Why Poker Scenes in TV Shows are So Exciting

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Some of the world’s most iconic television shows and movies have entire scenes dedicated to poker, which adds excitement to the show. Find out why right here.


Poker is probably the biggest card game out there, and accordingly, it has long been a source of inspiration for all different types of stories, from TV to cinema – and all that comes between.

On many occasions, I have watched my favourite shows and have often come across entire scenes dedicated to poker, which, I must admit, are usually thrilling or tense to watch.

Some of you may have noticed the odd poker scene or two here and there in your favourite shows.

If you’re like me, you may have also wondered why so many writers and directors decide to include poker scenes where the main protagonists play important hands with big pots, particularly when it doesn’t have a direct, super-focussed bearing on the plot itself…

Why poker?

The characters in these memorable scenes are usually depicted playing the same kind of poker variants that can be found at most land-based venues, or online at numerous fully licensed and regulated online casinos and dedicated poker sites.

You can usually find these poker variants by typing in phrases like ‘best online poker sites uk‘ into your preferred search engine.

Many people are already familiar with Texas Hold ’em, the most popular poker variant, which seems to feature in TV shows and movies more times than any other type of poker. However, I have also found scenes where Seven-card Stud and Razz – among many others – are being played.

There’s no denying that poker and its many variants are exciting to play, but the thing about poker is that it’s just as much fun to watch. Since the basic rules are pretty simple, it’s easy to captivate an audience even if they’ve never played a game before themselves, and in certain settings and storylines, it can help elevate the profile of the TV show it features in, which is why it seems to work so well on the big screen.

Watching some of our favourite characters playing high-stakes poker can leave a long-lasting impression, and it sometimes ensures that those TV shows and movies will never be forgotten.

Which famous TV shows have scenes of poker being played?

I decided to embark upon a mission to find out how many of our favourite shows have featured poker being played, but before too long, I gave up because poker has appeared in countless television shows. There are way too many for me to stand here and count.

Instead of listing them all, I’ve decided to list only a handful of the most popular fictional shows that have included one or more poker scenes.

Some of the most memorable television shows ever to feature poker are the following:

Friends: The One With All The Poker. Perhaps that one that most people are more familiar with appeared in an episode that first aired in March 1995. The guys teach the girls how to play five-card poker, and Ross ends up letting Rachel win because of his secret love for her

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Cause and Effect

Deadwood: Here Was a Man

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: It’s Better to Have Loved and Lost It

The Sopranos: multiple episodes

Married with Children: The Poker Game

Two and a Half Men.: It Never Rains in Hooterville

Frasier: You Can’t Tell A Crook by His Cover

Home Improvement: Luck Be a Taylor Tonight

Miami Vice: One-Eyed Jack

These are just some of the most iconic television shows to have featured scenes where the main characters are playing poker. There are many others, some of which you may have already seen. Some people have even taken the time to upload one or more of these memorable scenes to YouTube.

Honourable mentions

I have also found various other poker scenes in shows like Sex and the City, and The X Files.

That’s not forgetting The Young Ones, House M.D., It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Desperate Housewives, Numb3rs, Law & Order, Family Guy, My Family, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, and Red Dwarf, to name a few.

Final thoughts

Several major television and movie studios across the globe have found a way to include poker; call it a cliche or a trope, or call it a great departure from static dialogue in long scenes – whatever it’s there for, it’s clearly doing its job well.

Poker being played can also influence how we interact with the scene, and it can leave a lasting impression on us.

I’m fairly confident that poker will continue to be used in many other future TV shows since I have also noticed poker in countless blockbuster movies, not just on television.