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Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas | 5 comments

The Closing of Binion’s Horseshoe (Conclusion)



Photo by Ulvis Alberts (2002 WSOP)


Note:  This is the final segment in my trilogy on the closing of Binion’s Horseshoe, which happened ten years ago last week (January 9th, to be exact).  Read PART 1 here and PART 2 here.


I needed a band.

Not just any band, but a country-western band.  And I didn’t know shit about country music.  Didn’t know where to go.  Didn’t know where to turn.

Just three days removed from the start of the 2003 National Finals Rodeo and 85,000 cowboys trucking into town, the transformation of Binion’s Horseshoe was nearly complete.  Slot machines and gaming tables had been wheeled out.  A dance floor the size of a full-length basketball court was in place.  A brightly-lit elevated stage had been especially constructed for the occasion and made the Horseshoe suddenly appear as inviting as any real nightclub in the city with live music.  Sixty-two cocktail tables were positioned around the dance floor’s perimeter.  Candles were even found in the warehouse and were placed upon the tabletops, so smokers could light up easily (this was before many casinos instituted non-smoking policies).  Giant metal tubs were set up about to be stacked with ice-cold longnecks.  We smoked enough bar-be-cue to feed half of Las Vegas.  The party was about to begin.

Only, we needed a band.

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Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas | 3 comments

Another Gavin Smith Story



Drinking with Gavin Smith last night


Gavin Smith and I go back many, many years.  More cocktails, laughs, and hangovers than I care to remember.  Let’s just say I knew Gavin before he became infamous.

Last night, we added to another chapter to the encyclopedia of stories you wouldn’t believe.

Gavin and I agreed to meet at a locals hangout on Fort Apache, on the west side of town.  By the time I arrived, right on time mind you, Gavin already had an empty glass parked in front of him.

I had put the over/under on our session at 90 minutes.  That’s what I told Marieta, anyway.  Main reason was — I had plenty of things to do that night and I wasn’t going to let myself get carried away inside a bar with Gavin.

Four hours later, we were still hunched over our bar stools drinking and laughing.  Gavin can be such a terrible influence.

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Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Blog | 18 comments

Ten Years Ago Today: The Closing of Binion’s Horseshoe (Part 1)




Today is January 9th, 2014.

Ten years ago today, a Las Vegas landmark was forcibly shut down.

Binion’s Horseshoe, the crumbling ruin of a former empire and the final vestige of the Old West that had once transformed dusty Las Vegas into a neon-lit magnet of vice, shuddered its windows and padlocked its doors.  The official order to close came by hand when a posse of armed U.S. Marshals barged in the front entrance, went straight to the casino cage, and presented a legal notice to confiscate all the cash inside.  Gaming operations were to cease immediately.

Federal marshals and agents from the Nevada Gaming Board ended up as the Horseshoe’s last guests.  It was a sad final chapter of what had been a ruinous downfall, a stunning tumble from being widely beloved as a true gambler’s paradise and the poker pinnacle of the world, topped by the crown jewel of hospitality.  And this was all about to disappear.  Forever.

I was there when it ended.  When everything came crashing down.  When many lives were wrecked temporarily, if not ruined for a long time.  When tears were shed.  When there was no time to say goodbyes.

The rise of Binion’s Horseshoe has been well-documented.  Today, I’ll like to share some stories about the downfall.

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Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in Blog, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Zarkana is Like Eating Last Night’s Leftovers




Zarkana is the latest production in Cirque du Soleil’s wildly-popular global franchise which combines extraordinary acrobatic feats with live original music and the art of dance.

Playing two shows nightly Thursday-Monday at the Aria in Las Vegas, ticket prices range from $81 to $176, with regular discounts given for locals (just show a Nevada drivers license for a 25 percent discount).  Marieta and I saw last Friday night’s show, which was two days after Christmas.

The auditorium is aptly named the Zarkana Theater and is magnificent, with plush comfortable seating.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house.  Moreover, the newly-designed theater is easily accessible from parking and exits, a rarity for high-dollar shows on the Las Vegas Strip.  Everywhere else it’s like the primarily objective is to pull patrons inside the casino and then make it as confusing as possible to get out.  Like they want you to gamble, or something.  But I digress.

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Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Blog, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews | 1 comment

Why Britney Spears Matters




 ”While the show’s producers claim Spears is singing along with backing tracks of her own voice, there was little evidence Britney sang a note live.”    

Rolling Stone (Online) on Britney Spears’ debut show at Planet Hollywood on December 27, 2013


We all knew this moment of horror was coming.  Like pending doom.

It was just a matter of time before image finally superseded reality.  Just a matter of time when lipsynched lyrics and dance-infused schlock kicked the art of live performance to the curb.  After all, they’ve already faked the National Anthem at a Presidential Inauguration.  So, fooling a bunch of ass-kissing sycophants with comped tickets at a casino should be super easy.

And wearing the jackboots, gyrating behind all the smoke and mirrors, is none other than pop princess Britney Spears, who according to at least two sources DIDN’T SING A SINGLE NOTE ALL NIGHT LONG in her hit-and-miss-and-miss-and miss debut show at Planet Hollywood, which premiered last Friday night.  That’s right, citing overnight reviews by Rolling Stone (SOURCE LINK) and the Los Angeles Times (SOURCE LINK), every vocal pitch from Spears’ glossy lips was probably prerecorded.  Oh, it sure looked like she was singing live — given she was hitched up to a microphone headset and mouthing the suggestive lyrics like a pro.  Believe what you want.  As they say, fools rush in.

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