Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wisdom from Benny Binion

In my attempt to shrink my Las Vegas book stack ahead of a transition to the Clark County libraries once I become a resident of Las Vegas, I just finished reading Las Vegas: Behind the Tables! Part 2 by Barney Vinson, one of the few truly great Las Vegas writers, since he worked in casinos there for well over 20 years and lived so many of the massive changes, and knows it so well. I've begun reading his novel, The Vegas Kid, and though Sam Durango is still in Los Angeles, I know that Vinson will get the feel of 1970s Las Vegas right.

Toward the end of Las Vegas: Behind the Tables! Part 2, he interviews Benny Binion, the giant of downtown Las Vegas, with a story that could very well have become a TV show if CBS' new series about legendary Las Vegas sheriff Ralph Lamb hadn't worked out. His Binion's Horseshoe Hotel and Casino, at least in his time, believed in treating the gambler with respect. However much money they walked in with was how much they could play. There was no limit, unlike the Strip casinos. I'm not sure yet if it's the same way today, but I agree with Binion's wisdom, which is actually his modus operandi:

I asked him to describe the Horseshoe Club in his own words, and he took his time answering.

"Well, it's got to be a friendly place. Treat people with courtesy, feed 'em good. Cheap. Good whiskey cheap. And give 'em a good gamble. That's all there is to it, son."

All of it applies to living life as well.

Then a Binion saying that is valid no matter who you are:

It was a wild and wooly time in the nation's existence. Prohibition was starting, a Depression was coming. Like Binion himself was fond of saying, though: "Tough times make tough people."

Amen, Mr. Binion.

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