Television and film have often used the setting of a card game to deliver important plot developments or tension.
In film, Casino Royale has a tense poker scene in which James Bond meets the villainous Le Chiffre, but such scenes are not the only way a poker game can be used.
Sometimes, sitcoms use the bluffing, misdirection and atmosphere to create great laughs to good effect. So, we’ve picked five poker scenes from sitcoms that will live long in the memory.
Only Fools and Horses
One of the earliest uses of poker in a sitcom, this classic scene from the cult English show featuring a card game between Del Boy and flash car salesman Boycie never fails to draw a smile.
Such is the legacy of lovable rogue Del Boy, played by David Jason, that the Londonist revealed a petition has been launched to erect a golden statue of him outside the flats that doubled as his home, Nelson Mandela House.
Whilst perhaps not the sort of humor one would always find acceptable today, Friends perfectly encapsulated the feel of early nineties culture, dealing with serious storylines in an often emotional and touching way.
The relationship between Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey and Phoebe became as important to a legion of viewers as any television had produced before.
One episode, in which they all play poker, gave the writers a great vehicle to show the social dynamics in the group. Poker is great for social bonding and has been used to that effect not only in TV, but also by current online poker games. USA Today’s feature on PPPoker reveals how players can take advantage of technology to create private social clubs to play with their friends. Sadly, you can’t swap cards and call those who bluff liars, just like the girls from Friends did.
The Simpsons paved the way for a host of cartoons aimed at the adult market, with the hapless Homer almost always the butt of jokes and mishaps.
During a poker game at Moe’s Bar he manages to lose everything he has by showing terrible poker acumen. There’s no bluffing from our favorite American institution as he goes all in without a moment’s hesitation.
He might have taken the time to watch the first season of The Dangerous Book for Boys, which included a handy tutorial that could certainly have helped stem his losses.
The British series that launched Craig Charles’ career featured a poker scene in one episode, where the crew are playing their own version of strip poker. Of course, for an early-evening show there was no actual nudity, although mechanoid Kryten did bet a head and a hand.
The scene ended before a hand could be won or lost; computer Holly announced they had to abandon ship due to a huge threat to their life.
Red Dwarf has run for several series, starting in the early nineties. The Metro reports that there will be a new series, the fourteenth, in 2019. Danny John-Jules, Charles, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn are all set to reprise their roles.
The poker scene in London-based Peep Show uses the character’s complete lack of understanding to comic effect. It plays on the stereotypes of poker being a man’s game too, something Poker News claims upcoming documentary Poker Queens is looking to dispel.
Still, it does use the typical images of poker to good effect. Mark, the hapless loser of the show, folds with four kings because ‘someone might have a better hand’, whilst Jez, the bold character, goes all in because he has ‘all red cards’, winning the hand.