By The Grinder
Poker isn’t a game for nice guys. Sure, there are nice guys in the game, but they don’t come without a shady spot or two. Then, of course, you have the real bad ones. Of course, they have good sides to them. This sounds much like a Poker Yin-Yang, doesn’t it? Given a choice though, don’t we all love the bad guys in poker, and at times want to be like them? I mean the real hardcore gangster material, who have been poster boys of this vice.
Look at Benny Binion, for example. He stole, murdered, moonshined, and pedalled his way to making the rich man’s dream come alive, and yet the world loves Benny. His glory days at the good old Glitter Gulch will always be full of interesting stories you could hear at the poker table. One could also relate him to the likes of Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Jack Binion, and Puggy Pearson. Most of these guys didn’t have a history of crime like Benny did. But who would want to mess with this group? Would you really want to pick a fight with a guy who has at least a hundred poker stories ending with some guy shooting another guy over a silly hand? I’m pretty sure this cigar-chewing, fire-breathing mischief of river rats would put Alex DeLarge or Norman Bates to shame if they were to be messed with. Not to mention, they were fire-breathing aggressive poker dragons at the table as it is. I call them the River Rat Pack. This group totally reminds me of the other kind of rats —The real Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
Though to a lesser extent, Frank was just like Benny. A good man not to be messed with. Aside from being gifted entertainers, Frank and his boys were party freaks—showstoppers—who were the lifeline of Vegas nightlife, when Vegas mattered. This was back in the day, and I’m pretty darned sure you know who they are. If you don’t, I suggest you take time off, and read about them. See their performances and interviews on youtube. You are sure to find a documentary or two about both these clans of men. To me, they are ‘A few good men who were bad to the bone’. Benny and his River Rat Pack; and Frank and his Rat Pack. Just like two packs of playing cards run a cash table all night, these packs ran the golden days of Las Vegas.