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Men Of Action: Benny Binion, The Cowboy Gangster

Father of the WSOP and Vegas Legend’s Early Days

by Bob Pajich |  Published: Jun 26, 2013

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The newspaper men and photographers fell in love with the wrinkly moon-faced cowboy named Benny Binion, playing host at his Horseshoe Casino, the literal grandfather of a new poker tournament called the World Series of Poker, shaking everyone’s hands. It was the way he talked and the way he moved. He had credibility as a real Texas operator, a genuine person in a world of fakes and schemers. Although, earlier in his life, the media attention nearly got him killed several times, things have changed so drastically he paid for the media’s airfare to cover his WSOP. If Nick “the Greek” Dandolos was the Prince of Vegas in those early years (a man who would “put a snake in your pocket and ask for a match”, Binion said), then good old Lester “Benny” Binion was the saloon owner who only pretended to be dumb when, in fact, he was, most ...


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