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Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, Personal, World Series of Poker | 2 comments

Digging through the Dust: How the 2004 World Series of Poker Almost Didn’t Happen

 

nolan-dalla-at-binions

The winter of WSOP discontent, in 2004 just before the re-opening.

 

Writer’s Note:  Ten years ago this week, the World Series of Poker was held for the last time in its entirety at Binion’s Horseshoe.  What few people know is — the series almost didn’t happen that year.  A few months after Chris Moneymaker’s victory ignited the poker boom, the casino was boarded up, padlocked by federal marshals, and eventually sold off to Harrah’s Entertainment.  The shuttered building sat dark and vacant during the entire winter of 2004.  Yet somehow, by April 23rd the casino was re-opened for business again was ready to host the 35th annual WSOP.  This is the story of how that remarkable poker series came to be, against all odds.

 

 

Binion’s Horseshoe was a total fuckhouse.

Sure, it was a great place to work when I was there.  And I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.  But not everyone saw it that way.

By the time the doors were nailed shut and boarded over with plywood in January of 2004, more than 800 former employees were flushed out into the streets looking for work.  That might not seem like a big deal.  People lose jobs all the time.  But the vast majority of former Horseshoe workers had been around for years, like barnacles attached to a sunken ship.  They weren’t just part of the local scene — they were the scene.  They’d given their lives to the Binion Family and that grand old building so embarrassingly out-of-touch with the times.  Now here they were — mostly older people with retirement plans now stripped away — having to hustle to find a job.

Being somewhere over the rainbow in years made things difficult enough.  But then there was the baggage each carried on their backs.  One by one we gradually came to realize how deep-rooted our outlaw reputations were within the casino industry.  We weren’t black sheep.  We were child molesters.  No one wanted anything to do with us.

Being a former Horseshoe employee was like wearing The Scarlet Letter.  Most former employees who I kept in touch with had serious difficulty finding work.  After so much rejection, the explanation became painfully obvious.  Why else were so many good people with multiple years of casino experience not getting hired anywhere else — especially on The Las Vegas Strip which at the time was going through a boom period?

As phone calls went unreturned and rejection letters piled up, rather than tout one’s experience as a laid-off Horseshoe employee, some of my former associates began doing what was unthinkable.  They left blank spaces on their resumes.  If some nosy interviewer in personnel somewhere got curious and asked where they’d been working the past three years, the applicant might as well respond with “serving time.”  It was pretty much the same thing.  Being associated with the Horseshoe was like getting out of a prison and looking for work while out on parole.

But I was far luckier than most.

In fact, I was probably the luckiest former Horseshoe employee of all.

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Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Blog, Las Vegas, Talking Points | 4 comments

My Latest “Talking Points” Video — Unusual Las Vegas News Stories

 

Hillary Clinton Addresses Recycling Industries Trade Conference In Las Vegas

Hillary Clinton dodges a shoe thrown by a deranged protester at Mandalay Bay

 

Las Vegas is a city unlike any other.

That’s because there’s more than a few unusual people here who sometimes do some crazy things.

Take this week’s local news stories.  All of the following stories were reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

 

— A deadbeat rancher backed a heavily-armed militia makes the federal government back down following a standoff

— A deranged woman slips past security and throws a shoe at Hillary Clinton, while at a speaking engagement

— Comedian George Wallace performs at a local casino and then wins a huge lawsuit after tripping over one of the electrical wires while onstage

— A drug-addicted dancer gets into a brawl backstage at the “Thunder Down Under” male revue

— A 25-year-o9ld woman agrees to give a 66-year-man a “massage” at 3 am, but things go wrong

 

This week’s edition of “Talking Points with Nolan Dalla” includes a short recap of what’s in the news here in Las Vegas.  This video runs about 15 minutes.

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Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Blog, Las Vegas, Politics | 3 comments

A Republican House Divided

 

bunkerville-nevada

 

Two inexplicable events happened this past weekend here in Southern Nevada.

First, a heavily-armed mob numbering more than a thousand gathered just outside the small town of Bunkerville, which is about 80 miles from Las Vegas.  The mob gathered in support of an outlaw rancher who admits he owes the national treasury more than a million dollars in fees and back payments.  He’s openly defied several court orders and continues to ignore federal laws which presumably govern everyone else, but obviously don’t apply to him.

About the same time, a similiar number of Nevada Republicans held their semi-annual convention at the South Point Casino, in Las Vegas.  Delegates and party loyalists met on Saturday and Sunday to hammer out a new state platform and endorse a slate of candidates for the upcoming primaries.

While these events might seem unrelated, the two groups that assembled a little more than an hour’s drive apart have essentially come to define today’s conservative movement — not just here in Nevada, but across many western states.

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Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Blog, Las Vegas, Politics, Rants and Raves, Talking Points | 3 comments

My Rant Against the Republican National Convention Coming to Las Vegas (Video)

 

las-vegas-strip

 

“My message to Republicans considering holding their 2016 national convention in Las Vegas is this….STAY OUT!  WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE!”

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In the news today, the far-right wing of the Republican Party (translation:  THE REPUBLICAN PARTY) made it official.

They oppose the 2016 Republican National Convention being held in Las Vegas.

Shocker!

Las Vegas had been reported as one of the early frontrunners to host the next national convention.  If either major political party were to hold its gathering in Las Vegas, that would indeed be big news for our fair city, which still seems determined to try and diversify its image and shed its association with gambling (and other forms of “vice”).

Meanwhile, most of us frankly don’t care what anyone else thinks of us.  We’re perfectly happy to live here and let everyone think we’re a bunch of gangsters.  Maybe that will keep people from moving here.  Well on second thought, given that Las Vegas has been one of America’s fastest-growing cities for the past decade, maybe not.

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Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Blog, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews, Rants and Raves | 5 comments

Review of Zucchero at House of Blues (Las Vegas)

 

album-cover-bassa

 

Last night, Italian blues singer Zucchero played his first Las Vegas gig in 15 years.  He performed at House of Blues, an intimate concert venue inside Mandalay Bay.

To say this was one of the musical highlights of the year (for me) would be an monumental understatement.  I own everything put out by Zucchero since his career first began in the mid-1980s, including his latest album release titled Bassa, which includes live sessions performed last year in Cuba with some of the best (and least-known) musicians in the world.

Zucchero, which means “sugar” in Italian (real name: Adelmo Fornaciari), brings it, and then gives it.  He loves what he does, which is obvious from his two-hour sets and plenty of unexpected and unrehearsed impromptu show-stopping moments.  There’s no lip-syncing in this show.  It’s entirely authentic from start to finish.  He’s not the best singer, or guitar player, or pianist, of course.  But combine his passion with the gift of melody and he’s the real deal.  At last night’s House of Blues show, he essentially performed every song we wanted to hear, then stayed for three encores.

Virtually unknown inside the United States, Zucchero is enormously popular over in Europe, especially his native Italy and throughout Eastern Europe.  He’s performed duets with everyone from Luciano Pavarotti to John Lee Hooker (before they died, obviously).  ZUCCHERO’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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