Poker History One of the most colourful characters to emerge on the Vegas scene in its early years was Texan-born Benny Binion, gambler, promoter and founder of the Horseshoe casino. 1949 Binion mounts a five-month poker game between Johnny Moss and Nick ‘the Greek’ Dandolos. 1951 Binion builds Horseshoe casino in downtown Las Vegas.
Binion sells a share to pay legal costs back in Texas. 1964 Binion regains full control of Binion’s Horseshoe but because he has no gaming license he cannot officially run the business. He is retained as a ‘consultant’ while his wife Jane and children (sons Jack and Ted, and daughters Becky, Barbara and Brenda) own the casino, on paper. 1970 Holds the first World Series of Poker event at the Horsehoe. 1983 Barbara Binion dies of drug overdose.
1986 Ted Binion arrested for a drug misdemeanour. 1993 & 1997 Ted Binion loses his gaming licence for drugs and mob affiliations. 1998 Becky Behnen – Benny’s daughter – becomes President of the Horseshoe casino and hotel after a long and protracted legal battle with her family. Jack Binion retains a small ownership. Ted Binion found dead.
1998-2004 Binion’s Horseshoe faces financial ruin and investigation by the Las Vegas Gaming Board and the IRS. It closes on a number of occasions pending investigation. 2004 Harrah’s Entertainment purchase Binion’s Horseshoe and it is reopened for business. 2005 MTR Gaming take over full ownership of the venue and rename it Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel.
The last year that any event in the founder’s WSOP tournament is held on its original site. • RG to Poker 007-099.indd 41 23/9/05 10:32:18 am 42
THE GAME OF POKER
parole, while Tabish was still serving a previous term for extorting a business associate. So how did Binion, the heir to a gambling empire die, and why were Tabish and Murphy accused? The reality could have walked off the pages of an Elmore Leonard novel. The story is a typical one of weakness, greed and opportunism. Binion was a colourful character – Vegas loves them –
Murphy an exotic dancer and Tabish a chancer with a record of extortion, assault and drugs. Having lost thousands of dollars at the tables, Murphy started dancing at the Cheetah Club, a topless bar, but soon started a relationship with the flamboyant Binion. Tabish first met Ted Binion standing at a urinal.