All The Aces Daily Poker Column

The World Series of Poker

How The World Series Of Poker got started...

As the World Series of Poker nears its climax, the eventual winner and soon-to-be-millionaire will survey the mountain of seven million dollar bills in front of him (or her) and say his prayers to one amazing big time gambler called Lester "Benny" Binion.

Binion was an armed bootlegger, seven times murder suspect and a horse trader. He's more famous however for having created the World Series of Poker.

In 1946, Binion fled the law and his home in Texas and headed for Las Vegas with his wife, kids and two million dollars. Assisted by the Mafia, Benny went into the casino business along with Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Seigel and just about anyone else on the run. He had a shotgun in his car and an automatic in his belt. The stakes were high in those days. Your life was on the line.

Binion played host to one of poker's legendary games between Nick "The Greek" Dandolos (rumoured to have won around fifty million dollars during his previous playing career on the East coast) and master card man Johnny Moss. The game lasted over five months and ended with Nick "The Greek" losing a lot of sleep and over two million dollars to Moss.

The next time you're online playing poker at two in the morning, winning $500 and feeling like it's time to go to bed, have a coffee instead and figure out what five months might be like.

The twenty weeks marathon was held in 1949 and drew massive crowds and attention. Even Albert Einstein showed up. By-standers with upwards of ten thousand dollars were sometimes allowed to join the game but Nick and Johnny soon blasted these pretenders away within a matter of hours and continued their grueling duel.

It's not clear whether or not Einstein pitted his brain against either of them but if he did even his maths didn't save him.

Fame and fortune followed this game for Benny Binion who used the rewards to buy the Eldorado, only to christen it Binion's Horseshoe. The story should've had a happy ending there and then but Benny was locked up for five years for tax evasion and it wasn't until 1970 he heard that the World Series of Poker was for sale. Benny snatched it with both hands, declaring it would produce the world's real poker champ every year. It usually manages to do just that and we're just one week away from knowing the name of the new champ.