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Harrah’s deal preserves
World Series

Jan 27, 2004 7:56 AM

The World Series of Poker, one of Las Vegas’ enduring institutions, will proceed as scheduled, despite the closing and pending sale of Binion’s Horseshoe, its home since its inception 34 years ago.

Officials for Harrah’s Entertainment, which agreed in principle to purchase the Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, vowed last week that the World Series will proceed as planned.

"This tournament has a long and colorful history, and we look forward to preserving the traditions that have made it the world-renowned phenomenon it is today," said Gary Loveman, president and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment.

Loveman added that more than $20 million in prize money is expected to be up for grabs at the 2004 World Series of Poker at Binion’s, which is scheduled to kick off on April 22.

Loveman said at a press conference last week that the legendary gathering that annually draws thousands of poker enthusiasts from dozens of countries to the downtown Las Vegas casino will continue as it has since the late casino legend Benny Binion started the tournament in 1970.

The World Series of Poker, widely regarded as the most prestigious competition of its kind, has been held at Binion’s Horseshoe since its inception.

Harrah’s agreed in writing last week to purchase the Horseshoe after it closed earlier this month. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Harrah’s has established a toll-free phone number (800-367-9767) in which those interested in the competition can get further information.

The month-long competition begins with a $2,000 buy-in limit hold ”˜em event and culminates with the $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold ”˜em world championship that kicks off May 22.

Between those dates, more than two dozen official tournament events and hundreds of satellite and live-action games will be conducted. The final event is expected to attract more than 1,000 entrants; last year’s winner took home a first prize of $2.5 million.

Harrah’s purchase of the downtown casino is subject to receipt of regulatory and other approvals.

Benny Binion hatched the idea for the World Series of Poker in the 1950s, when he hosted a high-stakes poker game between Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos — regarded by many as the best poker player of the day — and Johnny Moss, a Binion friend from Dallas.

Crowds gathered to watch the competition, and Binion immediately saw the value of the publicity the game generated.

In 1970, Binion recaptured the excitement of the original game when he launched the first World Series of Poker to crown a "World Champion." Poker greats from around the country descended on Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel & Casino for a chance at the title.

The tournament’s first winner was determined by popular vote. Later the competition evolved into its current format, a "freeze out" event, in which players are systematically eliminated until one player wins all the chips.