There was a time many years ago when Las Vegas was often ridiculed, privately and publicly, for being a heartless community, a place where dreams went to die.
Movies like “One from the Heart,” and “Leaving Las Vegas,” and “Indecent Proposal” reinforced that image.
But several events, small and large, have occurred over the last several years to shatter that perception. The most significant was our community’s response to the October 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Following one of the worst public tragedies in American history, in which 58 lives were lost and hundreds of others physically and emotionally damaged, the country saw how the Las Vegas community wrapped its arms around the survivors and the families of the victims and do all it could to provide comfort and support.
Vegas Strong became a motto that resonated around the country, and is still seen on t-shirts and signs throughout the city.
The Vegas Golden Knights, which became the first major league professional sports team to represent Las Vegas, had the imposing challenge of opening its first season within days of that tragedy. No one would argue that they met the task masterfully. These recently transplanted hockey stars treated their new city like it was their hometown. The players could be seen all over town participating in events that helped the victims.
Those of us who’ve lived in Las Vegas for decades appreciate that these acts of warmth and kindness from the more fortunate among us are not out of the norm. Successful people in southern Nevada have always reached out to worthwhile causes and those less fortunate whenever an appeal is made.
An upcoming example will be the second staging of the Keep Memory Alive’s Texas Hold ‘Em Charity Poker Tournament on Friday, Sept. 27, from 5:30-9 p.m. The event is being hosted again by Jack Binion, who could be considered the grandfather of professional poker in the world at large.
When Jack and his father Benny, who owned the Horseshoe Casino, first gathered some of their friends for a little card game some 50 years ago, they had no idea that a bluffer’s field day would grow into an annual celebration that would attract 10,000 entrants, be nationally televised for weeks on end, and turn unknown card players into celebrities.
One of Jack’s friends who was equally responsible for the growth of poker worldwide and was one of the tournament’s early champions, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, will be competing again this year. Other celebrity entrants of note are Barry and Allyn Shulman, Jack McClelland, Jon Taffer, David Williams, and Dewey Tomko.
All the proceeds of the tournament will support the work being done by the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Brain Center, and players of all experience levels are encouraged to participate with some of the biggest names in the sport. Guests will enjoy exquisite cuisine and beverage options from Greene St. Kitchen and Casa Dragones.
The Ruvo Center has become world famous over the last decade for its winning fight against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Anyone who has observed the career of Larry Ruvo has witnessed how he has parlayed his business success into giving back to his community. There is the architectural marvel designed by Frank Gehry that houses his talented researchers and physicians, and the decades of contributions his famous liquor company has made to the growth of UNLV. The charity poker tournament is yet one more outlet for Larry’s Las Vegas friends and admirers to contribute to a worthy cause.
It was the long-held policy of Binion’s Horseshoe from its earliest days that any bet would be accepted in the casino, up to a million dollars or even more, as long as it was the first bet placed. The Binions didn’t want customers building a stockpile of cash off smaller bets, and then hurting them with the casino’s money. Their savvy is why they owned casinos rather than gambled in them.
Jack Binion isn’t looking for huge bets in this month’s Keep Memory Alive poker tournament. He’s just looking for a huge turnout of participants who want to sit at tables among the greats of the sport and contribute to a cause that is vitally important. I’m sure he’ll get it.
It’s what Las Vegas has been doing for years.