Relativity Media has purchased the screen rights to Doug Swanson’s book “Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion,” the biography of the legendary creator of the World Series of Poker.
“Blood Aces,” published in August 2014, tells the story of Binion (pictured), from his childhood of poverty to his life as a bootlegger and numbers-runner to his shift to Las Vegas where he became a respected casino mogul. Peter Alson, author of “Take Me to the River – A Wayward and Perilous Journey to the World Series of Poker,” wrote a lengthy review of “Blood Aces” for the Wall Street Journal, calling it a “slam-bang thrill ride of a biography.”
He added, “Mr. Swanson, an ace investigative reporter who writes with a pulp-fiction swagger just right for his story’s cutthroat anti-hero, is above all a historian who fixes Benny Binion in the context of his times. He does a good job conveying a sense of the social fabric of Dallas in the early part of the 20th century (a feat he also manages later with Las Vegas).”
Kirkus Reviews, arguably the preeminent book review publication in the US, also liked “Blood Aces,” calling it, “An entertaining and provocative portrait of a man whose dichotomies were largely a product of the violent times in which he thrived.”
Scott Porch interviewed Swanson for Kirkus, introducing the piece by saying that “Blood Aces” “is rollicking and darkly hilarious in a Coen Brothers, dang-it-what-happened-to-the-dynamite kind of way. Binion is a combination of Bugsy Siegel, Boss Hog, and Donald Trump, and Swanson tells the story with a curious eye for what drove Binion to such violence and ambition.”
In 1969, Binion was part of a group of poker players invited by Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey to Reno to participate in the Texas Gamblers Reunion. It was a great time, but was not resurrected the following year. It gave Binion an idea, though, so he invited players to his casino in Las Vegas in 1970 to compete in a series of cash games. At the end of the competition, the players voted Johnny Moss the champion of the first World Series of Poker.
The following year, Binion changed the format of the WSOP to a $5,000 freezeout, a tournament that Moss won once again. The WSOP has been held every year since.