Category: The Strip

On This Date: June 30, 1996, The Sands Hotel & Casino Closed

June 30, 2016
Sands Hotel & Casino

Sands Hotel & Casino A Place in the Sun

On this date the Sands Hotel & Casino Closed, June 30, 1996. The Historic hotel was the seventh hotel to open on the famous Las Vegas Strip on December 15, 1952. The Sands was was owned by Howard Hughes in the mid 1960’s.


Sands Hotel & Casino witht the Famous Rat Pack names on the Marquee

The original movie, Ocean’s 11 was filmed at the Sands and during this time movie stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford performed at the Copa Room. This is considered the birthplace of the “Rat Pack” and it was called the “Summit at the Sands”.  Another Famous lounge act was that of Louis Prima who performed at the Sands in the ’60s and early ’70s. The hotel was closed on June 30, 1996 and later imploded on November 26, 1996. The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino now resides at the Sands former location.

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On this Date: June 28 2006 The Klondike Casino on the Las Vegas Strip Closed

June 28, 2016
Klondike Inn

Klondike Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip

On this Day, June 28 2006 the Klondike Casino located at the very southern end of the Las Vegas Strip Closed its doors. The Klondike Hotel closed two days later.

Kona Kai Motel

The Klondike opened in 1962 as the Tiki-themed Kona Kai Motel, and included a restaurant and cocktail lounge. Ralph Engelstad purchased the motel in 1967.  In 1973, four motel buildings from Engelstad’s other property, the Flamingo Capri motel (later re-opened as the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino), were relocated and converted into a one-story motel building for the Kona Kai.

Klondike Inn (1975-1982)

In 1975, John Woodrum split from his business partner, Bill Boyd. Woodrum and another partner, Katsumi Kazama, purchased the motel that year for $1.2 million and renamed it as the Klondike Inn. Woodrum became the sole owner in May 1976.In 1976, Woodrum provided a power line to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, which had not been lit for several years. The county later provided power to the sign.

Klondike Hotel and Casino (1982-2006)

In 1982, Woodrum added a casino and renamed the motel as the Klondike Hotel and Casino.  In September 2004, Leroy’s Horse & Sports Place began operating a sports book at the casino.  In May 2005, Royal Palm Las Vegas LLC bought 5.25 acres of land adjacent to the Klondike for $42 million.

The Klondike closed its casino on June 28, 2006, and the hotel two days later.

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On this Date: June 28, 1997 Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield Ear Off

Boxer Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield Boxing

“The Bite” Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield Fight in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997

On this Date: June 28, 1997, at the Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson fight, Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield ear.  The Fight was billed at the ‘The Sound and the Fury” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the WBA Heavyweight Championship referee by Lane Mils. But, the fight will go down in history as the “Bite Fight”.

The fight began with Holyfield dominating Tyson. Holyfield won the first three rounds. As the third round was about to begin, Tyson came out of his corner without his mouthpiece.  With forty seconds remaining in the round Holyfield got Tyson in a clinch, and Tyson rolled his head above Holyfield’s shoulder and bit Holyfield on his right ear, a one-inch piece of cartilage from the top of the ear, and spitting out the piece of ear on the ring floor.

The fight was stopped for a few minutes as the referee debated the status of the fight. The fight was resumed. During another clinch, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear. Holyfield threw his hands around to get out of the clinch and jumped back. Tyson’s second bite just scarred Holyfield’s ear. Lane did not stop the fight this time, so the two men continued fighting until time expired. The men walked back to their respective corners when the second bite was discovered and the fight was then stopped.

A scuffle broke out in the ring between the Tyson corner , security surrounded Holyfield in his corner and Tyson took swings at the people in his way, but was taken back to his corner by security.

Twenty-five minutes after the brawl ended, announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the decision: “Ladies and gentlemen, this bout has been stopped at the end of round number three, the referee in charge, Mills Lane, disqualifies Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield in both ears, the winner by way of disqualification and still the WBA Champion of the world, Evander ‘The Real Deal’ Holyfield!” Holyfield won the WBA’s boxing championship, prize, money and trophy because of Tyson’s disqualification.

Tyson was sentenced with a permanent suspension from boxing and his license cancelled indefinitely. Tyson was also fined $3,000,000 and had to serve a period of community service. After a year and an appeal in court, Tyson’s license was reinstated.

On October 16, 2009 on The Oprah Winfrey Show Tyson apologized to Holyfield. Holyfield accepted his apology and forgave Tyson. When Tyson and Holyfield retired from boxing they befriended each other and are now close friends today.

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Las Vegas Card Counters

June 23, 2016

Las Vegas Card Counters

Last year you may have heard of Hollywood megastar Ben Affleck getting in trouble for his card counting antics. Although the card counting in itself isn’t illegal, casinos do reserve the right to refuse card counters entry to the gaming floor, and can eject players whom they suspect them of card counting. As the professional player Anthony Curtis says: “the science [of card counting] is knowing how to do it; the art is being able to get away with it.”
Ben Affleck of course isn’t the first, nor will he be the last person to be ejected from a Las Vegas casino. This being the case we thought we would provide you with a list other gamblers that have found themselves in trouble for their card counting ways, or got away with remarkable winnings.

Keith Taft

Keith Taft isn’t one of the best known members of the card counting club, but he is one of the more interesting ones. Taft is one of the members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, because of his innovative strategies for card counting that involved a whole series a different wearable computer devices over the years.

Taft unusually came from a very religious background, he first got hooked on the game of blackjack when on a family holiday to Reno. He received a token to gamble at Harrah’s Casino, he warily went into the casino, but as luck would have it the 3 hands he played were all winning ones! Taft was hooked, and from there on in he would study card counting, and even practise the game with his family. The breakthrough for him happened when he came to the realisation of why he should be doing all the card counting in his head when a computer could do the calculations for him.

Keith Taft

Keith Taft

This lead to the invention of George, a manually wired clunky 15 pound machine strapped to his chest, which attached for 4 switches hidden in his shoes which he controlled with his toes. The information of the dealt cards was then conveyed from the computer to his glasses where LED lights had been concealed. Who needs Google Glass when you have George right? Technically, this is one of the earliest pioneering forms of wearable tech, amazing when you consider that at this time in the early 70’s people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were just dropping out of college, and hadn’t even begun to work on the first prototype of the Apple 1.

Eventually Taft and his crew got busted when their invention called Belly Telly. This involved hiding a camera in a belt buckle and filming the action, whilst a van with a huge satellite picked up the video feed, was discovered by a security guard. Although the law surrounding using computer devices was unclear at the time, the judge ruled that they be sentenced to 6 months in prison. Keith didn’t do time though. This incident also lead to the passing of legislation that prohibited the use of technology to aid gameplay.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey’s game was a little bit different from the standard form of card counting. Phil Ivey who is one of the world’s greatest poker players won £7.7 million ($11,490,000) playing a form of Baccarat at Crockfords Casino in Mayfair in London called Punto Banco. This is amazing when you consider that the game of Punto Banco is purely luck and requires no skill whatsoever. However, what the unsuspecting casino staff didn’t know that night is that Phil Ivey’s partner Cheung Yin Sun knew a skill called edge-sorting. Edge-sorting is a skill whereby the player notices imperfections on the back of cards, and memorises them to know what value the card has before it is turned over. This comes in very handy in the game of Punto Banco where a player has to guess which hand, the dealers or the players has a value that adds up closest to 9.

Unfortunately for Phil he would never see his winnings. Crockfords decided that what he was cheating, and therefore went on to withhold his winnings, and only returned to Phil his original £1 million stake. This decision was upheld by a Judge at the High Court and as such Phil won’t ever see his winnings.

Don Johnson

Although this man is technically not a card counter he is worth mentioning as his ‘lucky’ streak meant he walked away with $4 million from Caesars, $5 million from the Borgata, and $6 million from the Tropicana in Atlantic City. In one hand he won a staggering $800,000. The latter casino ended up having the 2nd lowest profits in April 2011 of any of the Atlantic City casinos. As a result the president and CEO of the Tropicana Mark Giannantonio got the boot a few weeks later. So how did he do it?

Well although he may not have been counting cards, in Tony Rodio’s words (the man who succeeded Giannantonio as CEO) “He plays perfect cards.” Don Johnson is very good at maths, and his method is based on calculating the odds against the house. What Johnson knows is that the best way to do well, is by running a smaller number of hands and paying attention to variation. As Johnson puts it the way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of variation. A session of, say, 600 hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning and losing streaks, than the standard casino charts. That insight becomes important when the betting terms and special ground rules for the game are set—and Don Johnson’s skill at establishing these terms is what sets him apart from your average casino visitor.

He knew how to play the casinos and get what he wanted from them to give just enough of an advantage over the house.

Although these people all managed to do something exceptional in their own way, they are the exception rather than the rule, card counting or trying to get an advantage over a casino in any form can get you into a lot of trouble, so before you start trying to mimic any of these methods, it’s best to weigh up the risks against the rewards. However, nothing can beat the thrill of beating the house, whatever the risk.

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On this Date: May 31, 2000, the Golden Nugget and all of Steve Wynn’s other Strip properties where sold to Kirk Kerkorian

May 31, 2016
Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas

On May 31, 2000, the Golden Nugget (and all of Steve Wynn’s other properties) was sold to Kirk Kerkorian; the consolidated corporation was known as MGM Mirage and has been the largest casino corporation in Las Vegas since that date.

The Mirage

The Mirage

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

Photos By:,
Clément Bardot (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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On This Date: May 23, 1955 The Dunes Hotel Opened

May 23, 2016

The Dunes Hotel and Casino

The Dunes was the tenth resort built on the Las Vegas Strip and opened on May 23, 1955. The resort included a 18-hole Championship golf course which ran from Tropicana Ave .to Flamingo Road, it was called the Dunes Miracle Mile. In its early years, the Dunes was known for the 35 ft tall fiberglass sultan that stood above its main entrance. Many top performers, such as Dean Martin, Jayne Mansfield, Liberace, George Burns, Pat Cooper, Judy Garland, Violetta Villas, Phyllis Diller and Frank Sinatra performed at the hotel.

The Dunes Hotel closed it doors on January 26, 1993. It sat where the now famous Bellagio resides on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo Road.

Photo By: © 1983 Larry D. Moore (CC-BY-SA)

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