King of the Slots
William "Si" Redd
by Jack Harpster
May 2010, 273pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38208-6
$49, £37, 43€, A67
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38209-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The son of dirt-poor sharecroppers, William “Si” Redd reached the pinnacle of business success despite shortcomings that have stymied less-determined men. His legendary sales and marketing genius, coupled with a natural instinct for the marketplace, catapulted him through a seven-decade romp in an industry famous for mobsters, glad-handers, and legends like Howard Hughes.

This book offers the first full-length biography of the man often described as one of the most influential and innovative people in the gaming industry over the past 50 years.

King of the Slots: William “Si” Redd relates the fascinating, only-in-America success story of one man’s improbable rise from the depths of poverty to the heights of international commerce and dazzling wealth. William Silas “Si” Redd is recognized as one of the most important and influential persons in the gaming industry over the past half century. The company he founded, International Game Technology (IGT), is the world leader in the manufacture of gaming equipment and gaming software features. His video poker is the most popular slot machine since the original debuted in 1899.

King of the Slots covers the life (1911-2003) and rags-to-riches story of the man who changed the face of the casino gaming industry. Both a business book and a biography, it introduces readers to the nation’s leading gaming centers, Apollo-era technology and how it changed gambling, and the race to perfect the first video poker game. It also gives them a chance to meet the characters with whom Redd rubbed shoulders, including Howard Hughes, Mafia capo Raymond Patriarca, Arizona cowboy and pig farmer Jimmie Hughes, gaming legend Bill Harrah, and casino visionary Jay Sarno.


  • Original research that includes interviews with more than two dozen gaming-industry insiders
  • Presents oral histories, including two by Redd himself, corporate records from gaming machine manufacturers, gaming industry journals, newspapers, and gaming scholars books and reports
  • Includes 30 photographs of prominent people, places, and events, and gaming machines that figured in the life of "Si" Redd
Jack Harpster worked in business management in the newspaper industry for 43 years. His published works include The Railroad Tycoon Who Built Chicago: A Biography of William B. Ogden; John Ogden, the Pilgrim (1609-1682): A Man of More Than Ordinary Mark; 100 Years in the Governor's Mansion; and Helping Hands, Helping Hearts: The Story of Opportunity Village. His latest work, Captive! David Ogden and the Iroquois, will be published by Praeger in 2011.


"Harpster packs an incredible amount of detail–based on exhaustive research–into this biography, giving the reader a surprisingly vivid portrait of Redd. He is to be commended for drawing on a range of sources and melding them into a readable story. . . . Even Las Vegas and casino history buffs will learn quite a bit from King of the Slots. It’s a well-researched look into the life of an important, but undeservedly lesser-known, gaming pioneer. It deserves a place in everyone’s Nevada/gambling library."—, August 2, 2010

"As a longtime pinball machine and jukebox distributor, Si Redd's insight and drive had a profound effect on the evolution of modern-day casino slot machines. Through his development of video poker slots, the first million dollar jackpot, and the founding of International Game Technology -- today the world's largest manufacturer of coin-operated gaming machines -- Redd's innovations have had an unparalleled affect on gaming worldwide. Jack Harpster's biography portrays the remarkable story of this colorful individual who was a predominant figure in the development of today's casino gaming industry."—Marshall Fey, grandson of Charles Fey, the inventor of the three-reel slot machine, and author of Slot Machines: America's Favorite Gaming Devices

"Si Redd is truly one of the founding fathers of the gaming industry. It's hard to imagine what our industry would be like today without him. Si's vision led to the birth of video poker and wide-area progressive jackpots -- two games that helped revolutionize and enrich the gaming experience, and have become favorites of millions of casino players across the country. But the visionary businessman was just one side of Si. Those of us who knew him saw another side as well: a philanthropist dedicated to creating a better community for all. The man you're about to read about led a truly inspiring life, and this book will help ensure that his legacy to our industry and our community will not be forgotten."—William S. Boyd, Executive Chairman of the Board, Boyd Gaming Corporation
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.