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Benny Binion
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    (November 20, 1904-December 25, 1989)
    Born in Pilot Grove, Texas
    Birth name was Lester Ben Binion
    Bought the El Dorado Club and Apache Hotel in Las Vegas and opened them as Binion’s Horseshoe Casino (1951)
    Organized the first World Series of Poker (1970)
    Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame (1990)
    He was a bootlegger.
    He was a numbers runner.
    He received a two-year suspended sentence for killing a fellow numbers runner (1931).
    He headed the Southland Syndicate, controlling illegal gambling in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
    He was suspected (but never convicted) of murdering at least four rivals in the Dallas gambling rackets.
    He was sentenced to five years in prison for income tax evasion (1953).
    He lost his gambling license, but was able to transfer management of his casino to family members.
    He had to flee Dallas when the Chicago mob began taking over the rackets after WWII.
    He received death threats from rival casino owners after raising the craps table limit at Binion’s to $500 (ten times higher than at his competitors).
    His was the first Vegas casino to offer free drinks to players.
    His philosophy for dealing with customers was ‘Make little people feel like big people… Good food, good whiskey cheap, and a good gamble.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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