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The Owl, Magic Man
were tough

Oct 5, 2004 1:32 PM

Once upon a time in Las Vegas ”¦

There was a poker room that was located in the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street in old downtown Las Vegas. This was long before the Fremont Street Experience.

I played in this poker room 50 odd years ago — from the late 1950s until it was closed. The poker room was moved from location to location around the casino floor, but when it was located up front near the Fremont Street east door, it was said that if you played in the game long enough, everyone that you ever knew or played poker with would come through that door.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Steve Wynn was able to gain control of the Golden Nugget. One of the first things he did was bring the world champion poker player, Bobby Baldwin (sometimes known as The Owl) on board and peace arrangements were made with all the other downtown casinos for good business reasons. One of those reasons was the fact that the Golden Nugget had no hotel and the only place to build a new modern five star hotel was to close Carson Street.

As there was peace downtown and it was good business for all the casinos, a new hotel was built on what once was Carson Street. It was the Golden Nugget Hotel.

Wynn always does things first class so, I am sure with Bobby’s help, they designed and staged one of the biggest poker promotion ever dreamed of; it was The Grand Prix of Poker.

This poker tournament had everything that a poker player could ever want. For example, the grand prize for winning the best all around player award was a very large motorboat complete with hauling trailer. The price tag for this prize was many, many thousands of dollars. I competed to win that boat — but lost out to one of my friends, a very good poker player by the name of Action Jackson.

However; I did manage a RIPLEY’S BELIVE IT OR NOT while playing in the Grand Prix of Poker. I did this

by playing in two major poker tournament events simultaneously. Yes, I reached the final table in both poker events at the same time and Eric Drake, the tournament director, placed the two final tables end to end. I played in the number two seat at one table and the seven seat at the other table. I would play one poker hand at one final table and then turn around and play the next hand in the other poker game at the other final table.

I finished third in one event and fifth in the other.

The Golden Nugget poker room awarded me a special trophy to commemorate this event. The trophy is now in "The Seniors" poker museum in lobby of the Crystal Park Hotel in Los Angeles.

I played one of the last hands of poker that night with Bill R. Boyd, the legendary poker room manager of the Golden Nugget before the room was closed, and the poker game was moved across the street to Binion’s Horseshoe.

I have to go now because I want to play in a $500 no-limit hold ’em tournament. It should be really easy to win — only eight or 10 of the world champions will be playing! But I promise next week to return to the story and tell you more about the closing of the poker room at the Golden Nugget.

Oh, yes, before I go let me give you the "Oklahoma Johnny" poker tip of the week.

When you are playing Texas Hold’em poker — NEVER PLAY IN AN UNRAISED POT. Always raise a little — if someone else has not already done so, you must clean up the blinds and get them out of the pot, don’t let the little blind and the big blind, have a free flop.

If you do not kill those blinds in the spring, they will kill you in the fall.

Until next time, remember to stay lucky.