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Poker News | World Poker News

Las Vegas Legend Bob Stupak Dies of Leukemia at 67

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He was well-known in the world of poker but even more so in the world of Las Vegas politics, business, and history. The story of Bob Stupak’s life was an interesting one, and no matter the thoughts about his motives, personal dealings, or demons, the man played an integral role in the shaping of Las Vegas. He died on September 25, 2009, at the age of 67.

Stupak moved to Las Vegas as a young man with entrepreneurial ambitions but split time in his early adult life between Australia and Nevada. But in Las Vegas was where he made his mark by first opening Bob Stupak’s World Famous Historic Gambling Museum in 1974, though it was only open for a few months before fire destroyed the building.

Next on his list of accomplishments was the opening of a casino called Vegas World in 1979 and didn’t shut its doors until the mid 1990’s when his focus was on opening the Stratosphere (in the same location as Vegas World) at the far north end of the Las Vegas Strip. In the hopes of eventually lengthening the Strip from where it stood to the downtown area, a great deal of money was invested in the Stratosphere, though it ended up as a huge financial loss and ultimately sold to Carl Icahn a year later. He had hopes of opening other Vegas casinos, though those ideas never came to fruition.

The Stratosphere released a statement upon his death that read, in part: “Bob Stupak was a true visionary and he will be sorely missed. He was instrumental in developing the Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower - an icon in Las Vegas, as Mr. Stupak was himself. He will be remembered for his many community initiatives and his many innovative projects within the gaming industry.”

Amidst the years of business endeavors, Stupak’s penchant for gambling made news for its eccentricities. For example, in 1989, he won a million dollar bet on the Super Bowl in 1989. But it was the gruesome motorcycle accident for which he became known due to the toll it took on Stupak. The 1995 accident not only broke every bone in his face but put him into a coma for five weeks. Though he recovered, the physical pain of his face reconstruction and healing had to be managed through medications for the rest of his years.

The man also had ideas of going into politics. as he ran for Las Vegas City Council in 1991, then for the position of Mayor, and finally for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 1996. All bids for office failed, though he never seemed to cease those aspirations.

Friends with Senator Harry Reid for 35 years, Stupak’s passing drew a statement from the senior senator from Nevada: “Las Vegas has seen many visionary people come and go throughout the years, but few personified the town like Bob did. He was a genuine Las Vegas character.”

Stupak was also known for his poker skills, which became well known upon his placement at the final table of the 1984 World Series of Poker Deuce-to-Seven Draw final table. He came back in 1989 to win a Deuce-to-Seven bracelet at the WSOP and had final tables and significant finishes to his credit through the 1980’s and 1990’s in everything from hold’em to Omaha. He also had a number of cashes on the World Poker Tour, though his only final table came at the 2003 L.A. Poker Classic. All in all, he had over $865,000 in tournament winnings on his official record, though it was said that his live cash game winnings surpassed that number greatly.

His participation in the poker world even extended to ventures like the GSN television show High Stakes Poker, which he not only appeared on but participated in the making of. While many rumors floated about the poker community about his personal demons and habits, as he would often disappear from a live tournament or cash game for hours with no explanation, he continued to play until close to the time of his death.

Ultimately, Stupak fought a battle with leukemia that he couldn’t win. His death occurred at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas on September 25. Mr. Las Vegas, as he was dubbed in 1996 by then-mayor Jan Jones, is survived by two sisters, two daughters, and two ex-wives.

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