The connection between television and gambling got somewhat blurred and much more straightforward when activities like poker, for example, burst into the mainstream. Now you can watch everyone from the game’s biggest stars to some of your favorite actors stack their chips and/or fold their cards on a daily basis. Many of them have recalled hosting games in their own homes or college dorm rooms with friends and family members alike. And plenty of others have honed their skills playing online poker. Speaking on a more personal level, one of the most intuitive places to do that is at Betfair, where you’re able to play and win some cash in virtual tournaments to get ready for the real thing.
Beyond that, though, gambling has penetrated TV land in more ways than simply having its own shows, specials, tournaments, and the like. In case you haven’t noticed, there have been some poignant (and pretty hilarious) gambling-related moments portrayed on the small screen over the past years. We were able to come up with three right off the top of our heads, especially considering how crucial they were to the plots of certain episodes and character arcs.
One of the most recent examples of this occurred in episode 16 (“Control”) of the first season of New Girl. The main narrative of the episode focuses on Jess trying to help Schmidt regain the ability to relax, which causes a downward spiral for both him and the entire apartment. But the story between Nick and Winston is equally important, and perhaps even more entertaining, as the two attempt to figure out who owes what and how much to the other. And what sets off that whole bit? A (relatively) high-stakes game of poker, wherein Nick ends up owing Winston his winnings.
Taking it a few years back to 2006, How I Met Your Mother fans no doubt remember when the show’s cast took a trip to Atlantic City in the eighth episode of the second season. It was then that all five main characters ditch their jobs for the day to head to the New Jersey casino so Marshall and Lily can have a shotgun wedding. Once there, they have an impromptu bachelor party for Marshall and attempt to do some gambling before finding out that it takes three days to get a marriage license in Jersey. They then head to international waters, at Lily’s request, to get married but, once again, things don’t go there way. We won’t spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t watched just yet.
Fast forward to 2008 and gambling plays an even bigger role in an episode in season two of Mad Men. It’s not as if the entire episode (“Six Month Leave”) centers on the activity, but it’s gambling that serves as the impetus for a bigger narrative. If you can recall, Don was staying in the city after his recent split with Betty. On top of that, tertiary character Freddy Rumsen was hitting rock bottom with his alcoholism. And those two elements of the episode collided when Don, Freddy, and Roger decided to “make a night of it” out on the town by going to an illegal gambling club. It’s there that Don sort of opens up about his marriage issues (and even punches a guy) while the show says goodbye to Freddy for quite some time (or as you might have guessed, six months).
Sometimes, gambling and TV shows interact in the complete opposite way, too. According to the website Comic Book, The Walking Dead‘s popularity has grown so widespread that the show is getting its own slot machine. It’s being created and distributed by the Australian company Aristocrat, whose vice president expressed his excited over this move. “We have designed a game that will appeal to the show’s audience which consistently draws a viewership,” Dallas Orchard said. “Clips and images from the show will combine with our proven math models to create an incredible experience.”
What’s next? It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia-themed poker cards? Oh wait, those already exist!