The genre of gambling-focused shows has been around for a while now, ever since the early 40s when the first American film was released, depicting the harsh conditions in a notorious gambling den. The last decade or so can be considered a Golden Era for gambling movies, whether we’re talking about blockbusters like Rounders and Ocean’s Eleven series, Bollywood casino flicks or TV shows like Luck and Shameless – thanks to an increased interest in both online and offline gambling as well as the rise of streaming platforms bringing movies to our fingertips. To compile this list of top 5 TV shows about gambling we took into consideration several factors: plot’s ambiguity towards gambling, creators’ intents (whether they’ve kept away from moralizing or encouraged it) and technical side of things. Finally, we tied it all together with entertainment value and came up with the below list of best gambling TV shows, enjoy!
Big Deal (1984):
Big Deal is a comedy classic about the life of a small-time London gambler named Robbie Box (played by Jay Brooks). Despite being pretty sorted out in life, Robbie has one fatal flaw—he has a gambling addiction. Watch this charming, yet dark comedy about his life as he goes from riches to rags and back again while he tries to pull off a balancing act between his relationship and his tendency to gamble his fortune away. His story will have your eyes glued to your screen as it explores the highs and lows of poker addiction. The show is a fascinating look at the dichotomy between gambling and families, allowing us to laugh with the characters as well as cry, and Jay Brooks does an excellent job in portraying the character. Big Deal is one of those gambling shows that you just can’t miss, the only trouble will be to find the right streaming service for it.
The Casino (2004):
Suit up for a wild ride behind-the-scenes of The Golden Nugget Casino, as owners Tom Breitling and Tim Poster attempt to restore the Vegas establishment’s lost mojo. The cameras of The Casino follow longtime friends Tim & Tom who recently sold their dotcom to Expedia, netting them millions of dollars and a new opportunity to restore Golden Nugget to its one-time Mafia glory of the ‘60s Rat Pack era. The stakes are high as they wager millions of dollars in their quest to bring back the glory days. From bull riding in the casino to roller coaster battles, this is one gamble the boys are willing to take! An unscripted series that promises big drama and real-life stakes—featuring you-are-there 24/7 surveillance of owners and staff—this show is created by Mark Burnett, the mind behind Survivor. If you ever dreamt about running a high-stake casino for a living (who hasn’t?), this is your show!
Poker After Dark (2007):
You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. No bad beats, no blinds, and casino winners & losers galore as the world’s most feared high stake poker players go all in from the PokerGo Studio at the ARIS Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The Poker After Dark format features a table of six poker players and a prize pool that grows steadily throughout the week. The series originally focused on professional players; however, the producers changed formats to include amateur players playing against pros. Like a front-row seat or a microphone at a comedy show, the close-up camera angles of the show capture the often hilarious ins and outs of Texas Hold ‘Em. The host keeps his commentary to a minimum, so viewers can focus on hearing the chatter among six well-known players as they take turns being “dealer”. Tune in at pokergo.com and get a glimpse of the high-stakes action that takes place when some of the world’s best poker pros go head to head for a shot at victory and a piece of the $120,000 pot.
King Of Vegas (2006):
The best players in their favored games compete against ‘wannabe’ wannabes who must scrap and scratch their way along hoping to earn enough playing money to continue in the King of Vegas competition. It’s a gladiatorial battle between professionals and non-pros competing for $1 million in the world of high-stakes gambling. All wannabes begin with a bankroll of $10,000 but can add considerably to that by taking on various “Side Bets” and “Beat the Pro” challenges scattered throughout the series. The hosts are Max Kellerman (best known for his work on ESPN and HBO) who plays off Las Vegas guy Wayne Allyn Root and the two provide commentary which occasionally enhances the show. But mostly their banter distracts from what is just another game show (albeit with a large cash prize) telling us about how great Las Vegas is and how anyone who comes there can have good times if they play their cards right (pun intended).
Liar Game (2014):
Some of us tell the truth some of the time; some of us, almost all of the time. Others, though, well, they prefer to keep their lies light and harmless. For those with a penchant for the big ones—those lies have huge consequences and that’s what makes Liar Game (think Survivor meets The Hunger Games) so much fun to watch. Nam Da-jung is a college student who desperately wants to pay off her debt so she joins Liar Game, a psychological survival game where lying and trickery is the name of the game. The prize? 10 billion won (about $10 million). In this thrilling Korean drama, Da-jung must lie, trick, and outsmart her opponents to win that jackpot but quickly learns that the lies she tells may have unintended consequences in her real life. Based on a popular Japanese manga, you won’t want to miss this astonishing South Korean production!
You know those weekend days when you have no plans and an evening to yourself? You can’t go wrong with any of these picks and odds are you’ll be hooked by the first episode. Just in case that doesn’t happen, or you’re looking for something shorter and easily accessible, you may want to check out our list of best gambling movies on Netflix.