The astonishing story of Benny Binion—a rip-roaring saga of murder, money, and the making of Las Vegas
Benny Binion was many things: a cowboy, a pioneering casino owner, a gangster, a killer, and founder of the hugely successful World Series of Poker.
Blood Aces tells the story of Binion’s crucial role in shaping modern Las Vegas. From a Texas backwater, Binion rose to prominence on a combination of vision, determination, and brutal expediency. His formula was simple: run a good business, cultivate the big boys, kill your enemies, and own the cops.
Through a mix of cold-bloodedness, native intelligence, folksiness, and philanthropy, Binion became one of the most revered figures in the history of gambling, and his showmanship, shrewdness, and violence would come to dominate the Vegas scene.
Veteran journalist Doug J. Swanson uses once-secret government documents and dogged reporting to show how Binion destroyed his rivals and outsmarted his adversaries—including J. Edgar Hoover.
As fast paced as any thriller, Blood Aces tells a story that is unmatched in the annals of American criminal justice, a vital yet untold piece of this country’s history.
Swanson, investigative projects editor at The Dallas Morning News, shares the old-school crime history of Lester "Benny" Binion, a Texas backwater survivor who rose ruthlessly through the world of vice to serve as a founding father of the modern Las Vegas and create the highly profitable World Series of Poker. Nicknamed "The Cowboy" as a young man, Binion hustled his way through the bootlegging business to the illegal numbers or "policy" in Dallas, gathering influential friends on both sides of the law, marrying a pretty girl, and killing two men after the Chicago mob targeted him. He thrived on the Vegas Strip, acquiring a casino, rubbing shoulders with legendary gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel, and perfecting the sport of high-stakes poker despite legal challenges and government probes. Swanson skillfully brings Binion to life and continually intrigues with the exhilarating account of the history of poker and the decadent metropolis that reminds us that ambition, power, and violence often go hand-in-hand. This is the madcap, bloody, improbable life of an outlaw who left his mark on Las Vegas, poker, and gambling from coast to coast.