All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Legends of Poker:
How Bugsy Siegel
Launched Las Vegas

The secret history of the
greatest gambling city in the world!

A  game as exciting as poker fittingly has its roots in a time when even playing the game was a danger to life and limb. Take the amazing story of how Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano founded the City of Gambling now known to the world as Las Vegas. In the searing heat of the Nevada desert this trio, gruesomely branded “Murder Incorporated” by the media of the day, hit on the idea of a casino resort where both east and west coast gamblers could come and gamble freely without fear of draconian state laws and regular police raids. Murder Incorporated had a day job which revolved around contract killing on a scale that would've impressed John Gotti or the Gambino family. Eventually the heat surrounding Bugsy Seigel in his native New York meant he had to flee westwards and where better to go than to Nevada to give birth to the trio's desert dream. Their first venture was the Flamingo, aptly named after Seigel's long legged girlfriend, Virginia Hill.

On one memorable and well recorded occasion Bugsy was enjoying a game of stud when he spotted a player at another table cheating. A pal of Seigel’s, Anthony Stipone, recalled vividly for newspaper hacks at the time that Bugsy strode over to the guy and punched him in the mouth. This was only for openers. Seigel, in true poker tradition, then raised the ante by shooting the guy stone dead in front of everyone. You might think this would've been a good time to “check” and maybe think about going into hiding for a week or two. Not Bugsy. He raised again and sat the dead guy securely up in his chair and proceeded to deal cards to the other players at the table, including the deceased! Everyone except the dead guy contributed to the new pot. This upset the insane Seigel who shot the dead guy again, slumping him across the table. An inspection of the cards infront of the corpse revealed three of a kind and obviously the real potential for a full house. So, lucky at cards but unlucky in life. Moral of the story? Never cheat. It can cost you more than money.

Limp — Definition: To bet the minimum or simply call. In hold’em, when the little blind simply meets the big blind bet as opposed to raising, the little blind is "limping in."

Fans of the great pro Phil Gordon will be interested to hear his view on limping. "Always raise or fold!" is his mantra. If the hole cards are good enough to play they're good enough to raise. Phil long ago decided the odds of hoping a hand will come good at the flop are contrary to his experience. He believes you should mentally commit to raise or fold and ban limping from your poker thought processes.

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ALL THE ACES poker column:
October 11, 2005: 
Legends of Poker: How Bugsy Siegel Launched Las Vegas