The Big Screen in the Cave

Old-time TV made people feel goodSource: Flickr

Television defined the culture of the twentieth century. TV shows brought people together even when they were apart. Families used to huddle together around the old black-and-white screen as if it was the fire in a big old cave. The link between TV and gambling is quite basic: fun and entertainment is a deep human need. Maybe it should be a human right. Just like TV, gambling is common in most human societies, with ancient gamers even using the knucklebones of sheep as dice to keep themselves entertained. Imagine how thrilled they would be to play games in a casino online! Today, the hold of television has been eroded by the multiplication of digital devices, but today’s knucklebone ninjas can still stay up to speed with gambling inspired TV shows like these ones.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas was an American television show that ran from 2003 to 2008.  Set in a fictional Vegas hotspot called the Montecito Resort and Casino, the show had a hot couch following around the world. Top dog in the show is the savvy ex CIA agent, Ed Deline, who is in charge of security at the casino. James Caan brings a real hard core energy to the roll and exudes ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’.

Created by Gary Scott Thompson, the action had all the hallmarks of a good comedy drama with episodes dealing with the hot sizzle of the running of a successful casino. Whether it was the fabulous in-house shows or the ins and outs of Food and Beverage issues that arose, all were tackled and ironed out by a star-studded cast consisting of Josh Duhamel, James Caan, James Lesure and Vanessa Marcil.  Viewers were also treated to a fair smattering of cameo roles by some super big names during the five season Vegas extravaganza with non other than the likes of Paris Hilton, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme, Elliott Gould and Alec Baldwin.

On tilt

Created by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who co-wrote the poker-themed feature film Rounders, Tilt is set in a fictional “World Championship of Poker” tournament in Las Vegas.  Everyone seems to have their own private reason for wanting to take down legendary gambler Don “The Matador” Everest…

Being “on tilt” is poker jargon for basically letting life get to you to the extent that it effects your poker-playing judgment. With the tagline “You’re playing poker. They’re playing you”, there is no reason to doubt that the action delivers scenarios, in which every day stresses and frustrations messes with the players’ mojo.

The show cunningly features one form of poker—no-limit Texas hold’em, which, in no small part, is meant to capitalize on the rise in popularity of no-limit hold’em at the time…  ESPN who aired the show also coincidentally covered the real-life World Series of Poker (WSOP), the event upon which the “World Championship of Poker” (WCOP) portrayed in Tilt is most likely based. It was a win-win, as they say!

TV culture is for everyoneSource: Flickr

Breaking Vegas

Originally running on The History Channel in America in the spring of 2004, Breaking Vegas investigates the great lengths people go to make money.  Most interestingly, their wicked illegal ploys to swindle boodle from casinos.

We are given an insight into the fascinating and shady world of cheats who use sleight-of-hand tricks or some sort of device to card mark. Other revelations uncover how swindlers used past posting to line their pockets. Past posting involves placing a late bet. For example in blackjack, it is most often done with side bets because it is easier for the blackjack player to sneak chips on to the stack without the dealer realising. There are also some unconventional strategies such as taking advantage of a worn-out ball bearing on a tilted roulette wheel, and the more mainstream card counting that get a look-see in this fascinating whirl through some bad-boy techniques.

We even have mob-funded venture capital MIT professors who earn themselves impressive nicknames such as “Professor Blackjack” by using their computer aided card-counting schemes to rake in the cash.

Luck and Dealer’s Choice

Worth a mention for their TV entertainment value are ‘Luck’ staring Dustin Hoffman as “Ace” Bernstein, who schemes up a plan to make it big at a California’s Santa Anita Park racetrack with a good injection of casino gambling. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after three horse deaths during production. Dealer’s Choice was an old school American game show aired in the mid-70s, which centred on various casino-type games. This is audience participation at its best…games of chance for ordinary people. What’s better than watching an old gran make it big or rooting for the guy with the checked shirt?!

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