Top 5 Betting Scenes in TV Shows
Whether you participate in betting or not, you cannot deny that there is something quite captivating about watching other people take risks and seek fame and fortune. Cult movies such as “Casino” are synonymous with gambling entertainment on the big screen. But, we are interested in best TV gambling moments we can watch from the comfort of our homes.
The good news is that classics like ‘Simpsons’, ‘South Park’, and ‘Friends’ covered betting in detail. They used it either as a plot device or as a tool for adding that extra bit of flavour to the episodes. There are also some less popular shows that explored the theme from different angles and they deserve a spot on the list. So, brace yourself, this is small screen betting at its finest.
“Arnold Rothstein Giving Advice to Nucky” – Boardwalk Empire
The Boardwalk Empire is littered with incredible gambling and poker scenes. One that stands out involves Arnold Rothstein, a gambler-kingpin known as “The Brain”. He gives a piece of advice to the protagonist Nucky Thomson (played by Steve Buscemi) and what great strategic tip it is: “When you have no move Mr. Thomson, you do nothing”. He points out to the fact that sometimes weeks pass without him making a bet.
After a short pause, he adds an exclamation mark: “I wait, I plan, and I marshal my resources. And when I finally see an opportunity and there is a bet to make, I bet it all”. This wisdom did not help Nucky that much in the end, but maybe you can adhere to it and make something happen in life. There are also a couple of other great scenes with Arnold you might want to check out. I like how Michael Stuhlbarg, at the time not a Hollywood A-lister, steals every moment he appears on the screen.
“We Can Save the Town” – South Park
This is a less serious entry to the list, but it is an amazing one nevertheless. We all know that South Park never pulled any punches and gambling was addressed with a standard mixture of sharp critique, political controversy, and smart satire. Namely, in the episode called “Red Man’s Greed”, which was broadcasted back in 2003, a group of rich and powerful Native American casino owners purchase a town and wants to build a highway. In the wake of this event, all hell breaks loose.
The citizens are forced to move off their land and so they rally up in an attempt to preserve their way of living. They manage to gather $300,000 and as a last resort, they decide to invest in all in roulette play. The main characters then watch in disbelief as grown-ups lose every cent of it, in a rather unglamorous manner too. This scene goes to show the depths of desperation and great lengths to which people go when pushed to the limit. I see it as a warning sign wrapped in a parody on the Indian Removal Act.
“Professor Blackjack meets his mobster ally” – Breaking Vegas
Widely lauded as one of the best gambling TV shows ever, Breaking Vegas (History Channel) is a special treat. The documentary examined the underbelly side of it, exposing scams, card marking, sleight of hand, and other tricks. It also shed light on the lesser-known part of casino thriving history in the 0. Impressive archival footage is found in all episodes, but “Professor Blackjack” is on our list because it portrays a legendary real-life figure Ed Thorpe, played by Jonathan Dickson.
This MIT professor is also known as the godfather of card counting. He developed a computer-based card-counting scheme (Kelly Criterion) that would be later applied in casinos. The aforementioned episode shows a pivotal moment in which mobster Manny Kimmel shakes Ed’s hand for the first time and goes on to strikes a deal with him. Many would agree that this peculiar relationship between a criminal (who provided funding for the project) and a professor changed the casino industry for good.
“Poker in Disguise” – Black Books
A cult TV show is full of moments we are never going to forget. “A Little Flutter” episode depicts our hero Bernard Black caught in a treacherous new situation. He scores a few wins on The Grand National, the biggest horse race in the UK. Already imagining untold riches, he becomes addicted to betting and in order to fuel his gambling endeavours, he forces Manny and Fran to compete for a job at the shop. Of course, things start going downhill and Bernard pours a lot of money down the drain.
My favourite scene has to be the one with “high-stakes” poker, which is so adorably over the top and outlandish. Players are sporting gangster-style attire, there is whiskey lying around, and jazz music is playing in the background. Bernard loses to Fran and she explains how her grandparents gave her insights into games with cards. She also displays some tricks including deck rigging. This episode certainly left a mark on us, but also on gambling — you can find some Black Books themed games via some of the best UK casino websites over on bestcasinosites.net.
“Derren Brown has a Proposal for Khadisha”— Derren Brown: The System
This reality TV special was shown on Channel 4 in 2008 and it is a must-see. The episode lays out Darren Brown’s bold plan of deception and its execution. He first creates a system for accurately predicting the winners of horse races. Then, he manages to persuade Khadisha, a randomly picked member of the public, that he has a foolproof formula for beating the bookies. Following the set scheme, she starts using her savings to place increasingly large bets.
Things start going really well for her and she enters a thrilling winning streak. She is convinced that everything is rolling out as planned. But, Derren has not told her everything and there is a twist. At a crucial moment, Khadisha decides to go all in and loses her money. In the aftermath of this shocking turn of events, the whole pyramidal scheme is exposed. This part of the episode is not as entertaining, but it is particularly informative. Also, there are a few mysteries that Derren chose not to disclose and they still remain a hot talking point.
Occasional writer and fan of video games and scifi TV shows!