🐐🐐GOAT🐐🐐Steve Cutler🐐🐐Las Vegas Story on Gaming History

Steve Cutler is not only the GOAT in terms of casino gaming collectibles, but also a personal friend of Sarah and mine.

You would not believe the gaming items and history he has been able to collect and has done the biggest deals in the whole hobby.

It is my pleasure to share his stories here on Pokerchipper as they are just incredible.

First let's meet Steve "the GOAT" Cutler

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THE CHIP STORY YOU NEVER HEARD…….UNTIL NOW

IN 1994 my newly formed marketing consulting business was just getting off the ground, Hilton Gaming and Aztar Gaming had just enlisted my services. Those two clients would prove to be all I needed, however I did do some pro bono work for friends. This story is about two of those friends. Marc Curtis was the general manager of the Pioneer Club at the time and he needed some help. Fremont Street was closed and under construction, for the soon to be completed Fremont Street Experience and foot traffic was non existent. The Pioneer Club did not have hotel rooms so it was very difficult to compete with the larger downtown hotels that offered many amenities. I suggested that he put some type of attraction in the casino to draw what little foot traffic there was. The Pioneer Club was very small and didn’t have much space. After reviewing his books I saw that the two pool tables generated about $200 a month and brought in a bad crowd. I also noticed that the high limit slot area got little to no play. The solution was simple, get rid of the two pool tables and move the slots into that area. That freed up about 500 sq. ft. in the center of the casino. He allowed me to use this space for a free attraction, it would be a display of Nevada Gaming Artifacts. This attraction was comprised of items from my personal collection and we called it the Nevada Gold Museum. Another good friend, Paul Endy, owner of Paulson Gaming, was experimenting with a new product. His business was manufacturing gaming equipment, including chips. That product was the full graphic casino chip. I loved this new product and worked with him in development. I told him I was helping a friend out and I put together a small attraction for him and wanted to create some chips for him. I worked with their graphic artist Will Hart. I would give him the concept and he would make it come to life. I created the first set of limited edition chips, a 12 piece set highlighting different Nevada historic events. All of these chips ($5.00 denomination) were sequentially serial numbered, this was also a first. In addition I also was responsible for a six piece set commemorating their 50th Anniversary. This set was comprised of $.25-$100 denomination and also was sequentially serial numbered, another first. Marc thought I was crazy. He said “Who would buy these chips and not cash them in”. My answer was simple “Chip collectors”. I scheduled the release of these chips to coincide with the CC&GTCC National Convention. We limited the quantity to two sets per person. The line at the cage went through the casino and onto Fremont Street. We made the six o’clock news and all the matching serial numbered sets sold out in about one hour. Over the next ten years I was responsible for bringing hundreds of orders to my friend Paul and insured the future of the full graphic chip as this became the style of choice. Sadly The Pioneer Club could not compete and was purchased by the ABC Store and flourishes as a souvenir store today.
 
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THE SINATRA STORY YOU NEVER HEARD…….UNTIL NOW

In 1951 Frank Sinatra was getting his singing career back on track, as he had just won an academy award for his part in the blockbuster movie, From Here to Eternity. The Desert Inn located in Las Vegas, Nevada was quick to sign this reborn singing sensation and booked him as the headliner in their showroom. In 1952 The Sands opens up next door and one of the principle owners/entertainment director states “the Sands will have the best stable of entertainers in Las Vegas”. His name was Jack Entratter and he liked Frank Sinatra. Determined to have him work at the Sands he eventually bought out his contract from the Desert Inn and signed him to a long term contract at the Sands. There was one catch, the showroom at the Sands was larger than the Desert Inn and he wasn’t sure Sinatra could sell the room out. His solution was to bring the Ziegfeld Follies from New York and make Sinatra the featured singer. Every performance was a sellout and soon thereafter Sinatra headlined his own show. That was the beginning of his storied long term relationship with the Sands that lasted well into the 60’s. Featured here is the program from his first performance at the Desert Inn. This was also the first time he ever performed in Las Vegas. The other program that Is featured is from his first performance at the Sands where he starred in the Ziegfeld Follies. Both of these Las Vegas artifacts are considered to be extremely rare.
 
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MY ASHTRAY STORY

Twenty years ago I was very involved with building up the Casino Legends Hall of Fame collection. I was always in search for very rare or interesting artifacts to display in the Hall of Fame. I can honestly say “I was obsessed”. If you had something I wanted, I literally couldn’t sleep at night as my only thought was “How can I acquire it?”. I am sure many serious collectors can relate to this. This story is about one of those items. A very close friend and former business partner had just made an incredible find and he was sharing it with me. He was a very well known person in the casino collectable world at the time and is now one of the stars on the very successful T.V. show, Storage Wars, his name is Rene Nezhoda. The find was an ashtray from the Shamrock Hotel, a small hotel and casino located in downtown Las Vegas (1951-1953). Other than a handful of chips not much has shown up from this early Las Vegas casino, needless to say I was excited at the possibility of purchasing this ultra rare ashtray. I don’t believe I ever paid more than $100 for an ashtray up to this point. That being said I figured this very rare ashtray would fall into that price range. The ashtray had everything going for it “Bar and Casino” and a four digit telephone number. I had to have this early Vegas rarity. After attempting to not show my excitement I finally asked Rene “How much will you take for it”. Rene was smart and he knew what he had. He told me he already had an offer from a very well known collector but would sell it to me for the same price, after all I was a mentor to him. I knew the number was going to be high because I knew the collector he was referring to and he always paid top dollar. He finally gave me the price after making me sit down. The price was $1500, thank God I was seated as I had never spent that much on an ashtray. I thought about it for a nano second and paid him. It has been over twenty years and I have yet to see this ashtray in any collection. It is still the most I have ever paid for an ashtray and is one of my prized possessions. I have a few “One known to exist” ashtrays from early Las Vegas and this may be my favorite. Whenever I speak to Rene he always reminds me of the great deal he gave me on this super rare ashtray.
 
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THE FINAL PIECE

The Nevada Gold Museum always prided itself on displaying complete collections. This story is about the completion of one of those collections. Casino liquor decanters were always one of my favorite casino Collectables, they displayed well and many of them highlighted special events such as The Mint 400, golf tournaments, conventions, etc. etc. In total there were over 100 different decanters made, spanning a thirty year period, and of course my goal was to have one of each. While assembling this collection I stumbled into a few prototypes and discovered some varieties as well. I was able to find all of the decanters with the exception of one. There always seem to be one super rare piece in all collections. When it came to Nevada liquor gaming decanters it was the five piece Primadonna set that proved to be the key to this collection. This was also the most beautiful one ever made, in my opinion of course. It consisted of five separate pieces that created the famous Primadonna marque when placed next to each other. Inside each decanter was a showgirl in a different pose. These showgirl figures were very detailed and very fragile so broken arms, legs or heads was not uncommon. Also finding all five pieces was a challenge as these apparently were sold individually. Being a condition freak only added to my frustration in completing this collection as all of the other decanters were in mint condition so an off grade set would not be acceptable. After many years of searching I finally found a complete set, not mint but complete. At this point I had never paid more than $50 for a decanter, when the seller told me the price was $800 I nearly fell over, and needless to say, I passed on the deal. In 1997 Charlie Rodgers and I promoted a gaming collectable show in Laughlin, Nv. in association with the newly opened Nevada Gold Museum located within the Flamingo Hilton. I met a gentleman, George Richter, at this show and he noticed the Primadonna set was missing. He claimed to be the biggest decanter dealer in the country, whoever knew there was such a thing. He told me he had the elusive set and it would blend well with the rest of the collection. It was in mint condition and still sealed, he claimed this was probably the only one like it. Unfortunately he said it wasn’t for sale as it was in his personal collection. After another year of searching and trying to convince George to part with his prized decanter set I finally asked him “Name your price, I’m buying your set today”. He insisted it wasn’t for sale but he would consider an offer of over $1200. I purchased that set for $1201 that day and have never regretted it. In over fifty years of collecting I have never seen another set in new unused condition. And now the display was complete.
 
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Steve Cutler is not only the GOAT in terms of casino gaming collectibles, but also a personal friend of Sarah and mine.

You would not believe the gaming items and history he has been able to collect and has done the biggest deals in the whole hobby.

It is my pleasure to share his stories here on Pokerchipper as they are just incredible.

First let's meet Steve "the GOAT" Cutler

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Great news...my collector eye immediately goes to the bankers boxes in the background of the first pic...I know what you are showing me, but what is inside those boxes???
 
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Lou Rawls and Me

Most of you knew the Casino Legends Hall of Fame as a museum type attraction in fact it was an institution that recognized Las Vegas Legends in several different categories. The attraction was ticketed 365 days a year and once a year we had a major ceremony where legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame. These ceremonies were held in The Tiffany Theatre (Home of the Folies Bergere), these were invited guests only events and were attended by the the who’s who of Las Vegas. The Governor and Jerry Lewis were regulars in the audience. The theatre sat around 1100 and it was always packed with standing room only. These ceremonies have gone smoothly since opening in 1998 thanks to Ginny Murphy, the showroom manager. I had done much in my career but producing award shows was not on the list. The next ceremony was scheduled for October 11, 2002 and a crisis was unfolding. Jack Jones, Frankie Randall, Nelson Sardelli, Mafalda, Mamie Van Doren and Norm Crosby had all confirmed they would appear. Invitations were printed and mailed, press releases had already gone out, interviews were scheduled. Then it happened, I received the call from Jack Jones personally and he apologized for not being able to make it. He promised he would be in the next ceremony if we would still have him. I told him no problem, I would work it out. With only three days until showtime and no time to print additional ephemera, I started to panic. I called my dear friend Jackie Baskow, Las Vegas talent agent, and told her of my predicament. Jackie asked me if I had some type of master list of pre-approved legends, I did and sent it to her immediately. Within ten minutes she responded and asked me if Lou Rawls would be acceptable. Turned out he was doing a special event in town and was available for the induction ceremony. Fortunately he had heard of the Casino Legends Hall of Fame and wanted in. I spoke with him personally and explained that there was no time to print new invitations. I did tell him that he would be the highlight of this ceremony and promised him that I would make it up to him someday. He graciously accepted and I will never forget this incredibly talented and humble individual for saving the (My) day. Clint Holmes was my host/emcee and the audience was packed with past and future inductees. When Lou Rawls was called up to receive his induction he spotted The Checkmates in the audience and summoned them to the stage. Las Vegas magic was about to happen as the four of them began to sing together in an unscripted format creating a Hall of Fame moment I will never forget. Lou Rawls was a class act and so deserving of the honor he was about to receive. Jack Jones was inducted in 2004 and he was amazing as well. Sadly, Lou Rawls passed away in 2006. Jackie Baskow remains part of my inner circle to this day. Frankie Randall, Mafalda and Jack Carter have all passed away since being inducted that day. I personally received many awards that day and was known as a producer from that day on.

Thanks again Lou!
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Lou Rawls and Me

Most of you knew the Casino Legends Hall of Fame as a museum type attraction in fact it was an institution that recognized Las Vegas Legends in several different categories. The attraction was ticketed 365 days a year and once a year we had a major ceremony where legends were inducted into the Hall of Fame. These ceremonies were held in The Tiffany Theatre (Home of the Folies Bergere), these were invited guests only events and were attended by the the who’s who of Las Vegas. The Governor and Jerry Lewis were regulars in the audience. The theatre sat around 1100 and it was always packed with standing room only. These ceremonies have gone smoothly since opening in 1998 thanks to Ginny Murphy, the showroom manager. I had done much in my career but producing award shows was not on the list. The next ceremony was scheduled for October 11, 2002 and a crisis was unfolding. Jack Jones, Frankie Randall, Nelson Sardelli, Mafalda, Mamie Van Doren and Norm Crosby had all confirmed they would appear. Invitations were printed and mailed, press releases had already gone out, interviews were scheduled. Then it happened, I received the call from Jack Jones personally and he apologized for not being able to make it. He promised he would be in the next ceremony if we would still have him. I told him no problem, I would work it out. With only three days until showtime and no time to print additional ephemera, I started to panic. I called my dear friend Jackie Baskow, Las Vegas talent agent, and told her of my predicament. Jackie asked me if I had some type of master list of pre-approved legends, I did and sent it to her immediately. Within ten minutes she responded and asked me if Lou Rawls would be acceptable. Turned out he was doing a special event in town and was available for the induction ceremony. Fortunately he had heard of the Casino Legends Hall of Fame and wanted in. I spoke with him personally and explained that there was no time to print new invitations. I did tell him that he would be the highlight of this ceremony and promised him that I would make it up to him someday. He graciously accepted and I will never forget this incredibly talented and humble individual for saving the (My) day. Clint Holmes was my host/emcee and the audience was packed with past and future inductees. When Lou Rawls was called up to receive his induction he spotted The Checkmates in the audience and summoned them to the stage. Las Vegas magic was about to happen as the four of them began to sing together in an unscripted format creating a Hall of Fame moment I will never forget. Lou Rawls was a class act and so deserving of the honor he was about to receive. Jack Jones was inducted in 2004 and he was amazing as well. Sadly, Lou Rawls passed away in 2006. Jackie Baskow remains part of my inner circle to this day. Frankie Randall, Mafalda and Jack Carter have all passed away since being inducted that day. I personally received many awards that day and was known as a producer from that day on.

Thanks again Lou!
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Very impressive!
 
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Steve Cutler is not only the GOAT in terms of casino gaming collectibles, but also a personal friend of Sarah and mine.

You would not believe the gaming items and history he has been able to collect and has done the biggest deals in the whole hobby.

It is my pleasure to share his stories here on Pokerchipper as they are just incredible.

First let's meet Steve "the GOAT" Cutler

View attachment 3519

View attachment 3520

View attachment 3521
Fabulous
 
Upvote 0
Steve Cutler is not only the GOAT in terms of casino gaming collectibles, but also a personal friend of Sarah and mine.

You would not believe the gaming items and history he has been able to collect and has done the biggest deals in the whole hobby.

It is my pleasure to share his stories here on Pokerchipper as they are just incredible.

First let's meet Steve "the GOAT" Cutler

View attachment 3519

View attachment 3520

View attachment 3521
My of my favorite people, a true living legend, and most importantly...Just a very nice human being, with the most amazing stories to share. We met both Steve and his wife several years ago at one of the shows and have been hooked on the hobby every since.
 
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