Cinema and television aren’t short on their depictions of casino life. James Bond has a monopoly on looking good and winning big with a martini in hand, while series like Boardwalk Empire offer a grittier look at the underbelly of Atlantic City.
From glitz and glamour to the unpredictable maneuverings of business tycoons in Vegas and Atlantic City, the casino has a special place in the American psyche. One major reason casino and card game scenes have featured so memorably in beloved TV shows is the appeal of a gaming night.
In the US, gaming is associated with a big trip to a brick-and-mortar casino with a large, opulent floor and well-dressed players. Despite the fact that most major brands are moving online to expand their casino bonuses and offers for virtual gamers, episodes of prime time TV that feature trips to brick-and-mortar establishments are likely to stay—no matter how unrealistic or playful they are.
The Office, ‘Casino Night’
Juxtaposed against the hapless characters of The Office, the season two finale delivered on high stakes emotional encounters. Fans remember this episode for the brief, romantic moment shared between the main characters Pam and Jim.
However, it’s the office’s casual casino night that provides the perfect backdrop for the romantic drama happening. A round of Texas Hold’em poker reveals that Pam can actually bluff, which isn’t a comment on poker as much as it is on her ability to be engaged to one man while in love with another.
While the audience may hold their breath watching Pam and Jim, Kevin Malone provides ample comedic relief as he saunters around the casino floor and brags about his poker winnings before losing it all in a single hand.
Sex and the City, ‘Luck Be an Old Lady’
This episode of Sex and the City sees the New York fashionistas head to Atlantic City for an exclusive stay on the boardwalk. As a gift from Samantha’s paramour, Richard, the girls don’t spare any expense as they enjoy their weekend stay.
The backdrop of the episode takes place at the Taj Mahal, which provides equal portions of extravagance and the world of casual gaming. An incident at the craps table provides the perfect opportunity for Samantha, Miranda, Carrie, and Charlotte to band together and rally the crowd in their favor.
However, the real treat may be the luxurious penthouse provided for Richard at the Taj Mahal, as well as the VIP treatment he and all the girls receive. This is the Atlantic City trip all friends dream of.
Friends, ‘The One In Vegas’
While Carrie and company in Sex and the City traveled to Atlantic City, ‘The One In Vegas’ covers the gaggle of New York friends as they travel west to Las Vegas. The trip chronicles some of the stereotypes surrounding the City of Lights.
The episode focuses largely on the last-minute weddings that Vegas chapels cater to. The original wedding between Monica and Chandler, a long-time couple, is dwarfed by the sudden appearance of Ross and Rachel, whose back-and-forth romance never skimps on drama.
If ‘Luck Be an Old Lady’ highlighted the finer aspects of the infamous casino, then ‘The One In Vegas’ reveals all the stereotypes that are tacked on to gaming culture—shotgun weddings in Vegas included.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, ‘The Shrimp Incident’
Known for its cringe-worthy moments in which the main character Larry stumbles through life with witty abrasiveness, ‘The Shrimp Incident’ doesn’t skip a beat. As Larry and a group of friends attempt to reel in an HBO executive for a new TV show, they play a game of two-card guts.
‘The Shrimp Incident’ offers one of the most no-holds-barred views at Larry in his show. Luckily, his temper is eased by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who plays herself) as she sweeps two-card guts and takes away the $800 pool.
Though some may cringe at Larry’s behavior or revel in the fact that Louis-Dreyfus took the pot home, the emotionally charged setting of even a casual game of two-card guts can’t be missed. This episode may take place far away from a casino floor, but it also showcases another American staple: taking the casino to a kitchen table and making no effort to emotionally detach from the game.