SEQUELS: Hanging Together

Even by the high-rolling standards of Las Vegas, it was a huge gamble. The players sat in a garishly decorated room alongside the Strip, pondering moves involving the highest sum ever played for in Nevada's green-felt gaming world. At stake: the Howard Hughes fortune, estimated at $2.5 billion.

The players were potential rivals.

On the one side were the old-line executives of the Summa Corp., to which Hughes had transferred most of his holdings after selling the Hughes Tool Co. in 1972. On the other was William Rice Lummis, 47, a Houston attorney,...

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