White House china in one hand.

Grant Richard Nixon reputedly used hefty winnings from a long stint of poker games in the U.S. Navy during World War II to fund his first political campaign in 1946. Presidents George W. Bush, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant (left), Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman also all played regular hands at the White House.Adler

For a suitably dignified poker set, we present The Eléments Coffret Poker Set by Hermès, top,  (300 poker chips plus two decks of silver-edged cards in a grey sycamore, cedar-lined box with calfskin top, $8,900 at Hermès stores or [800] 441-4488.) We also like the repp stripe boys club tie-in on the Jonathan Adler lacquer poker chip set at right ($135 at

-- Ingrid Schmidt

Photos, from top:  Elements poker set, credit: Hermes; President Ulysses S. Grant, credit: Library of Congress; Adler poker chips, credit: Jonathan Adler

Sunday: Time in Office