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Updated: May 3, 2024

Lester Ben Binion and The Cowboy Action

Benny Binion was born and brought up in Texas in Grayson County, the northern side of Dallas.

While traveling with his father, he learned to gamble as a young boy. As he traveled with his father, the young man learned to gamble.

After his criminal days were bygones, Binion took partnership in the Las Vegas Club casino. A year later when the casino was relocated, Binion faced licensing issues. He decides to quit the partnership to avoid the chaos.

Benny purchased a real estate that was earlier running under the name ‘The Las Vegas Club’. He reopened the club in the name of ‘Westerner Gambling House and Saloon’.

Benny Binion and the Birth of WSOP

Back in January 1949, Binion hosted a head-to-head poker tournament. Johnny Moss and Nick Dandalos a.k.a. “Nick the Greek” played heads-up. The tournament went on for five months.

After many years of hosting heads-up matches for high-stakes players, in 1970 an idea struck him. Binion designed a tournament and for that, he invited six high-rollers he knew to compete in the tournament. They would play for cash on the table, after which the winner was voted for. In 1971, a freeze-out format was introduced with a $10,000 buy-in. Please mark, that this is how the World Series of Poker (WSOP) was born.

He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame posthumously in 1990.

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