It’s interesting to reflect on how many top gaming executives were once sharp poker players. Bobby Baldwin at MGM Mirage and Lyle Berman of Lakes Entertainment and the World Poker Tour come to mind.
Of course, we can’t forget Bill Boyd. In fact, Bill was a legendary poker room manager and the man who introduced Texas hold’em poker to Las Vegas.
Bill was the best of the best, and was always in the room playing with all the other players. He was always in charge of everything. Nothing escaped his personal attention, and most of the time he was dressed in a navy blue suit with a sharp tie.
I never remember any player ever talking back or giving him any trouble in how he ran his room, and the shift bosses and dealers that he trained have grown up to be in charge of many of the card rooms and poker tournaments of today.
I would do an injustice to those that I omit if I tried to name them, but the poker people that he trained are some of the best in the industry today and their numbers are legion.
Bill was a railbird’s best friend and would put them to work, if they would work, and was always good for a small stake — a meal, a room, or a loan, and if a player were to go broke, he could always get car fare from Bill.
I don’t think I was ever playing in his poker room when I did not get to enjoy playing a few hands with him. He was the man, to learn how to play, how to manage, and how to be a gentleman gambler. I try to be a fast learner and he taught me many lessons on how to play all the different games in his room.
You may want to know that in the 1950s two of the players (names withheld to protect the guilty) from my home poker game from back in Tulsa brought the game of Baja Oklahoma Hold’em poker and introduced the game to Bill. You may want to call the game Texas Hold’em, but everyone knows that Texas is "Baja Oklahoma."
Bill liked the action of the game and it became one of the favorite poker games of Bill’s room and players came from all around the world to play Texas Hold’em at Bill’s poker room in the Golden Nugget.
Bill was acknowledged to be the best five-card stud player in the world and would play high stakes head-to-head freeze-outs with anyone. He taught me a few more lessons and I had to concede to him as being my master.
However, I did enjoy his teaching and used them on other poker players, but I could never get the best of Bill.
As a final act I attended Bill’s funeral in Las Vegas, and listened to all the nice things that were said about him by many people. Most of the poker world was at the funeral as well as people from all walks of life who wanted to pay their last respects to a true "Gentleman Gambler."
Bill was one of the founding directors of The Mirage, and the eulogy was given by none other than Steve Wynn.
Gaming tip of the week: Do not gamble when you are mad at someone. Mad players lose.
Until next time, remember to stay lucky!