Old name back in Vegas

The Horseshoe will once again be part of the World Series of Poker. On Wednesday, Caesars Entertainment announced that it is rebranding Bally’s Las Vegas as Horseshoe Las Vegas. Because the World Series of Poker has moved from the Rio to Paris and Bally’s on the Strip, this means that parts of the WSOP will now once again be contested at a casino bearing the Horseshoe name.

Caesars said that the “transformation” will begin in the spring “and will include a renovated exterior, new entertainment and food and beverage options, and a reimagined casino floor and public areas.” The idea is to give the property a “sophisticated” feel and bring back the Horseshoe’s good, old gambling days (the photo attached to this article is an artist’s rendering of the casino floor).

“At Horseshoe, it’s all about the gambler,” said Jason Gregorec, senior vice president and general manager of Bally’s, soon to be Horseshoe. “Since 1951, Horseshoe Casinos have been home to the best odds, highest limits, and biggest jackpots. So, it’s fitting that we bring Horseshoe back to Las Vegas, and right on the Las Vegas Strip.”

The renovations are not expected to disrupt the World Series of Poker or any other day before or after, as they will be done in stages.

Horseshoe and the WSOP go way back

Most of the history of the World Series of Poker is linked to the Horseshoe brand. Jack Binion founded the WSOP at Binion’s Horseshoe (also just called “The Horseshoe”) in downtown Las Vegas in 1970. Harrah’s Entertainment (now called Caesars Entertainment) bought the casino in 2004 and immediately sold the property to MTR Gaming while continuing to operate the casino. A year later, MTR removed the Horseshoe name, as Harrah’s now owned it, renaming the casino Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel.

In 2005, the World Series of Poker was held at Binion’s for the last time until this year. The WSOP had outgrown the casino, so Harrah’s moved it to the Rio, one of its own properties. That final year, almost all of the WSOP was held at the Rio, but as a way to say goodbye, the final three tables of the Main Event were still at Binion’s.

On a personal note, that was also my first year in the poker industry and the first time I attended the World Series of Poker. It was thrilling to be at the Rio among all the excitement, but the real thrill was to get to watch and cover the end of the Main Event at Binion’s, where so much poker history had been made.

That was the Main Event that Joe Hachem won. My main memories from those couple days were how small and crowded it was around the final three tables and how I was not at all prepared for the long nights, waiting for players to be eliminated. I remember stumbling out onto Fremont street in the wee hours of the morning with an ESPN producer to go grab some McDonald’s. I also learned an expensive lesson about playing online poker while exhausted.

And while Binion’s had the history, the Rio was bigger and better (well, not everyone would agree that it was better) and now the WSOP is moving to the Strip and back to the Horseshoe. No, it’s not the same Horseshoe, but it should be nice to bring back the name that has meant so much to poker.

Image credit: Marnell Companies

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