On September 25, 2009 high stakes gambler and Las Vegas innovator Bob Stupak passed away of leukaemia. He was 67 years old and had been battling the cancer for some time. He spent the last moments of his life with close family at Desert Springs Hospital. Following his wishes, Stupak will be cremated and no funeral services will be held.
Stupak, better known for constructing part of the Vegas skyline and making outlandish bets, was also an accomplished poker player. Over his lifetime, he made several tournament cashes in the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. In 1989 he won a WSOP Deuce to Seven Lowball championship bracelet, and also appeared on the first season of High Stakes Poker and at the final table of the first World Poker Tour season. His lifetime tournament winnings exceeded $850,000.
More famous than his poker success though were his wild gambling antics. In 1989, Stupak won a cool $2,050,000 after placing a $1,00,000 bet on the outcome of SuperBowl XXIII. In the same year he also bet Donald Trump $1 million that he could beat Trump at his new board game. Trump declined.
Forever marking the Vegas skyline and the visionary life of Bob Stupak is the 1,049-foot Stratosphere. Stupak designed the tower to be an icon of Vegas and the tallest structure in Nevada. It opened in 1996, earning him the title of “Mr. Las Vegas” by the Las Vegas City Council. Though it was sold to Carl Icahn in 1998 after going bankrupt, the Stratosphere is now profitable and one of the cornerstones of Vegas.
The Stratosphere was only one of the creations of Stupak. He also created the Bob Stupak’s World Famous Historic Gambling Museum, which burned down on May 21, 1974. In 1974, he opened the casino Vegas World where new twists on games, such as “crapless” craps, Polish roulette, and experto, were introduced. Some ideas of Stupak’s that never materialized included a hotel designed like the RMS Titanic and the purchase of the Moulin Rouge Hotel.
The Stratosphere released the following statement. “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. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”