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The Polish Maverick By Steve Cutler

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Bob Stupak, known as the “Polish Maverick”, entered my life in 1992. I was working at The Desert Inn on swing shift and Bob would come in about twice a week in the wee hours of the morning. He loved playing craps and would draw $50,000 from his credit line on every visit. I didn’t know who he was, but I learned quickly. He played fast and I don’t recall ever seeing him walk out a winner. He was a casino owner and in fact had owned many casinos. His prior Casino ownerships included Glitter Gulch, Bob Stupak’s Sinabar and current ownership of Vegas World. He was getting ready to close Vegas World and develop the tallest structure West of the Mississippi and certainly the tallest in Las Vegas. In addition to owning casinos, he was also known as a serious gambler, one time making a $1,000,000 bet on a football game. He won that bet incidentally! He was also known for his poker playing skills and participated in all the high stakes Texas Hold’em games around town. In addition, he once ran for Mayor in Las Vegas. He also dated Phyllis McQuire of McQuire Sisters fame. She also was the girlfriend to the infamous Sam Giancana. After leaving the Desert Inn in 1994 I didn’t have contact with Bob. My wife, Sheryl Slakoff however developed all the retail operations at the newly constructed Stratosphere Tower which replaced Vegas World Casino. In 1998 Bob re-entered my life when I opened the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana. He knew my name from the various other attractions I had opened and from seeing me on TV from time to time. He contacted me through public relations and asked if he could meet with me. Of course, I met with him as I always considered Bob to be the best marketing and promotions guy in the history of Las Vegas. By this time, he was working on his next Casino project, he had lost the Stratosphere in bankruptcy proceedings, and it was taken over by Carl Icahn. We would meet several times a week to brainstorm ideas at Cafe Nicole, a local hang for movers and shakers at the time. He was a heavy smoker and usually had two or three cigarettes burning at one time and always was drinking strong coffee. When I reminded him of when we met years ago at the Desert Inn, he became even more intrigued with me as he attempted to connect the dots. He was pitching a casino concept to investors at the time. He owned a small motel a few blocks north of the Stratosphere named The Thunderbird, not the original, his idea was The Titanic Casino. He asked what I thought of the idea and shared plans and renderings with me. I told him that I thought that was a horrible theme, after all who would want to gamble on a sinking ship. I tried to convince him of a Vintage Vegas theme utilizing authentic artifacts for decor. He liked my idea, but his ego got the best of him. I guess no one else liked the Titanic idea as it never went forward. I considered him a mentor at this point as he was a self-taught marketing genius. We continued our meetings, and he was instrumental in helping me secure the life size statue of himself that was located at the base of The Stratosphere Tower. It was bronze and layered in 14 carat gold (Over 3 pounds). The cost to make this statue exceeded $100,000. In February of 1999 we had the ribbon cutting for the opening of The Casino Legends Hall of Fame. It was my honor to induct The Polish Maverick into The Casino Legends Hall of Fame, we inducted him in two categories. Builders and Visionaries and Gamblers. As this was the first Induction Ceremony, we inducted a large group to get off the ground, including The McQuire Sisters, Kenny Rogers, The Rat Pack, Liberace, and many other legends. Sadly, Bob Stupak died in 2009 from leukemia. You will always be remembered as the greatest promoter in the history of Las Vegas. RIP my friend.
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