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John L. Smith

Joe Merica was a Vegas ‘Mad Man’

There was a time Joe Merica had this town by the tail. Don’t remember him? Even his cool name had a finger-popping snap to it that made you think of an endless Happy Hour and the clink of ice in fresh glasses.

Garner portrayed a classy gambler

Although he never won a World Series of Poker bracelet or a $1 million jackpot, James Garner’s “Maverick” character was the first acceptable gambler portrayed on television. He was handsome, clever, never cheated a sucker — and always outsmarted the bad guys.

Death of mob boss finally cuts Vegas ties

Detroit mobster Jack Tocco’s death of natural causes this past week generated barely a ripple of notice in Southern Nevada. But there was a time in the early 1980s when the mere mention of his name was enough to set state and federal law enforcement on the hunt for gangsters in the neon.