Binion's Horseshoe - Birthplace of the WSOP

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Binion's Horseshoe - Birthplace of the WSOP

In 2006, Jamie Gold won the final hand of the World Series of Poker and a record $12 million prize at the Harrah's owned Rio hotel on the Las Vegas strip. However, for all of the World Series of Poker's history up until then, the event was synonymous with the Binion's Horseshoe Casino.

when casino owner Benny Binion purchased the property in 1951. Binion was a bit of a showman, highly advertising his offer of "good food and good gamble" to whoever would listen. Benny Binion was intent on making the Horseshoe the place to go to gamble and play poker downtown. He did whatever he could to attract business, including decking out his casino, expanded from the Eldorado, with carpeted floors and a Western theme, featuring a pool on the roof, and offering the highest limits in town.

Binion loved publicity, even displaying a million dollars, at the time an immense sum of money, in a glass case in the middle of his casino. In 1969, he stumbled upon the ultimate publicity stunt. Binion observed a gathering of poker players in Reno where the best poker players in the world competed in a series of games of Texas Hold em all week long. Remembering the popularity to spectators of a match he had set up years earlier between Johnny Moss and Nick "The Greek" Dandalos, Binion decided to bring the action to the Horseshoe. Thus, the World Series of Poker was born, and it would remain at the Horseshoe for over thirty years.

As the years went on, troubles beset the Binion family. Benny's son Ted had a life fraught with scandal and he was eventually murdered, a tale recounted in Jim McManus' poker tome "Positively Fifth Street." Son Jack and daughter Becky fought bitterly over control of the business, with Becky coming out the victor. Despite the growing popularity of the World Series of Poker, the Horseshoe did not flourish under Becky's management, and in 2004, she was forced to sell the hotel, and all rights to the World Series of Poker, to Harrah's Entertainment. In 2005, the final table of the World Series was held at Binion's; the last time this would ever be the case.

Binion's as most old time gamblers knew it is now gone, and many of the new World Series of Poker stars will probably have never set foot in the Horseshoe Casino, but it will always remain an indelible part of World Series of Poker history.

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