WSOP from Denver snow

April 15, 2008 7:00 PM
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Back in the Saddle by Johnny Hale | Carol, do you remember when we used to vacation each year in Vail, Colorado?

We never did ski that much but if was fun to try. I remember one year in the early 1960s when it was really snowing in all of the high country of Colorado and we were snowed in at the old mile-high Stapleton Airport in Denver.

We were trying to return to Las Vegas and play a little poker. I was sitting on a bench at the airport next to a man who was glancing at the pages of a newspaper.

He was sort of a pudgy fellow with a cowboy Western look about him and I noticed that he had gold coins for buttons on his shirt.

I instantly related to him and since there was nothing else to do, I introduced myself to him saying that I was traveling from Tulsa to Las Vegas.

He said "Well, I’m going to Las Vegas, too. I own a little club out there." And then he told me all about his "little club," – the Horseshoe Club in downtown Vegas.

"Occasionally on a Saturday afternoon, a few of the fellas, mostly Sunday school teachers, a couple of professors, old ranchers, a retired judge or two, and a few of the elite of the town will gather up and come over to my club for a little game," he said.

Of course, Benny Binion was talking about the beginning of the World Series of Poker.

These "old-age school teachers and retired preachers" that came to play with him were none other than Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim, Bill Boyd, Puggy Pearson, Curt Gaudy, Dolly Brunson and Titanic Thompson.

Well, I did go down and play with the fellas – and this was the beginning of the WSOP. There is a statue of Benny in a little area down by the old Horseshoe.

Benny is still in the saddle and will be galloping down the Strip to a new corral being built at the new South Point Casino and Hotel.

Benny is a member in good standing in "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker/Poker Players Hall of Fame.

Tip of The Week

My father G.N. Hale (the greatest poker player of my lifetime) once said, "Son, if you cannot lay down the best hand sometimes, most of the time you will go home broke.