Herbert Blitzstein, also known as Fat Herbie, is a notorious gangster whose most productive years were between the late 1950s and the early 1990s. Blitzstein, who began his career as a prominent bookmaker in Chicago, retreated to Las Vegas to avoid prison. His illicit activities in Las Vegas would get him listed on the Nevada State Gaming Commission’s black book, making it virtually impossible for him to set foot in the casinos there.
Please read his detailed biography to learn more about Blitzstein’s boyhood, his time in Las Vegas, and the enigmatic events that led to his murder. You will definitely learn something you did not previously know.
Herbert Blitzstein was born in downtown Chicago on November 2, 1934. His family was extremely impoverished and could barely afford food. His criminal career began at a young age, when he stole food from local grocery stores and produce kiosks so his family wouldn’t perish. To earn more money for his family, Blitzstein took up gambling. He was frequently observed scamming individuals at the pool tables of a nearby saloon. On occasion, he would even play poker, and he was renowned for his table abilities.
Blitzstein joined a gang after dropping out of high school and became a well-known racketeer. Because he was towering and substantial, no one ventured to provoke him. During this time, Blitzstein met Henry Kushner, a bookmaker who worked for the underworld and was renowned for generating millions of dollars annually for them. Since Kushner would soon be entering prison, he requested that Blitzstein take over his clients. After several weeks of extensive collaboration with Kushner, he volunteered to assume his place.
Blitzstein was a successful bookmaker for a number of years before he was forced to abandon Chicago in order to avoid prosecution for unlawful wagering. Since he had never left Illinois before, he was uncertain of where to go. Anthony Spilotro persuaded him to relocate to Las Vegas with him so they could start a business together.
Blitzstein and Sin City
Blitzstein and Spilotro launched The Gold Rush, a jewelry emporium. While they did sell jewelry there, the store’s primary function was to facilitate money laundering.
They were members of the “Hole in the Wall” gang, which successfully robbed businesses, banks, and casinos throughout Nevada. Their signature technique consisted of punching holes in the walls of the locations they robbed, hence their name.
Blitzstein would frequently use the money he earned while traveling with the group to play poker at local casinos. He was notorious for spending thousands of dollars wherever he went. Although he occasionally won money, he never seemed to be able to retire while he was ahead.
In 1981, members of his crew were apprehended while attempting to loot a convenience store. In hopes of receiving a reduced sentence, those apprehended informed the police of Blitzstein and Spilotro’s criminal history and led them to their hiding place. The defendants were charged with money laundering and racketeering. A few jurors purportedly accepted bribes from the underworld, rendering their first trial invalid. By the time of the second trial, Spilotro had been executed.