In the fall of 1977 Steve took Pearl to Caesars Palace in South Lake Tahoe to meet Frank Sinatra after one of his performances. (Venét had been Sinatra’s A & R man at Reprise Records during the early 1960s.)
After the show and party were over, we wandered into the Poker room at the old Sahara Hotel. Attracted to the colorful characters vivaciously playing an early morning poker game; Venét grabbed a pencil, or rather a Keno crayon and started sketching everyone.
The players started putting chips in front of Venét, saying: “ Draw me!” THE REST YOU COULD SAY IS HISTORY. Venét has been creating poker paintings of games and tournaments ever since.
Venét has sketched people for practically his whole life and throughout all of his worldly travels. Venét’s father had a coffee house where the men would play cards, so sketching images of people playing poker came naturally to him.
Ironically, the poker room in South Lake Tahoe where we spent so much time, turned out to be the same room where Amarillo Slim brought his Super Bowl of Poker tournament a few years later. It was like our poker art energy attracted it there.
We moved to the Reno/Tahoe area, and Venét continued to sketch, paint and illustrate poker people and games for various hotels and publications. We moved down to Las Vegas where we met Eric Drache and Doyle Brunson who were running the poker room at the Silverbird Hotel.
After the Silverbird closed down, we frequented the Dunes poker room, where Venét sketched Chip Reese, Johnny Moss, Sarge Ferris, Stuey Ungar and many other top poker players.
Venét continued to paint poker games in Vegas for the players and create poker illustrations for the publications. And of course, we started going to the World Series of Poker every year. Venét focused much attention on the game of poker, before it was popular and on television regularly.
He consciously chose bright cartoon colors in his paintings to help bring the game into the light and out of the dark smoke-filled back rooms.
Venét has continued to document poker games through his paintings, and has painted the World Series of Poker final for 35 years straight.