Cirque du Poker?

by , Jul 21, 2008 | 1:22 pm

The poker shark just can’t seem to be jumped. While I don’t expect to see All In: The Musical on broadway any time soon, apparently some people believe that poker players actually go see shows, or at least that they are more likely to if the show is about poker. The Real Deal is gonna be part poker theatre, part poker tourney, part poker game show, with audience members interacting with various pros on stage via wi-fi at The Venetian. Poker thespians will include Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Antonio Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Phil Laak, Scotty Nguyen, and Todd Brunson — guess they’ve got nothing better to do with High Stakes Poker gone — and surely it is only a matter of time before Hellmuth wins a Tony and/or The Producers will be brought to you by No word on whether or not they plan to add hypnosis to the mix (“I will find inner peace and fold these pocket 10s”), but just to let the poker entertainmentpreneurs out there know, poker still has yet to be translated into any of the following:

Poker: the Topless Revue
Poker: the Pool
Poker: the Mechanical Bull Ride
Poker: the Buffet
Poker: the Surgery

Who says there still isn’t room for growth in this industry? Click below to read the full press release, and for more info about a show that will be sure to dazzle us in frightening ways before the end of the year:


New Show To Feature Poker Superstars Interacting With Audience Members
In A Live, Daily, High-Tech, Fun-Filled Extravaganza

LAS VEGAS (July 21, 2008) – The Real Deal!, the first ever live, interactive poker-themed stage show, will debut in The Venetian Showroom at The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas this fall, according to a joint announcement by entertainment industry icon Merv Adelson (no relation to Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of The Venetian’s parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp.) and the resort. Working in partnership with the world’s most renowned poker professionals, the show will introduce a new paradigm in entertainment, establishing a completely original live show format that combines humor, the latest in wireless technology, and abundant prizes in wildly-fun, fast-paced action that will entertain poker enthusiasts and non-players alike.

“The Venetian sets the standard for entertainment in Las Vegas and we are excited to add The Real Deal! to our existing line-up of world-class shows,” stated Jason Gastwirth, vice president of entertainment for Las Vegas Sands Corp. “When looking for a new concept to add to our entertainment lineup, we searched for an entirely new experience that would promote audience participation while incorporating well-known personalities that shine beyond the bright lights of the Strip—we found that in The Real Deal!.”

Staged in The Venetian Showroom as part of The Venetian’s extraordinary lineup of entertainment offerings, The Real Deal! will empower the audience to participate both on-stage and from their seats through the use of wireless touch screen devices. The Real Deal! will use a revolutionary multi-player platform with interactive content in conjunction with technology from TimePlay Entertainment, Inc. Playing both against and alongside the pros, audience members will earn points to vie for prizes ranging from The Real Deal! logo’d merchandise to spectacular home electronics and more, including a chance to win a $1 million grand prize.

The Real Deal! roster of poker pros represents a Who’s Who of the sport and includes the legendary Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Antonio Esfandiari, Gavin Smith, Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Phil Laak, Scotty Nguyen, and Todd Brunson. The pros will participate in shows each month, taking on Vegas visitors of all poker skills and experience. Combined, the The Real Deal! professionals have won 8 World Poker Tour Championships (WPT) and 35 World Series of Poker TM (WSOP) bracelets, amassing over $48,000,000 in tournament prize money.

“Never before has poker been so integrated with entertainment,” said Merv Adelson, the inspiration behind The Real Deal!. “The popularity of poker is unquestioned, as is the viability of live game show experiences in Las Vegas. The Real Deal! will keep guests laughing and give them the unique chance to get into the heads of the world’s best pros as they share tips and strategy throughout the fast-paced game. We know it will quickly become a hot ticket.”

Casting is underway for the show host, and the producers are talking with well-known comedians who they feel will bring an energized blend of humor and poker information to the audience while keeping the action moving. The chance to take on poker’s superstars without having to risk big money is more than enough to drive interest, but The Real Deal! goes far beyond the action on the stage, appealing to both poker aficionados and those who have never thrown a chip in a pot.

Participating audience members will play along during the on-stage game with a wireless handheld console. The large collection of prizes will be awarded to individuals based on their game performance, such as their play of the virtual “ninth hand.” However, there will be many other random winning moments! For example, audience members will be able to wager on simple instances that will occur during play, such as the suit of cards dealt on the flop. Every show, audience members will also have the chance to draw for a Royal Flush and win ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

An elimination process will result in the chip-leading pro, the final surviving amateur, and the point leader from the play-along audience, on stage for a three-handed finale.

“Poker fans have been able to view and enjoy professional poker action for years on television,” said Doyle Brunson, The Real Deal!’s lead poker professional. “This is different. Everyone in the audience can be in the game and compete with the pros and other guests. It is a one-of-a-kind-poker experience.”

The creation and production of groundbreaking entertainment is nothing new to Merv Adelson and the members of the production team. Merv Adelson, co-founder of Lorimar Telepictures and former vice chairman of Time Warner, Inc., put together an elite team headed by executive producer Gary Smith, an eight-time Emmy® Award winning producer and director of esteemed live shows including the Tony Awards and The Emmy® Awards, Producer Bill Nuss, who has written and produced over 300 hours of network primetime television, Chief Operating Officer Gary Adelson, a veteran Hollywood deal maker and producer, and Erick Brownstein, a highly regarded creative strategist and new media marketer, as Director of Technology.

The Real Deal! will entertain six days a week at The Venetian Showroom in Las Vegas, with shows at 4 pm and primetime performances on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In addition to general tickets, a limited number of VIP packages will be available for each show that include an opportunity to meet the poker stars after the show. For more information, visit Must be 21 years of age or older.

Statements in this press release, which are not historical facts, are “forward looking” statements that are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties or other factors beyond the Company’s control, which may cause material differences in actual results, performance or other expectations. These factors include, but are not limited to general economic conditions, competition, new ventures, government regulation, legalization of gaming, interest rates, future terrorist acts, insurance, and other factors detailed in the reports filed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, the largest property in the country to receive AAA’s Five Diamond Award and Mobil Four-Star, is one of the world’s most luxurious resort and convention destinations. Re-creating Venice’s legendary landmarks, the resort offers unmatched service and quality for leisure and corporate guests. Located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian features The Grand Canal Shoppes, an indoor streetscape complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, world-class gaming, exquisite restaurants, and a wide variety of entertainment such as Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular, Blue Man Group and Wayne Brady on its premises, as well as extensive convention and corporate services. For additional information, visit

About The Real Deal!
The Real Deal!, the first ever interactive poker stage show, pits audience members against the world’s best poker players in a funny, fast-paced, high-tech, prize-filled event that entertains poker enthusiasts and non-players alike. The show will debut fall of 2008 in The Venetian Showroom at The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas. A “to-go” version of the show is also available as a theme for corporate events worldwide. Events may be held in the Venetian Showroom, or at alternative event locations. Additionally, the production team is preparing to launch an online version of the show. For more information, visit

About TimePlay Entertainment
TimePlay Entertainment is a world leader in creating multiplayer interactive content. The company is capitalizing on the global consumer demand for interactivity through its patented CineLynx platform and unique content. TimePlay has advanced and expanded the existing world of interactive media to larger, more robust and socially engaging venues such as cinemas and casinos. TimePlay’s CineLynx platform allows multiple forms of interactivity including player to player, venue to venue and with mobile phones and online—parlaying huge existing audiences and infrastructure into a completely new entertainment experience. TimePlay has operations in the US, UK and Canada. For more information, visit

FYI to Falstaff: they’re taking applications.

5 Comments to “Cirque du Poker?”

  1. BJ Nemeth

    I don’t fully understand how this is going to work. It seems like the pros that they have listed represent a group, from which only two of them will actually be playing “live.” It also sounds like they could theoretically be playing remotely from home (online), and still be considered “live” as long as it is actually them.

    I’m also not certain that their list of pros doesn’t include other, less marketable names. It’s hard to tell if the list of pros in their press release is the *entire* list. I wonder which two players would show up the most.

    Finally, I’m generally not a fan of trademarked names that include punctuation*, like Guess?, Yahoo!, or The Real Deal!. Why must they always shout their name like that?

    I’m curious — not a lot, but a little — to see if this ultimately plays out like a game show or a pseudo-poker tournament.

  2. BJ Nemeth

    Oh, and that grand prize of “ONE MILLION DOLLARS”? Forty players get to draw five cards each (presumably from separate decks), and if any of them pull a natural royal flush, they win the million dollars.

    Good luck. The odds of getting a royal flush in five cards is about 650,000-to-1. Oh, I’m sorry. In this case that would be about 650,000-to-40, or roughly 16,000-to-1. Think it will run for 16,000 performances?

  3. California Jen

    Oh my.

    It sounds a little like the Price is Right…with poker. Instead of Bob Barker, we have Scotty Nguyen. And the audience participation? “Bob, I’d like to make a raise.”

  4. California Jen

    BJ, I put the over/under on a dozen shows before it gets canceled. I have a feeling we won’t see anything near 16,000 performances!

  5. Kevin Mathers

    This was the “Extreme Poker” concept that Gavin Smith was talking about earlier in the series.

    The way I read it, there’ll be two pros for each show, 6 members of the studio audience, with the rest of the audience making up the 9th player.

    I guess some of the pros are buying into it because it’ll help mainstream poker, because it looks like the shows are going to have an extremely fast format. The Tuesday/Thursday shows are 3 hours apart, so not a lot of “small ball” poker will be played.

    I don’t see the show continuing on January 1, 2009.