Sunday, April 7, 2013

TV Review: Casino Confidential

I don’t usually review TV shows here, but I’m going to make an exception now.  I have to review this TV show because…well you’ll see.

The show is called “Casino Confidential” and it airs on TLC (a channel I didn’t even know I had until I now). I only heard about it a few days before it debuted, from a Facebook page (either Binion’s or Binion’s Poker Room).  It was one of those “reality” shows, supposedly a behind the scenes look at a famous Vegas casino.  In this case, the casino was Binion’s.
As has been documented here on this blog, that is a casino I have a little bit of familiarity with.  I wondered if there would be much if anything regarding poker depicted on the show, poker being the area of Binion’s I’m most familiar with.  Even if it didn’t, I’m kind of a sucker for anything Vegas related, as you might have figured out (check the name of the blog).  So I definitely I wanted to at least check it out and see if it was interesting or not, and also see if I might recognize anyone (either a Binion’s employee, or perhaps even a player).
Then when the FB page referenced it the day it was to air, they even mentioned that Paul, the poker tournament director, was the “star” of the first episode.  Oh wow, that certainly got my interest.  And yes, that is Paul’s real name.  I’ve used it before (see here) and also when I wrote about the Binion’s tournament in my Ante Up column.  Besides, he was right there on TV for all of cable television to see, so it wouldn’t make sense to give him the traditional blog pseudonym.  Besides, I have nothing to say about him that is even remotely embarrassing.  So, if he does anything in the future that is embarrassing—and for the sake of my blog, I sincerely hope that someday he does—I’ll just have to figure out a way to hide his identity then.
So I started watching the show, and it didn’t take long for them to get my interest.  I’ve talked about the “Cowgirls”, a group of hot girls that deal blackjack, craps and other pit games in supposedly sexy outfits (see here).  Well, just a couple of minutes into the show, they started talking about and showing the Cowgirls.
I immediately realized that this had been filmed some time ago.  The Cowgirls depicted on the show were wearing really sexy outfits, basically bikinis.  Ok, not quite bikinis, definitely not teeny weeny bikinis, but there was an awful lot of skin showing, particularly in the midriff area.  There might also have been some cleavage revealed, but of course, I never notice that sort of thing.
Since I’ve been visiting Binion’s regularly, I’ve never seen outfits that revealing or sexy on the Cowgirls, except maybe the first time or two.  Now they seem to wear modified football official jerseys, with not nearly as much skin showing.   In particular, the midriff area is much more modestly attired.
So I figured that this was at least a year or two old.  That was confirmed when they started talking about poker.  As part of the story in the first episode, they were anticipating the 5th annual Binion’s Poker Classic.  Hmmm….Sitting right here on my desk is the schedule for the 7th annual Binion’s Poker Classic, which I have to enter into AVP as soon as they get me the structures (hint).  So I knew this was two years old.  I figured that would reduce the likelihood that I’d see people I knew, although there are a lot of long time employees in the poker room.
The reason they were talking about the classic, and also about the Cowgirls, was that, if you believe the story they were telling, the head of Casino Operations got the idea to train one of the Cowgirls, who had never dealt poker before, to deal during the Poker Classic.  It seems they just didn’t have enough poker dealers they could bring in to handle the event, so they needed to try a hot craps dealer to fill the void.  Right.
Now all the Cowgirls depicted were good looking, of course.  But I don’t think it’s my imagination that the one they picked to train to deal poker was the most, well, generously endowed in the chestal area.  They said they picked her because of her “personality.”  Yeah. That’s it.  She had a lot of personality bursting out of her top.  In picking this girl to be the one they had to train they also made her the star of this section of the show.  Because of her personality, of course.
I believe the girl on the far right is the would-be poker dealer
Suddenly, there was a big close up of Paul talking about how he was skeptical that a blackjack/craps dealer could be trained to deal poker in such a short period of time.  His name was written in big letters on the TV screen, and he was referred to as the “Poker Room Manager.”  It’s possible he had that title when the show was filmed (and in the second episode, I saw the gentleman who actually is currently the poker room manager given the title “Casino Shift Manager” or something like that), but I know his title now is tournament director.  That said, it does seem like he is pretty much in charge over there (and is very good at his job, btw).
This set up a scene where Paul was training the girl to become a poker dealer.  I should point out that, the entire time this training session took place (at least for the cameras), the girl was wearing her skimpy Cowgirl outfit.  You, know the one with the bare midriff and the mega-cleavage.  Since this was a training session and didn’t involve real customers, there was no reason for her to be wearing this outfit.  She could have easily worn a conservative shirt and jeans.  But no, she was wearing her Cowgirl outfit.
If you are getting the impression I’m complaining about this, you would be wrong.
So we had this scene where Paul was training this hot gal who was wearing little more than a bikini—with a top that was probably a size too small.  Although only a few minutes of this appeared in the show, I’m sure it took hours and hours to film.
It must have been pure hell for Paul, sitting next to this hot gal for hours and hours.  Poor guy.
That led to the inevitable scene where the Cowgirl was thrown into the middle of the pool and had to deal one of the poker classic events the very next day.  Again, she wore her sexy Cowgirl outfit, which almost made sense.  I did mention in that post I linked to earlier that they had actually considered having Cowgirl poker dealers.  That said, if she was the only one dressed like that for a big tournament, it would have looked pretty weird.
The tournament scene showed Paul making a few rulings, giving players warnings….just like I see every week when I play there.  Hell, Paul once had to give me a warning (though it was all do to Poker Genius).  And, predictably, the hot, well-built craps dealer just couldn’t cut it as a poker dealer.
The reason she couldn’t cut it as a poker dealer?  No, it wasn’t her lack of skills.  They said it was her personality.  Both of them.  But all’s well that ends well.  The girl was returned to the pit, where her biggest problem is seeing the cards, the chips, and the dice, over her personality.
The live poker scene featured one player I recognized, and I’m surprised it was only one.  The guy directly to the dealer’s right is someone I see playing at Binion’s weekend tournaments almost every time I play.  I don’t know his name, but I see him all the time.  He was even heard chatting with the dealer.  Next time I play there, I’ll be sure to ask for his autograph (along with Paul’s).
The second episode (they show two a night) also had a poker theme, but this time Paul was nowhere to be seen.  Another guy was referred to as the poker manager, a guy I think I saw the very first time I played in the room and haven’t seen since.  This plot again revolved around a Cowgirl, but it was a Cowgirl who couldn’t cut it in the pit.  They gave her a chance in poker and lo and behold, she made it!  The show reported she was hired full time as a poker dealer, but as I’ve never seen her at Binion’s, either the story was bogus (what? No!) or she left before I started playing there.
That segment must have been filmed at a different time than the first segment, since the Cowgirl outfits were a lot less revealing than in the first episode. 
Although Paul wasn’t there, at the very last second I did see a familiar face.  I did indeed recognize a female poker dealer who was just in the background and did not have a speaking role.  It’s entirely possible I have mentioned this particular lady a time or two here on the blog.  But if I told you who she was, I’d have to kill you.
As for the non-poker part of the two episodes, well, it was pretty much what you’d expect from a casino-themed show.  Guys having a bachelor party right there in the casino, approached by hookers.  Hookers getting chased out of the place.  Of course they are going to make it look like the casino is protecting the innocent guys form the evil hookers! (although, there was no shot of an innocent blogger trying to observe the hookers in action in order to get a blog post)  A wedding where the Best Man is too drunk to make it to the wedding on time.  A wedding performed by the worst Elvis impersonator I’ve ever seen.  Oh, and a cat-fight between a couple of the Cowgirls and two of the “showgirls” who roam Freemont Street.  That was actually most interesting non-poker part of the show.
I don’t watch reality shows, and this is why.  The whole thing seemed contrived and scripted.  To the extent that it gives you a flavor of Las Vegas, it’s fine, but you know, if they are gonna basically give you a scripted show, well, the James Cann Las Vegas show did it a whole lot better.  So did the movie, The Hangover. 
Still, it did make me wish I was playing poker at Binion’s, and I guess maybe that is the point.  But I don’t know how much longer I’ll be watching when they stop showing people I know on it!

4/11/13 EDITED TO ADD:  Well, the 3rd and 4th episodes of the show were scheduled to air tonight....empasized on "were".  However they are no longer on the TLC schedule at all.  Apparently the ratings and/or the reviews were so bad that they couldn't justify keeping it on the air.  Will the rest of those episodes ever air?  Who knows.  Maybe they'll stick them on the web some time, or wait for a time when they can "bury" them.


  1. They didn't film any horny blog writers who frequent the poker tables there, did they?

    1. No, Lightning. I didn't see you there.

    2. Uh-oh, you need some ice for that lightning? BURN... :P

  2. I thought you only stalked hookers at the BSC?

    1. I think I buried my best joke in a parenthetical remark: (although, there was no shot of an innocent blogger trying to observe the hookers in action in order to get a blog post)

  3. Hey the PQ and I saw those episodes too. We thought the old dude to the left of the dealer in the first episode who told her she had to call the floor was a dealer we know from here in St Pete who goes out to Vegas from time to time. We were hoping to see you in there Rob. I didn't realize it was filmed two years ago.

    1. Thanks, Neo. Interesting about the St. Pete dealer, It was shot at the Binion's Classic, which of course is the same time as the WSOP so it's very likely he was out in Vegas then.

      When I first heard about the show, I actually did wonder if I was going to be on it somehow, in the background. But I probably would have noticed the cameras, right? Then I found it is was shot before I started really playing at Binion's, so I guess I missed my shot at stardom!

  4. I'm 150,005, not that I ever pay attention to those things... :)

    1. Bad timing, Coach. There was a $1,000 prize for the person who was exactly the 150,000 pageview. You were 5 too late.

      Sadly, some scummy Spammer was the 150,000th so I'll just keep the money.


  5. Interesting post? interesting comments=) well, nice blog. I adore casino games, play sometimes at for fun.