STEADY LOSER SEEMS A SAFE BET
by Ken Fink
Picture at Grand Casino Poker Room sitting
at a Holdem Poker table
holding two Aces with a third Ace in the Flop with caption:
It's been aces high in the casinos for gambler John Turmel, but
he folded 44 times in political elections in his native Ottawa,
Canada. Turmel who campaigns on an "Abolish Interest" platform, says
he owns nothing and pays no taxes. The money he makes gambling keeps
him on the road spreading his message about a bartering system with
LUCKY AT CARDS, A BUST AT POLITICS
There's an experienced
politician in town, but don't expect any
sweat on the brow of Gulfport Mayor Bob Short. Biloxi mayor A.J.
Holloway isn't shivering. U.S. Senator Trent Lott? Forget about
it. John C. Turmel is no threat.
"And Guinness didn't even include the last three," said the man
who lost three elections last year alone, but ironically makes a
living as a professional gambler. Turmel, 46, of Ottawa, Canada, is
listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having lost more
elections than anyone - 44 to be exact. He arrived on the Coast two
weeks ago and plans to stay another two weeks working in the poker-
room at the Grand Casino in Biloxi.
He has run for mayor, prime minister and membership in Canada's
Parliament. Lost them all. So was he even close? "No, no," said the
accomplished accordionist, poet and independent candidate. "I got
between one and two percent of the vote. Not everyone's stupid."
Turmel's only platform calls for the abolition of interest rates
and implementation of a bartering system that would make it possible.
And when he climbs aboard his soapbox, it is with boisterous
exuberance. "Most people are brainwashed from birth that you have to
pay interest," Turmel said. "
Turmel said he can avoid paying taxes by owning "nothing but my
socks." He claims he has not paid taxes since 1979. And ironically,
the man called "a world-record loser" makes his living betting on
cards. Turmel and his long-time companion, Pauline Morrissette,
travels the country, saying in hotels and spending up to 12 hours a
day in gambling houses playing the only game he loves - poker. THe
said he has no plans to marry.
And electrical engineer, Turmel is a self-admitted card counter
and has developed poker "power" strategies that assure him winnings,
he says. In fact, turmel said he once operated a gambling house, but
in 1994, police in Canada shut it down and threw him in jail because
gambling was illegal. Turmel claims he made a million dollars in the
six months leading up to his arrest and gave it away. "I knew the cops
weren't going to let me keep it, so I gave it away," he said.
Turmel also uses money he earns gambling to further his Local
Employment Trading System, or LETS. The computer-driven bartering
system software is available on the Internet at www.u-net.com/gmlets.
Turmel admits that his tax-exempt lifestyle of rambling from hotel to
hotel will not last forever. But he hasn't finished his campaign for
office, which he admits is a forum to publicize the LETS program.
One thing is for sure, there will be another election just around
the corner. "As soon as there's another election," said the man shoe
trademark is a hard hat, "I'll be there."
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