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Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker

8 Total Score

In Vegas, people say that a person cannot understand the town unless he understands Benny Binion, the mob boss, creator of WSOP, a convicted murderer, and casino owner…

  • Free with Audible
  • The most accurate history of Binion’s life
  • History of gambling in Vegas
  • You will find out how WSOP was created
  • Many points mentioned in the book can not directly be proved
  • Not much knowledge about Benny’s personal life
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Book Review

BLOOD ACES: THE WILD RIDE OF BENNY BINION, BOOK REVIEWBenny Binion is non-other than the creator of World Series of Poker.

When the law of Dallas threw Benny out of the town, he moved to Vegas with his suitcase loaded with cash.

Being as dramatic as a gangster movie, Blood Aces by Doug J. Swanson gives an account of a great American gambling icon, Benny Binion, who not only put Vegas on the map of gambling, but not to forget also created the most famous poker tournament on the planet – World Series Of Poker. 

Blood aces is overall an account of Benny Binion’s career, as he became the king of Dallas gambling. Throughout his journey, Benny Binion always has somebody on his tail. May it be the local police or the FBI, Benny has been a target of the investigation his entire life. 

This book is an entertaining and inspirational story of a man whose dichotomies were a significant product of the violent times in which he grew. Doyle Brunson has once rightly said:

” No one in his right mind messed with Benny Binion.”



Benny Binion has played countless roles in his life. From a cowboy and casino owner to the founder of World Series of Poker, his life was a great success. A blend of native intelligence, philanthropy, and cold-bloodedness, this man became a revered figure in the history of gambling. 

How Can You Get A Poker Audiobook For Free?

The story is about the crucial role that Benny Binion played in shaping modern Las Vegas. Benny has a simple formula of living his life summed up in four major points:

Run a profitable business

Cultivate big boys 

Win the race against your enemies 

Own the cops

Benny came from a poor Texas family. He started providing a basic living to his family at the age of 12. From a cowboy to a small-time gambler, Binion developed an entire gambling empire in Texas.

After being forced out of Texas, he settled in Vegas, thus building his poker legacy. With the creation of WSOP by Benny Binion, poker became a million-dollar industry in the world of gambling. At the same time Horseshoe casino, owned by Benny in Vegas, became well known for its no-limit dice games.

Benny Binion is, of course, the most compelling and enigmatic character one can choose to write a book on. This book introduces the readers to the legendary Benny Binion and tells the readers about Las Vegas which turned a poor boy into a millionaire. 

Benny’s ability to be a mixture of both ruthless and friendly man was undoubtedly appreciable. Benny’s community spirit and approach towards life were unique.

“Trust everyone. But always cut the cards.” – a statement by Benny Binion.


The book is not much about poker strategy but mainly about the legendary soul, Benny Binion, who made poker much recognized in the gambling world. 

For much book data, the author has relied on secondary sources of information. Many points mentioned in the book can not directly be proved, which is the drawback of this text. This book doesn’t have much knowledge about Benny’s personal life other than his association with poker.

I would like to know more about his relationships, friends, likes, and dislikes, along with his poker strategies. Maybe one day a movie about Benny Binion, which is already on the way, will reveal all that information.

Film producer and billionaire Tim Headington bought the rights to a biography about Benny. 

This book can be entertaining for those who are interested in knowing about poker history, gambling, crime, and of course, Las Vegas. Benny took his last breath in Las Vegas at the age of 85, and even today, he is referred to as the king of gambling in Vegas.


I would highly recommend Blood Aces to those interested in knowing about Benny Binion’s life, poker and Las Vegas history. It shows how wild Las Vegas was back then and where WSOP, the biggest poker tournament in the world, originates from.

I love the way Swanson digs into Benny Binion’s life. And although we can’t be sure that everything in the book is 100% true, today this book is the primary source of information about Binion’s life. 

As a short biography, it was overall a good blend of Benny’s few personal and professional aspects of life, but it probably won’t improve your poker skills.

Who is Benny Binion?

Benny Binion (1924-1989) is most known for being the founder of the World Series of Poker and owner of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, which achieved legendary status thanks to its ties to the WSOP. He was a gambling icon, criminal, and convicted murderer. He lived in Denver and later had to move to Vegas because of problems with the law.

The first World Series of Poker (WSOP) took place in Benny’s Horseshoe Casino in 1970. Benny invited the best seven poker players in America. Back then, the tournament was different from what we can see today. Other players chose the winner after a cash game. Amarillo Slim, Preston, Sailor Roberts, Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, Crandell Addington, and Carl Cannon chose Johnny Moss as the winner of first WSOP.

Benny Binion didn’t see himself as a good poker player. He preferred to organize poker games rather than playing them. Mainly for that reason, in 1990, he was included in the Poker Hall of Fame.

How Did Benny Binion Die?

Although many suggest that Benny died under suspicious circumstances, there is no proof to support that. Benny Binion’s cause of death was heart failure on December 5, 1989, in Las Vegas.

How Did Benny Handle Cheating In His Casino

Interview with Benny Binion - 1979

Bennys' Quotes

“I’ll tell you the truth, but I won’t tell you everything.”

“My motto is I don’t trust nobody till they can afford it.”

“They was wantin’ to get rid of me. I was a little too strong. A lot of them died, some of them have destroyed theirselves in the meantime. They’ll know who I’m talking about. Everyone of ’em’s had bad luck. I believe the law of averages, or the Lord or somebody, operates that.”

“I’ve done nothin’ to nobody [who] I didn’t think was going to do me bodily harm. If anybody goes to talking about doing me bodily harm or doing my family bodily harm, I’m very capable of taking care of them in a most artistic way.”

“Tell them FBIs that I am still capable of doing my own damn killing.”

About Doug Swanson

Doug J. Swanson born on May 16, 1953, is the author of five books.

However, only ‘Blood Aces’ are related to poker. He was an investigative reporter at the Dallas Morning News for more than thirty years.

He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Edgar Award. Also, he won the John Creasey Award from the British Crime Writers Association, one of the most significant honors in crime.

Listen  to Doug talking about the book:

Book Quotes

“Off they rode on two mounts, he and his father, out of Pilot Grove and the drudgery of its cotton and sorghum fields, and into a world of renegades, grifters, hustlers, and highwaymen. Ben, at the age of ten, had spent little time in any classroom; after four years he was still in the second grade. This would be a different sort of school, and it gave him his life.”

“There’s more than one kind of education, and maybe I prefer the one I got.” – Binion

Table Of Content

Prologue: The Happy Racketeer 1
Part 1 The Roll of the Dice: 1904-1946 5

1 Snides and Dinks: An Education 71
2 The Bumper Beater 17
3 Pancho and the Klan 27
4 Good Friends and a Dead Rival 39
5 The Thug Club 49
6 Shoot-Outs and Payoffs 61
7 The Mob War Is Joined 71
8 “Lit Out Running” 81

Part 2 Death and Taxes: 1947-1953 91
9 Mobbed-Up Pilgrims 93
10 Texas Vs. Vegas 105
11 “A Kill-Crazy Man” 119
12 “Tears Rolling Down the Man’s Eyes” 135
13 The Benny Brand Goes National 147
14 The Cat’s Last Days 159
15 “They Was on the Take” 175
16 “No Way to Duck” 187
17 The Great Bonanza Stakeout 197
18 “Whacked Around Pretty Good” 213

Part 3 The Ride Back Home: 1954-1989 221
19 The Fireman Gets Religion 223
20 Strippers and Stooges 233
21 Charlie, Elvis, and the Revolution 243
22 Another One Blows Up 255
23 Heroin and the Hit Man 267
24 U-Turn at the Gates of Heaven 277
25 “They Do Things Like That” 289
26 Happy Birthday, Dear Benny 299

Epilogue: Back in the Saddle 307

Book Testimonials

''Doug Swanson is one terrific reporter and writer. In Blood Aces, he delivers not just the facts, ma'am, but an appalling yet wickedly humorous portrait of the Godfather of Glitter Gulch, a warm-hearted family man and cold-blooded killer who pioneered Vegas odds-making and launched the World Series of Poker.''
James McManus - author of Positively Fifth Street and Cowboys Full
''What happens in Vegas...starts in Dallas? Welcome to the world of Benny Binion, the cowboy with a second-grade education who helped create Sin City and laid the groundwork for modern-day spectator poker. Steeped in lore and backed by meticulous research, Doug Swanson's Blood Aces gives readers an intimate and in-depth look at a key era in the history of American capitalism . . . Prepare to be Binionized.''
Denise Kiernan - author of The Girls of Atomic City
“I have always been fascinated by Benny’s story. When I read Doug’s book, I was deeply impressed with the exhaustive research he had done, and thought television was the perfect medium to take advantage of the wealth of material.”

Book Details

  • Number of Pages: 369
  • Game/Theme: Entertaining
  • Live/Online: Live
  • Required Skill Level: Beginner
  • Format Available: Audiobook, E-book, Paperback
  • Free with Kindle Unlimited: No
  • Free with Audible: Yes
  • Publication date: August 14, 2014
  • Languages: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Books


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