How Poker Is Referenced Throughout Popular Culture?

Poker’s place in our day-to-day culture is well-supported by its inclusion in typically ‘non-poker’ contexts in TV shows, films, books and music. One of the most notable ways that this has been achieved is through the many poker-themed songs that have been released over the years.

As fans of poker, we are always pleased to see our favourite game referenced in popular culture. Did you know that there are certain theories that posit that listening to music will make you a better poker player? Whether you favour punk or rock, or like cheesy pop classics, music can get your adrenaline going, increase motivation and create a rhythm of play.

We often wonder what kind of music these players are listening to, as so many songs seem to be referenced in popular culture — for example, O.A.R’s ‘That was a crazy game of poker’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’. And who doesn’t love the classic rock anthem from Motorhead, ‘Ace of Spades’?

You could also include Ray Charles ‘Losing Hand’ and AC/DC’s (She’s got) the Jack’. Lady Gaga’s hit ‘Poker Face’ also has to be mentioned; the lyrics, coupled with its quick harmony and tempo, make it an ideal tune for poker players to listen to. Pro players like Robert Williamson and Phil Gordon play different genres of music when playing poker. Essentially, by choosing different songs and different genres of music, the players are choosing tunes that suit their mood at the time. Having the mental discipline to stay focused is a much-required skill in poker, and the pros can achieve this with the help of music.

Poker is also referenced in TV shows. Do you remember that episode of Friends ‘The One With All The Poker’ when the girls take on the guys? Another TV show that focuses on poker is Tilt, an American drama TV series that is set against the backdrop of the World Championship poker tournaments in Las Vegas. The tagline for the show is ‘You’re playing poker. They’re playing you’.

On the silver screen, there have been countless films that reference poker. One example is ‘Rounders’, a 1998 American film about the underground world of high-stakes poker that features Edward Norton and Matt Damon. The term ‘rounder’ refers to a poker player who travels from city to city seeking out high-stakes cash games.

Another well-loved poker film starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore is about a poker player who is trying to win a poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Whether watching these films and TV shows make you laugh, cry or even give you food for thought, it’s clear that these scenes featuring poker might give you a helping hand.

From music and TV to films and books, the world of poker is continuously referenced throughout popular culture. These mediums redefine the game for new generations of fans and demonstrate that poker is not just defined by the table, absolutely resonates with a wider audience other than just poker players, and has earned its place in popular culture.


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