Kelly Speaks Poker


John Kelly grew up in South Suburban Chicago with an eye on gambling, even as a youngster.

Consequently, he has never developed a loyalty towards the Cubs or White Sox.

“I guess it was the gambling thing,” he said

“I learned early that I could be one of them.”

Kelly, The Voice of Las Vegas Sports Gambling Now that Larry Grossman has retired, the last breaths of old Las Vegas and a new one to look at.

Over the past 16 years, coinciding with his 1990 Sin City Arrival, Kelly has seen the city grow, step-by-step, into a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis and international resort destination.

“Some of the deals, bargains and value we’ve seen in the past go to the future,” Kelly said.

“But it’s all relative.

“A hotel room in mid-town New York, Chicago or Los Angeles goes for about $ 400 a night, so a $ 180 room on the Strip doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

“Everything costs more.

“Another thing is you don’t have to pay to park at hotels here.

“Anywhere else, it would cost $ 18, $ 20 a night.”

On the flip side, Kelly laments the fact that Las Vegas didn’t take a more progressive and aggressive approach when exploring Internet gambling.

“I don’t have any great insights in this area, but I am disappointed with all the rules and regulations we have (such limitations) that many of our bettors were forced to go elsewhere,” the broadcaster said.

“I’m sorry there has been more creativity.

“Football futures prices are just one example.

“What you have to offer and you know you can find a better price somewhere in the world.

“Another thing that hurt sports betting is all the consolidation because you have fewer outs and fewer big jobs.”

The Northwestern University journalism school graduate will soon have no choice but to watch the end of another era in which he was very involved.

Kelly, who has four main gigs, will see two of them become dusty when the wind blows in the fabled Stardust Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard South later this year and eventually replaced by something called the Echelon Place, a 21st Century structure that shame to put on a long revered resort.

Kelly has handled the daily Stardust Line since the morning show and co-hosted Seat Williams, a wildly popular Stardust Invitational football contest for its 11 seasons.

Early rumors were ‘Dust would bid its patrons adieu with a 12th and final Invitational, but Kelly has doubts.

Professing no insider knowledge, Kelly said he learned the resort is beyond accepting hotel reservations Nov. 1:

“It just makes sense for me to have a hotel, you want to fill it with people and you’re not accepting reservations through football season …”

Kelly said the Stardust Invitational was relieved of its early years by leading handicappers to lend their endorsement to participating in the affair.

“The big deal is back then. The names on the marquee,” Kelly recalled.

As years passed, though, the handicappers clamored to get invited and considered it a feather in their cap.

“I think the big thing with the Invitational was that if you were a member of the local sports gambling community, it became the place to be on Friday nights,” Kelly continued.

“It was the hangout.

“People took it seriously, but we also had a lot of fun.”

Kelly hosts a weekend horse racing program for Sam’s Town and co-hosts a daily afternoon sports gambling show with Leroy’s former bookmaker Jimmy Vacarro – Grossman’s old time slot.

Leroy’s, which is headed by longtime Las Vegas bookmaker Vic Salerno, operates more than 60 Silver State sports books.

When it hit the big leagues it was Inked Vacarro, who once ran The Mirage Bet Shop, to serve as marketing director.

One of Jimmy’s first moves was to establish Leroy’s own high stakes football contest and try to lure Kelly to the host of the radio show.

The Stardust originally put its foot down, but has since softened its stance.

“I guess it’s because the countdown has begun,” Kelly said only half-kiddingly.

“Jimmy’s easy to work with and with him leading the way is a lot of things to see.

“He was very creative and progressive and he had a great influence on the industry in the’ 90s.

“The beauty of Leroy’s is that you have a lot of memos and meetings.

“There’s planning, but not a lot of red tape so they can operate more freely.”

“So many books think of the downside first… the possible, possible litigation .. and things never get off the ground.

“At Leroy’s, if Jimmy has an idea he just sees Vic.”

Kelly describes himself as a seasonal player.

“I have a hard time thinking out of season,” Kelly said.

“I’m very weak on the NFL right now, but ask me about baseball or basketball.”

He forsees a Mets-Red Sox World Series, mainly because of their closing circumstances.

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