Casinos like to put out the glamorous vibe as much as possible, and beautiful women are often a welcome accessory.
Well, it's pretty hard to beat Miss Universe 2013 and 29 candidates to take over for 2014. The women were the highlight of a $50,000 blackjack tournament -- like that isn't enough? -- at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek Friday.
The women, as you probably know, are in South Florida for Donald Trump's Miss Universe pageant. Contestants from 88 countries are competing in the pageant, which will name Miss Universe 2014 on Jan. 25 at Florida International University.
They've been taking dance lessons from Miami Heat cheerleaders and posing for frivolous photos.
Well, Julie Mullen's Buzz Agency, which does p.r. work for the casino, noticed the women had a free night in their stay here, so they helped book them for Coconut Creek (and later a trip to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood).
A 13-car police escort brought them to the property. Then they dined at NYY Steak, where, because they're still maintaining fighting weight, they were served the expected fruits and salad, but also chicken and miniature versions of the NYY Steak burger, which they "scarfed down," according to one official.
The women drew a larger-than-expected following as they paraded through the casino to the Seminole Coconut Creek Pavillion, which was decorated for the blackjack tournament, including servers and dealers (women) wearing tiaras. Apparently each country winner has a bit of a following, including, notably, Miss Philippines.
All of them well-composed, mannerly, yet friendly, the contestants stayed behind lightly roped off areas, but also posed for photos with well-wishers, a surprising number of which were middle-aged women.
"The girls packed, like five to seven suitcases each, so it's good for them to get a night to have fun, show off their party dresses and do their thing," said one of the Miss Universe pageant officials.
The reigning Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler of Venezuela, was whisked away for an in-house interview and the casino officials graciously waved me under the ropes so I could listen in on what she says. (I don't hear too well in crowds.)
She said "everyone's happy to have a time to relax," and the contestants were happy to have a night without the pressures of preparing for a competition
Then came a pause and I was asked if I had a question for Isler.
What to ask Miss Universe? I came up with:
"There's an American saying, lucky at cards, unlucky at love. Do you agree or disagree with that?" Hey, at least it wasn't "how do you feel?"
She laughed, and said "why do you have to lucky at just one thing?" and continued that often we are make our own luck, which I agree with.
Josh Cohen of West Palm Beach ESPN 106.3 handled the mic for the blackjack tournament, the finals of which included both the most successful players from early rounds but some blind-draw second chance patrons. He also did a humorous bit of asking the Miss Universe contestants how to say "six" in their native language, rigging it so that four Spanish-speaking women all said the same thing, then Miss Jamaica simply said "six."
A few minutes later, Isler and a handful of other candidates were whisked to Hollywood for the pre-tournament WPT Alpha8 party, the one that costs $100,000 to enter. As you can imagine, not a lot of people enter that event, and in this case only two players were at the Friday night part at the casino's new L Lounge. Talk about great odds.
The women were reportedly again friendly, almost gracious, at the party, officials said, as poker players can sometimes be a little introverted, and because the game is 90 percent men, the event might have been out of their element.
Being the gambling guy, it's incumbent on me to make a pick for Jan. 25. I'll go with Miss Argentina, with Miss Brazil a comfortable second.