How Casino Gaming Infiltrated Reality TV

By Admin

June 7th, 2022

Often people will favour one kind of entertainment over the other, lean forward, or lean back. Those in the lean-forward camp enjoy interacting actively with their entertainment of choice while the lean-back cohort prefers getting comfortable on the sofa and just taking it all in. Television is the classic example of lean-back entertainment, while something like a casino game is a great example of the lean-forward variety.

So, the combination of casino gaming and reality TV is an interesting premise. There have been a surprising number of these shows, bringing together two different forms of entertainment to create programs that are almost impossible not to enjoy. Let’s look at some of the best casino-reality TV shows and see what it is that made them so brilliant.

Casino Confidential (2013)

Casino Confidential was an (in my opinion) tragically short-lived reality TV series. It aired for only one season, but that season was enough to make me fall in love with the hybrid casino-reality genre. It aired on TBC and showed a candid view of Binion’s Gambling Hall in Las Vegas. If you’re looking for the inside scoop on casino games or tips on how to beat the dealer, you’re out of luck. Instead, it masterfully combined drama and humor to let us take a peek inside the daily lives of casino employees. You couldn’t help but be drawn to the unique blend of personal stories, operational challenges, and the buzzy atmosphere of a working casino. You felt like you were looking over the shoulder of the staff as they candidly talked with one another (or sometimes just ranted) about the unexpected challenges that working at Binion’s brought them.

Poker After Dark (2007-Present)

Much more well known than Casino Confidential, Poker After Dark is exactly the kind of show you want to watch if you’re a hardcore poker enthusiast. The show airs late night on NBC and focuses on professional poker players in high-stakes games. Alongside the coverage, you benefit from commentary from poker experts on strategy and psychological tactics. It’s a brilliant reality TV show for those who want to hone their skills and a rare chance to get a front-row seat to the biggest games around. Those who already play poker will know how much strategizing goes into this game, and those who don’t will have their minds blown (I guarantee it) by Poker After Dark.

Breaking Vegas (2004-2005)

For this one, I’m breaking the mould slightly. Breaking Vegas isn’t reality TV and I won’t argue that it is, but it does tell the very real stories of some of the biggest legends in the world of gambling. It aired on the History Channel (for one devastatingly short year) and took up 14 episodes, each with a tale more fascinating than the last. Each of the characters that the documentary series covered had their own way of trying to beat the casino. It became something of a record of all the cat and mouse tactics of the casino and the player. If you’re interested in learning about card counting, past posting or card marking then this is the show to teach you. Be warned though, none of those skills will make you popular with the casino! For all that Breaking Vegas isn’t a reality TV show, it earns its place on this list by shining a spotlight on the ingenuity of some of the world’s most clever and cunning gamblers.

The Casino (2004)

Another one-series-wonder, The Casino showed us inside the lives of Tim Poster and Tom Breitling. The two are well-known millionaires who manage the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in the City of Sin. At the time, the pair were revamping the Golden Nugget, taking it from an outdated Vegas hideout to a glamorous destination that VIPs would be clamouring to play in. Despite being produced by Mark Burnett (known for bonafide reality TV hits like Survivor and The Apprentice), The Casino did not do well. In fact, in terms of ratings, the show absolutely nose-dived after the first couple of episodes. With just one series to watch, you might not be tempted to give it a go, but it’s a fascinating insight into the inner workings of a regenerating casino.

Caesars Challenge (1993-1994)

We might as well round things off with a healthy dose of chaos and that’s exactly what Caesars Challenge is. This casino-themed game show aired on NBC and was filmed inside the famous Caesars Palace in Vegas. It took the classic 90s gameshow and gave it a glamorous spin, inviting contestants to complete word puzzles and a general knowledge quiz all to the backdrop of the opulent Caesars Palace. The final round was where the casino setting really made sense, asking people to compete against a gigantic slot machine, revealing scrambled words. Like so many of the other shows on this list, it only lasted for one season. I can’t help but wonder how much longer it would have lasted if they’d leaned in to the casino theme a little harder.