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The Real Deal! Poker Show Premiere a Star-Studded Event

Poker Pros and Legendary Entertainers On Hand for Opening Night


The Real Deal!The Venetian's new poker-themed stage show, The Real Deal!, had its opening last night, and poker pros and legendary celebrities were on hand for the star-studded affair.

The entire Real Deal! cast was there to greet fans. Real Deal! pros Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Scotty Nguyen, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, Gavin Smith, and Eli Elezra got onstage to be greeted like rock stars before all but Hellmuth and Negreanu took their seats in the audience. Some of the non-poker celebrities at the opening included Bob Newhart, Tim Conway, Don Johnson, Robert Wagner, and Steve Lawrence. But they didn't just come to watch, they came to play. The legendary entertainers, along with poker pro and actress Jennifer Tilly, got onstage to play against poker superstars Hellmuth and Negreanu in a turbo sit-and-go-style tournament.

Jennifer HarmanBut those cultural icons weren't the only ones who played against the pros, most of the audience did, as well. The audience was literally dealt into the action onstage, and card-reading technology beamed the holecards to touch-screen PCs sitting at most seats in the room, allowing audience members to decide whether to fold or call on each street in the hands. Audience members got points based on hands well played — along with various prop bets, like whether the flop would contain cards of a certain color, suit, or rank — and were ranked on a leader board. The players who topped the leader board got prizes and the chance to play onstage heads-up against a poker legend, which, in last night's case, was 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Doyle Brunson.

The audience also got the chance to play for huge prizes — including $1 million — by playing a game called 52-pick'em. Every audience member with a touch-screen PC picked five cards from 52 facedown cards on their screens. Anyone making a royal flush with those five cards would earn the grand prize, while other prizes were Antonio Esfandiarigiven for other high hands, such as a $75,000 necklace for a straight flush.

The show's host, Vinnie Favorito, kept the action rolling with witty commentary that put the audience in stitches. He was joined onstage by co-host Kenna James, a poker pro who is more than comfortable at the tables.

The show is set to run Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday at 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Venetian box office at (702) 414-9000. Tickets range from $35-$125, the more expensive of which give the ticketholder access to one of the touch-screen PCs and the opportunity to meet members of the cast after the show.