The 10 Best Poker & Casino Scenes from TV Shows

We recently had a look at our favorite casino and poker scenes on the silver screen and now we’re taking a look at how gambling has played out on the small screen: TV Shows. There have been many examples of where casino and poker games raised the stakes in our favorite tv shows. From comedies to dramas, there are many options out there. We combed through the archives to compile a list of our 10 favorites.

The Simpsons

One of the funniest casino scenes on any tv shows was when The Simpsons had a town hall meeting and Principal Skinner floated the idea of legalized gambling. Of course, he’s met with the sound of crickets when he suggests that the proceeds could go to support the underfunded public schools, but he’s met with vociferous cheer when the idea of just having a place to gamble comes up. The crowd even cheers when Mr. Burns says building a casino would give him the change to “tighten his stranglehold on this dismal town”. There are some great one-liners in this scene that will make you chuckle.

Realness Factor: 8/10

Sure, it’s a cartoon, but they covered many of the town hall topics that come up when cities consider opening up a casino. There’s a rich investor who probably stands to benefit, the topic of redirecting profits to help public programs is always front and center, and there are always moral concerns about gambling. The Simpsons just presents these topics in a more comical, sarcastic way.

South Park

In the South Park episode Red Man’s Greed, the owners of the Three Feathers Indian Casino have purchased the town of South Park. The citizens are being forced off the land unless they come up with $300,000 to buy the city back. The residents have a plan, though, as they band as a group and cobble together $10,000. The idea is that if they put all of the money they have on one number and win, they’ll have enough to buy the town back. They’ll also have $50,000 on top of it. They miraculously win and save the town but instead of stopping there, they decide to let it all ride again thinking that if they win again, they could “save the town and be super rich”, as Mr. Garrison puts it.

Of course, they end up losing it all on the next spin.

Realness Factor: 4/10

Of course, an entire town coming together to put their savings on one roulette number is unrealistic. However, it’s worth pointing out that many gamblers don’t know when to stop. Even when beating the odds, some feel like they can do it again and that’s part of the lesson that’s here.

Boardwalk Empire

One of HBO’s most underrated tv shows of the last decade is Boardwalk Empire, which focuses on the origins of Atlantic City. In this scene, Nucky Thompson, who is played by Steve Buscemi, isn’t taking any crap from his patrons at his casino. First, he cuts off Arnold Rothstein, who is up on the house and is trying to take from them. After, a different customer talks trash to him and then throws some of his cash at Nucky, which results in a quick two-piece beatdown before Nucky boots him from the joint.

Realness Factor: 5/10

There’s far too much drama in this scene compared to what actually happens at casinos. To start, when a casino cuts you off, they cut you off, so Rothstein’s clever line that the “casino’s credit is good for me” would never fly. Meanwhile, Nucky got too handsy with the second customer. Typically, security will just surround the player and remove him quietly as not to disturb anyone else.

The Office

One of the classic episodes from The Office is when Michael Scott decides to have a casino night. Each person in the office has to pick a charity, and the winner at the end of the night gets to donate $500. Of course, much of the comedy comes in when they start picking their charities as Scott wants to donate to “Afghanistanis With Aids”. The awkwardness continues when Michael Scott says he has “two queens on casino night” as he accidentally invites both of his love interests to the event and he add that extra touch when he says he’ll “drop a deuce on everybody”.

Note: This is one of the more popular episodes because after the casino action, Jim finally confesses his love for Pam and they kiss.

Realness Factor: 8/10

Although we don’t see a ton of actual gaming in the episode, it generally looks quite accurate. The setup is downstairs in the warehouse and everyone seems to be having fun with the various options available.

Friends

Phoebe from Friends frequently seems to find herself in some goofy situations. One of the more memorable ones is when she’s playing the slots and has an older granny lurking as she plays. After she confronts her, they both have a lurking competition, checking out to see who plays the slots but comes up empty. Eventually, Phoebe beats the lurker to the machine to push the button but the lady puts in the quarter. This causes a controversy and Phoebe is kicked out of the casino.

Realness Factor: 9/10

Silly as it sounds, this is actually a common situation in casinos that security has to keep an eye on. Slots players believe in “loaded slots”, which is when someone sits and plays slots for a while and then leaves without winning. The general thought is they’ve done a lot of the work. And now the next person that comes in could benefit.

Friends II

One of the earlier Friends episodes saw the six buddies engage in a game of poker. While both trios of guys and gals are involved, much of the action centers around Rachel and Ross, who are experiencing some tension at the table. Cocky Ross finds himself losing to Rachel, who continues to remind him that he’s losing.

Realness Factor: 7/10

From what we can tell, this looks fairly authentic. Most of the tv shows’ scene is focused on the dialogue. But from what we see with the betting, the bluffing and the results, it all looks fairly accurate.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David just can’t seem to avoid those awkward situations and poker night is no different. Playing a game with his close friends, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has bluffed everyone out of the biggest pot of the night. Nobody even challenged her. David starts going around the table to see what others had to see why they didn’t go in and it turns out one player had an Ace-high that he decided to fold. David can’t believe and calls him out, crossing the line with some cringy insults that mostly felt like locker room talk, but clearly offended others. They, in turn, call Larry out for his inappropriate comments and call it a night.

Realness Factor: 9/10

Leaving aside whether the players overreacted, the gaming itself was quite accurate. They went around the table and nobody felt they had strong enough cards to go in. A couple of players had a two and a four, and others weren’t confident either. Louis-Dreyfus was the last player in the order, so that helped her out that particular round.

The Wire

Poker starts to become an integral part of one of our favorite tv shows,  The Wire in Season 4. The show’s top gangster, Marlo, has an affinity for the game. Omar, the street vigilante, gets a tip on a high-stakes game and he ends up breaking in and robbing Marlo and everyone else. While Omar didn’t know what he was doing at the time, it would end up leading to his demise later as Marlo would hit back in search of his own revenge.

Realness Factor: 5/10

We can’t be too critical here as we don’t see a lot of game. The scene starts off with Marlo winning with a full house but that’s when Omar breaks in, rips and runs.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

You might not realize it but poker was a common theme on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is featured in at least 10 separate episodes. From Data wearing a visor to Commander William T. Riker bluffing his colleagues out of pots, there were all sorts of interludes with the game.

In this scene, they’re playing Five-Card Stud with nothing wild. Data sees the game as simple as his robotic strategy is to do the math then determine the strength of each opponent’s hand based on how much they bet. Of course, that doesn’t take into account bluffing. Eventually, he gets bluffed out of the pot even though he has three queens.

Realness Factor: 10/10

Star Trek did a better job than most tv shows to ensure accuracy here. The players went around with their bets, carefully examining their cards and making their decisions. Of course, the fun element in this was Data. He was trying to calculate both the poker odds and whether Commander Riker was showing his poker face.

How I Met Your Mother

In this episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall Eriksen is marrying Lily Aldrin in Atlantic City. However, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) has come to the boardwalk on a business trip. He’s clearly been in the casino many times. He engages in a serious game with three other Asian men – who seem to recognize him – although it’s completely unclear what the game is.

Realness Factor: 0/10

We’re all but left to think that this game is merely a comedic element of the episode. The players keep sliding in chips, betting one after another before anything happens in the game. Only then are cards dealt and then tiles too. Then the players all get up and change seats, which is followed by the dealer rolling the dice. After that, Stinson signals to a lady to spin a big wheel. Then, on the advice of Marshall, he splits his tiles. He chooses one hand from six women who are holding out closed fists in hopes of finding the jellybean. When he does, the crowd erupts and he wins some massive jackpot. Whatever happened here is completely unrealistic.

Dave Golokhov

Dave Golokhov

For nearly two decades, Dave Golokhov has been working with his passions in the mainstream media as well as the sports betting realm. Some of the highlights include hosting several radio shows on Sirius Satellite Radio, television appearances and interviewing hundreds of high-profile stars like Shaquille O'Neal and Floyd Mayweather. Dave is also the founder of WERSTARS, a website app to save and the moments of your life.

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