Much of what we watch on TV can be related to real-life unless you are sticking to purely Sci-Fi or Fantasy (and even then, there are similarities).
Watching TV that you can relate to can make you fall in love with the characters faster or enjoy the show more. Sometimes you want to watch something that feels ‘real’.
The best TV shows have a mix of people doing everyday things together, like playing games or eating meals, and then the exciting, high-octane moments too.
Throughout TV history, poker games have been are used as an entry to a twist in the plot, someone ‘getting their comeuppance’, or just coming together and playing a game.
Poker and casino moments in TV shows are often high speed, exciting, and have many high-paced poker scenes, relaxed online casino moments, or casino floor montages.
Which card game moments are worth a revisit or a first-time watch?
The Simpsons have multiple casino and poker scenes—more than you might think.
The Simpsons are known for tackling (and even predicting) a massive range of topics, so it’s no wonder they have a few episodes that focus on poker and casinos.
Shortlist of the best ones:
Sky Police – Season 26, Episode 16 – Chief Wiggum wrecks the church, and the congregation will go to any length to help. Including gambling. Apu teaches Marge and the gang to count cards.
Viva Ned Flander – Season 10, Episode 10 – Ned questions his life, and in a moment of uncharacteristic spontaneity, Flanders goes with Homer to LAs Vegas.
Homer is demonstrating his roulette method, and Flanders picks a winner. What follows is typical Flanders and Homer fun.
$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) – Season 5, Episode 10 – Homer is the casino dealer in this one, and of course, true to Homer style, he simply can’t handle it well. Merge gets addicted to the fruit machines, and Bart starts his very own casino.
The scene that is discussed at length is the Arnold Rothstein poker scene. Many critics have said the scene was pretty weak. The string raising is under scrutiny, as ishow they played in general.
Some say they are playing a 5-card draw, as Texas Hold’em wasn’t as popular then. Although there is some debate, Texas Hold’em is said to have been around in the 1800s.
Other poker enthusiasts blogged that they were playing 7-card stud.
Arnold Rothstein from Boardwalk Empire is based on a real person, and Arnold himself loved to gamble.
The American Mafia History blog talks about Arnold Rothstein’s love of gambling, and it is rumoured that he was involved in two of the biggest scandals for sport fixing.
Not only that but in October of 1928, a high-stakes poker game that saw Arnold in the red for $320,000 turn bad. Arnold claimed the game was rigged and left. A few days later, he was shot, and he never told police who the shooter was before he died.
The Boardwalk Empire scene is tense, and words are exchanged. With Arnold poking Nucky to get him to raise and play a little more aggressively. In the end, Arnold loses, but not before he needs a marker from the house for $200,000.
While the scene isn’t energetic, it’s designed to be a slow burner.
Friends, although the humour of the era might fall flat nowadays, there are some touching moments between the group in general.
The opening of episode 18, season 1, starts with Chandler, Ross and Joey playing poker. Phoebe asks why only the ‘men’ are invited, and they simply say they don’t know any ‘girls’ that can play.
Ross, Chandler and Joey won’t teach Rachel and Phoebe how to play, but this doesn’t stop them from wanting to join in.
What follows is two women quickly trying to learn a game, Rachel winning and Ross not showing his cards.
We have all had moments where we are willing the other person to get their win, and this was a fine example of that.
When you think about gangster TV shows, The Sopranos is high on the list.
The Sopranos is a gritty tv-series with a lot of heart. The episode is called The Happy Wanderer and is episode 6 of season 2.
A compulsive gambler is banned from playing poker until he pays his debt to Richie.
During a moment of thought, Tony (the main character) gives Davey $5,000 to buy into an executive game he is managing for a friend who is under house arrest.
The game runs into the night, and Tony falls asleep, only to wake up to Davey being $45,000 down.
Davey ends up in a lot of trouble from multiple sources.
Games, where people gather and play together, have always been used as a way to humanise characters; this is true for Star Trek too.
All Good Things… episode 26, season seven, sees Picard trying to display everything great about humanity to Q.
He jumps Picard to being able to see the future, and the final moments are the crew huddled playing cards.
A few moments before they start, Picard enters the room and declares he should have joined them playing a long time ago.
The game of poker, in this instance, is showing that in the end, games bring people together.
These few moments in TV history demonstrate how much poker is woven into the fabric of society in one way or another, from serious games and gangsters to card counting church go-ers.