Los Angeles Times

At 50, the World Series of Poker has come a long way

LAS VEGAS - Poker players were once viewed as miscreants betting in backrooms filled with booze, guns and battlefield levels of cigar smoke hanging in the air.

Benny Binion, a charismatic casino owner who shot and killed two men in separate incidents - successfully arguing both times that it was self-defense - and was convicted for tax evasion, seemed cut from that cloth when he conceived the World Series of Poker in 1969. The tournament began in Reno as a small gathering of guys with nicknames such as Slim, Puggy, Sailor and Texas Dolly.

In 1970, he relocated the game to Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas - moving other games to make room for the poker tables. The

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