Dot-com dedication led to Golden (Nugget) years for local entrepreneur

Anything is possible.

Just ask Tom Breitling, who, along with best friend and business partner Tim Poster have already had success in the Internet travel and Las Vegas hotel-casino worlds.

"I always underpromise and overdeliver," Breitling said as we went over a monthly report of online room reservations made by Las Vegas Reservation Systems back in 1998. I was running, and Las Vegas Reservation Systems was one of our first revenue-sharing partnerships.

The concept was simple: We got a slice of sales from people who clicked into the travel booking area of our site and made a purchase on Las Vegas Reservation Systems. We made money when they made money.

And did they make money. The company, which was renamed Travelscape, grew from $12 million in sales in 1997 to more than $250 million in 2000, according to Breitling, who is promoting his first book, "Double or Nothing," which was released last week by Harper Collins.

The book sells for $24.95, and can be read in its entirety for free until April 14 on the publisher’s site. The easiest way to get there is by starting at, which is devoted to promoting the 243-page read, co-authored by Cal Fussman, a writer for Esquire magazine.

The book follows the dot-com days of Breitling and Poster and the details of the sale of Travelscape to Expedia in 2000 for the equivalent of $105 million in stock. The partners took their profit and became the youngest hotel owners in Las Vegas when they purchased the Golden Nugget, which they sold for a profit of $113 million.

The book opens with the story of a high roller who took the house for $8.5 million in a couple of weekends, and the strain that put on the Breitling-Poster relationship.

"I really wanted to be candid," Breitling said. "I included how nervous we were and how scared we were when we took over the hotel. Tim’s passion for taking the action and the high limits and his desire to be the next Jack Binion are wedges that could easily divide two friends.

"The partnership stayed strong, and that’s the power of a good partnership. You get through anything," Breitling said. "This book just screams ‘partnerships.’ We all deal with the effects of relationships, good and bad."

Their Nugget days were covered in part by the 2004 reality television show "The Casino," and are painted in greater behind-the-scenes detail in the book.

Breitling, 38, married Vanessa Tarazona last June, and they’re expecting their first child. Vanessa is with Nike, and gives Tom a pair of personalized shoes every year. Breitling laughed as I recalled his first pair of customized sneakers, which he designed on the Nike site and had them in hand in only four days back in 2000.

Breitling isn’t tipping his hand on his next move, but the smart money says he and Poster will team up for another Las Vegas adventure.

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