In TV shows across the years, continents, and even star systems, there’s nothing to bring characters together like an activity where the atmosphere is relaxed but the stakes are high.
Which is probably why poker’s such a popular game for our favourite fictional characters to play, as they attempt the slang and lingo of the high roller over the click of chips being stacked and the soft murmur of cards being shuffled.
Here we look at 5 of the best TV shows to embrace the fun and vocabulary of a great night of poker…
‘I think I’ve got a pretty good hand…’ thinks Mark as he looks at his cards, ‘But there’s always the chance someone else might have a better one…’
Well, yes, that’s the whole point of poker Mark. Meanwhile Jeremy thinks he’s a real high roller because he’s got ‘all the reds’ and is ready to ‘roll out the big potatoes’. Not quite how the regular casino winners talk, but you’ve got to admire his confidence, especially as his bluffing proves too rich for everyone else’s blood.
‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight!’ he declares and scoops up the chips. Again, not your traditional casino parlance, but appreciate the enthusiasm Jez.
Despite the fact that money was obsolete by the 24th century, the senior crew of the Enterprise regularly got together to relax and enjoy a few games of Earth poker after a hard day’s exploration.
Thanks to the Holodeck, Data even had chance to play with science’s greatest minds, and watch as Isaac Newton went down to the felt and Albert Einstein lost his chips to Stephen Hawking’s bluff. It wasn’t until the final episode of The Next Generation, ‘All’s Well That Ends Well…’, that Captain Picard decided to ‘make it so!’ and enjoy a game with them for the first time.
We’ll never know if he was dealt a better hand than Number One or Mr Worf…
The housewives of Wisteria Lane love a game of cards, with Susan especially being lucky.
In the Season 7 episode ‘Moments in the Woods’ she manages to turn a $100 chip into $12,000 thanks to a winning streak at the poker table. In the final episode of the show, before Susan leaves Wisteria Lane for good, she and her three best friends spend time ‘doing what they loved best’: playing poker.
It’s also where we find out Gabrielle’s tell. Hint: don’t have a wine glass near you if you’re bluffing.
Not enough shows featuring poker remind you to check your flies, but it’s a good tip.
Last thing you want is a full hand and an open barn door, like Ross does as the Friends go from coffee house to ‘coffee housing’ (misleading other players about the strength of your hand), and the girls play poker against the boys.
As Rachael ups the ante Ross comes up a little short. ‘Joey, I’m a little shy…’ he says. ‘That’s okay Ross,’ he replies ‘you can ask me!’ Oh Joey…not like that.
How I Met Your Mother
Barney Stinson may be better at wearing a suit and wooing the ladies than any of his peers, but it turns out that thanks to ‘The Stinson Bluff’, when it comes to poker his chips are down.
He’s always letting you know when he’s bluffing by actually saying the word ‘bluff’. ‘I could use a bluff-berry muffin,’ he blurts, ‘Sorry, muffberry bluffmuff. All in!’.
He’s your ideal opponent, unlike Ted, who tends to get pretentious when laying down the cards: ‘Call me Akira Yoshizawa! World’s most famous origamist? I fold.’ For crying out- Just say fold like a normal player, Ted!