For The Baffler, Erica Vital-Lazare explores the gravitational pull that Las Vegas had on her absent father, a man who left his wife and three daughters to for a life in Sin City, gambling under the protection of career criminal Benny Binion.

The Horseshoe is at the center of the circuit my father navigated between the Plaza, the Mint, and the El Cortez. The ringmaster-dealer in a game of craps, the stickman handles the dice with the curved end of his stick, presenting a player with a seemingly fated set of numbers, which they must pluck as is from the table and roll. In a town known for rules skewed in favor of the house, my father refused the dice as the stickman set them. His technique was to re-pattern the bones, turn the sixes up, the fives aligned and facing each other. Essentially, reworking his fate.

Once, when a dealer at the Horseshoe threatened to eject my father for resetting before the toss, Benny Binion stepped in. My father had been previously introduced to the famed casino-mogul by fellow self-made casino legend Sam Boyd. Draping an arm at his shoulders, Binion walked my father from table to table, dealer to dealer. “You see his face,” he said. “This is my friend. Let this man do as he likes.”