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Binion, Benny, 1904-1989


Lester Benjamin "Benny" Binion was born on November 20, 1904 near Dallas-Fort Worth, in Texas. In 1951, Binion purchased the Eldorado Club on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada and renamed it the Horseshoe Club. He established a reputation as a casino operator for providing customers with well-received hospitality and amenities. After his conviction for tax evasion in 1953, Binion sold the majority interest in the Horseshoe to Joe W. Brown, but later regained full ownership. By 1964 the Horseshoe Hotel and Casino changed its name to Binion's Horseshoe. Benny Binion's oldest son, Jack, became the president of the Horseshoe, and his younger son, Lonnie "Ted" Binion, acted as casino manager. Although Benny not possess a gaming license, he remained listed on the payroll for decades as a consultant.

Binion first introduced tournament poker in 1949 when he arranged an extended match between poker players Nicholas Andreas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos and Johnny Moss. In 1970, Binion bought the rights to host the World Series of Poker (WSOP) from a casino owner in Reno, Nevada and began hosting the annual tournament at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. The contest was open to professional poker players and amateurs alike, as long as they could pay the ten thousand dollar buy-in fee. Beginning in 1977, a separate women's event was established within the tournament. The increasing popularity of the WSOP attracted more players and potential winnings increased to an excess of a million dollars.

Binion died on December 25, 1989.


Hopkins, A. D. "Benny Binion." Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 7, 1999. Accessed March 5, 2020.