Jack Binion took a leisurely stroll along Memory Lane a few days ago, poking and spilling distant moments about the World Series of Poker, an event that started 50 years ago as a gathering of gamblers with Texas roots.
When did it all start? It turned out to be in Reno at Tom Moore’s casino.
“We got a call, this is 1968 from Vic Vickrey (casino manager for Moore’s Holiday Casino) and it sounds interesting. So we (Jack, his brother Ted and their father Benny Binion) went to Reno for what was called a “get-together for Texas gamblers.”
I suspect Moore and Vickrey are anticipating some heavyweight action at the table.
What did the Binion group expect? Oh, not much, maybe talking about the Binion family’s hopes for a business in Vegas visit KudaQQ.
The concept of events such as the World Series did not exist at that time. They returned to Las Vegas and their Horseshoe Club on Fremont Street, discussing a few days of fun and their games in Reno. They wanted the card room at the Horseshoe but had to wait until the time was right.
“The slots just generate too much money to pull them out for multiple poker tables,” said Binion.
The new WSOP started last week in Rio and will continue until mid-July. It’s been there every year since the World Series and the rights to use the Horseshoe name in Nevada were bought by Harrah’s in 2004. A flurry of industry consolidation saw Harrah acquire Caesars and then drop Harrah’s name from the top of the company. tent to a secondary level. The parent company is now Caesars Entertainment.
“The trip to Reno is where I first met Doyle (Brunson),” said Binion. “But there is no shortage of Texas gamblers who are familiar with the Horseshoe approach to the gambling business. The World Series of Poker is still a World Series with one change that is not too minor. This has become a giant event spanning the globe, bringing thousands of poker fans to Rio with the shopping power felt by hotels and casinos across the region.
The World Series “It’s the start and end of a fiscal year for the poker players I know best,” said Eric Drache, who was director of the event for about a dozen years starting in the early 70s. Drache has vivid memories of that period. She had migrated to Las Vegas from her childhood home in Brooklyn to joke that Vegas made sense because “My mother thought my handicap sucked.”
The 1972 World Series was the first to participate in the action. He showed up for a seven-card stud not knowing what to expect – several hundred players, maybe thousands? He reached the Horseshoe and learned that the game was KudaQQ.
“Johnny Moss played late the night before. The game will be postponed until he wakes up, ”Drache and Binion explained. By the time the first cards are dealt, there are eight wannabe heroes at the table. Binion laughs off the memory by saying, “We kind of feel a way forward in those days.” The feeling at the time was that Moss, the “old geezer” of poker, was entitled to a few extra hours of sleep. Better to have them at the table if possible. WSOP marketing is tough.
“We rely on word of mouth and some of the press,” Drache said. “My goal is just to have one player more than we had the year before.” Binion saw the benefit of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer appearing to write about the big game and interesting figures. He also noted that Preston’s “Amarillo Slim” victory in 1973 received widespread attention.
“Slim knows how to be colorful without trying and enjoys talking to the newspaper and TV crowd,” Binion said of Preston, which was the central idea of casting the humble Texas cowboy gambler. Moss’s fingerprints are in the early years of the World Series. Binion said the poker world champion in 1970 was decided not by any events but by the votes of the participants.
“We went to each participant and asked who they thought deserved honor,” said Binion. “Each one chooses for himself. So we went and asked, “Well, who do you think is second best?” That’s when most of them chose Moss. ”
Binion credits Drache with coming up with a satellite gaming system that has given thousands of men and women the chance to win seats at big games without making $ 10,000. Las Vegan Tom McEvoy took the opportunity and it paid off for him in 1985 when he entered the $ 100 satellite and played through hundreds of others, ending up on the final table in a championship match with Doyle Brunson and Rod Peate. Peate beat Brunson and then McEvoy played heads-up with Peate for about six hours before McEvoy finally won.
Jack Binion is no longer involved with the WSOP.
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