By Geno Lawrenzi Jr.
Back when Reno, NV. was creating its reputation as the “biggest little city in the world” and a major gambling Mecca, Pappy Smith, owner of Harold’s Club, came up with the slogan, ‘HAROLD’S CLUB OR BUST!’
To make the slogan stick, Pappy and his sons encouraged players to leave signs and banners all over the world, along with the mileage from that particular location to Harold’s Club in downtown Reno. One memorable sign in Alaska had the distance down correctly to the kilometer.
The colorful Smith family no longer own Harold’s Club, of course. One son, Raymond, married a sultry songstress named Kay Starr who had a huge recording in “Wheel Of Fortune,” while another son Harold Smith Sr. ended up destitute and a wandering alcoholic after he squandered his share of the family fortune. Ironically, he had written a book during his heyday called “I Want To Quit Winners.” Sadly, like many gamblers who make it to the top, he could not keep the momentum going and took the long slide to ruin.
Reno and Tunica, MS. are similar in several significant ways. Like Reno, Tunica is centered off the beaten path in the Mississippi Delta. As you drive into Tunica, you are surrounded by farmlands of sorghum and corn. In the distance, cattle and a few horses graze while large neon signs prepare you for the Tunica experience.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
Last weekend, Kristen Bicknell, a twenty six year old cash games grinder from Canada, turned up at the 2013 World Series of Poker Ladies Championship as an unknown player. She proved not only ample survival skills but also the power of discipline, desire, and determination. A self-taught poker player, Bicknell took down first place prize money of $173,922 and the coveted white gold WSOP Ladies Championship bracelet for her effort.
Ladies Championship Leaves Men by the Wayside
The field was 954 starters—all women. Last year an estimated 15 players in the pool were males—mostly pros —apparently enticed to exercise their legal right to rain on the Ladies Day Parade by visions of a higher return on investment (ROI) than in an open event. They may have had their last chance. .
The ladies only field reflected an amusing and controversial legal twist on the buy-in rules for the 2013 WSOP Ladies World Championship. WSOP brass outfoxed male would be party poopers. They stopped such potential impostors in their tracks with a gambit that proved 100% effective in maintaining the Ladies Day as a singularly female “do.”
In consultation with company lawyers, WSOP organizers increased the full buy-in price for the event to $10,000, but offered ladies a 90% promotional discount—thus preserving the traditional $1000 buy in for ladies and drastically changing the ROI for men.
WSOP personnel say the Ladies Championship offers novices a more collegial and protected environment in which to ply their poker skills and make their luck. For the most part, the rank amateurs and veterans alike welcome the party-like atmosphere that is fostered for this event. Participants get to live the dream of vying for a bracelet in a gentler environment than most open events.
Pros, who got their start in the ladies event generally agree it provides an ideal arena to increase familiarity with the rules of engagement and to help build the confidence needed to transition seamlessly into coed competitions. WSOP officials insist the discounted buy-in ticket for the ladies is a worthy promotion for women and not an arbitrary ban of men.
Nevada Law Creates New Opportunity for Women
by Max Shapiro
The World Series of Poker has seen countless changes since its launch in 1970. The very first WSOP was not even a freeze-out event, but a contest with starting and stopping set times, and the “best player” was voted by secret ballot. Poker legend holds that all the players voted for themselves, Benny Binion then took a vote for the second-best player, and Johnny “The Grand Old Man of Poker” Moss was the winner.
Perhaps the best rule of thumb for the WSOP is that the prize pools have kept going up while the average ages of the main event winners have steadily declined. When Moss took down the first event (with only seven players) he was 63, and no one even knows how much he won (or what his final hole cards were). The second year the field slipped to six players, Moss won again at age 64 with pocket 6s and collected $30,000. In 2009 Joe Cada became the youngest champion ever at age 21, and pocketed $8,574,649.
Here is the data for the champions that followed: In 1972 the winner was Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston. There were eight entrants, his winning cards were K J, and he took home $80,000.
Walter “Puggy” Pearson followed in 1973. There were 13 entrants, he won with A♠ 7♠ and won $130,000.
Moss, now 67, won for the third time in 1974 holding 3♥ 3♠. The field kept inching up. There were now 16 players and he got the entire $160,000 prize pool. There were 21 players and a $210,000 pay-out when Brian “Sailor” Roberts won in 1975 holding J♠ J♥.
By Wendeen H. Eolis
Any poker player worth his salt knows better than to say, “When I win, it is skill, and when I lose, it is luck,” but until the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, by and large, the poker community ignored the significant legal conundrums now playing out as high drama in the US Department of Justice’s vigorous prosecution of online poker.
by Paul 'Dr. Pauly' McGuire - @taopauly
By Sean Chaffin
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s mark on poker stands the test of time. His “Dogs Playing Poker” works have been the inspiration for coffee mugs, posters, neckties, movies, video games, websites, and much more. His paintings have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars and their place has been secured in popular American lore.
While Coolidge remains an obscurity in the art world, his works are some of the most well-known pieces of Americana.
An Editorial: By Stanley R. Sludikoff
Six score years ago a vibrant American gaming industry was erased from the scene by a scandal. It was the second time that happened in US history. This one was due to a corrupt Louisiana Lottery that was national in scope. The operators were a gang of crooks. The result was a series of laws by Congress that pretty much killed gaming for nearly 5 decades in this country.
It took a long time for gaming to come back and it has now grown to massive proportions with the majority of states having lotteries and casinos.
by Paul “Dr. Pauly” McGuire
The 1981 World Series of Poker main event was the first poker tournament poker I watched on television. Fifteen years ago I sat in my apartment in New York City, flipping through the slim pickings of late-late night television and eventually stopped on ESPN2. I watched the final table of the 1981 main event, which was hosted by legendary sportscaster Curt Gowdy.
I had never seen a poker tournament before. I sat in awe and wonderment at the action as Stu Ungar held on to win his second main event in a row after he beat out Perry Green, a furrier from Alaska. Ungar faded a field of 75 players—nine tables—to win $375,000.
In the second part of our year-end wrap up, we look at the list of those people and events that were good for poker in 2010. Here is the nice list.
Michael Mizrachi. Mizrachi almost accomplished the impossible, but even falling tantalizingly short, he had a memorable year. He won the first event of this year’s WSOP, the prestigious $50,000 players’ championship, and then went on to make the final table of the main event. Had he won that event he would have been the first player to complete the poker hat trick. Even with his pocket threes blow-up that led to a disappointing fifth place finish, Mizrachi had a tremendous WSOP. And with his three brothers all cashing at the main event, a first for one family, 2001 could easily be called the year of the Mizrachis.
BELLAGIO CHIP THIEF ARRESTED
The down-on-his-luck son of a Las Vegas municipal judge was arrested February 2, alleged to be the motorcycle-riding robber who burst into the Bellagio, brandished a pistol, and fled with approximately $1.5 million in casino chips grabbed from a craps table. Anthony Corleo, 29, has been accused of armed robbery and is also a suspect in at least one other Las Vegas casino heist. Corleo, formerly of Pueblo, Colorado, declared bankruptcy in 2009 after running failed disk-jockey and limo-service businesses, and moved in with his father, George Assad, a controversial Las Vegas judge.