As we all know, poker is an intense card game fusing both skill and luck at the tables. Some poker pros would probably liken it to psychological warfare; breaking down their opponent’s thoughts and decisions to stay one step ahead. It’s not always that serious though. In fact, some of our favorite movies and television sitcoms have proved that poker is as entertaining as it is challenging.
If you’re a sucker for a comedy just as much as the World Series of Poker, make sure you check out this quartet of scenes that demonstrate just how poker can bring out the best in people — in more ways than one!
“The Scofflaw,” Seinfeld (1995) – The cast of Seinfeld contains one of the most passionate celebrity poker players, Jason Alexander, who plays the role of George Costanza and features heavily in this season six scene. Although the scene doesn’t take place at a poker table, it’s all about who’s got the worst poker face. Seinfeld admits to George that he couldn’t bring himself to let him know that their friend, Gary Fogel had cancer, saying he had “no poker face” and couldn’t keep secrets. Shocked by Gary’s diagnosis, George meets up with him and Gary confesses he has been living a lie and never had cancer. Gary makes George promise not to let the cat out of the bag to Seinfeld, who’d think bad of him. George returns to Seinfeld’s apartment to test his own poker face, but it’s all too easy for Seinfeld to read and suspect that something was up. George turned over his “full house” to break the shocking news to Seinfeld!
“The One with all the Poker,” Friends (1995) – Are you a Friends addict? If so, what better way to test your knowledge of the sitcom than to see if you remember this season one scene, going all the way back to 1995. These six characters seem almost inseparable overall — until they decided to play a battle-of-the-sexes game of poker after hours at the Central Perk coffee shop. Ross and Joey had been discussing a previous game of poker that saw Joey lose a lot of money. The girls ask why guys are only invited to these poker nights and the boys insist it’s because they don’t know enough girls to invite. Rachel asks the guys to teach them how to play and despite their protests, they accept. Little did they know that the girls could show them a thing or two at winning!
Mike McDermott’s heads-up rematch with Teddy KGB, Rounders (1998) – Let’s set the scene: Mike McDermott is a law student who just so happens to be a great poker player outside of study hours. He has a dream to play at the World Series of Poker and honed his skills regularly at an underground poker club, managed by Russian mobster Teddy KGB. Mike loses his poker bankroll in one night in a heads-up game with Teddy KGB and vows to give up poker. However, his burning desire to play sees him return to play and win enough money to pay off the debts of his close friend Worm. His decision to return to poker costs him his relationship with his girlfriend, but Mike is more focused on taking down Teddy KGB and regaining his bankroll. At their second heads-up game, Mike realizes he’s spotted a tell that lets him know Teddy doesn’t have the winning hand. The winning hand is so funny because Teddy KGB thinks Mike is bluffing and Mike knows that Teddy KGB has nothing! Mike lets Teddy bet on every street before revealing his winning straight. He then takes off to Vegas with his regained bankroll to take on the desert strip’s poker rooms.
“The Shrimp Incident,” Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001) – Just when you thought sitcoms couldn’t make poker home games look any more fun, along comes Curb Your Enthusiasm. A group of the cast is sat around the poker table when Larry David’s lack of social skills come to the fore once again. Julia is in control of this hand when Larry begs someone to “go in” and call her bet. Flummoxed by Larry’s insistence, everyone folds despite someone holding an ace. The air turns somewhat blue at this stage as the other players show their frustrations at loose-lipped Larry for ruining the game!
If you’ve still not had your fill of poker-themed hilarity, make sure you check out A Big Hand for the Little Lady. This 1966 western classic sees a merchant banker play a practical joke on a group of aristocrats who previously conned him out of a sizeable sum in a real estate deal. Keep your eyes peeled for the huge plot twist!