Several Times Gambling Crept into '80s Television

The ‘80s were a golden age for TV, to say the least. We had the wackiest sci-fi shows, most dramatic family dramas, and funniest sitcoms. In fact, it was a time where topics not covered extensively were finally brought to light— and with big hair, bold colors, and iconic TV scenes. One of these topics was casino gaming. In an era where everything is made fun, loud, and exciting, casino games were now a good fit for the small screen. Here are some of the most memorable TV casino scenes from the 80’s

The Jeffersons: "In the Chips"

A smash hit by Norman Lear, The Jeffersons follows the story of the eponymous family who are suddenly shot into the world of New York’s upper crust. In the "In the Chips" episode, Jimmy arrives at the Jeffersons’ high-rise with a bag full of casino chips, complete with a wild story of how he got them. He claims that he won them at a bingo fundraiser at church.

George Jefferson then discovers that the chips aren’t Jimmy’s, and that a collector is tailing him to retrieve the chips in question. The clincher is that Jimmy registered in the bingo game under George’s name, leading the collector and his angry men right into the Jeffersons’ apartment. But as this was an ‘80s show, you should know that all’s well that ends well. It was all good fun, and the chips were taken care of by the end of the episode, to say the least.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Riker’s Bluff

Five of the USS Enterprise-D’s senior staff sit around a table to enjoy a game of poker in an early Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called "The Measure of A Man." It is Commander Data’s first game and he learns a vital element of the game: the bluff. Riker has everyone at the table believing that he has a flush in his hand. From this poker hands ranking chart, you can see that a flush is one of the best combinations, with a regular flush being the fifth strongest hand, and a royal flush and a straight flush the first and second strongest respectively. But after Data and Riker have an exchange about Riker’s “poker face,” it’s revealed that it was indeed a bluff. This was one of the first games of poker to ever be played on the show and would begin a string of other poker games to be featured over its run The most notable game though was in the final episode of the entire show where Captain Picard finally joins in.

Big Deal: Everyday Gambling

This London-based drama strikes an interesting point of comparison from the glitzy casino glamor of Vegas-based American shows. Big Deal follows the story of serial gambler protagonist, Robbie Box. A review of the show points out how the opening theme song describes Box perfectly as one of those gamblers who thinks he’s clever, but he’s always just waiting on that one big deal.

Instead of taking audiences through luxurious velvet-lined casino lounges, Big Deal gives a raw and sometimes gritty view of what it’s like to be a full-time gambler. Instead, Box spends most of his time traipsing around South London estates and vacant lots in 1980’s Camden. This show is a must-watch for those who are interested in the gambling culture of the UK and how furtively played these games used to be.

Even if these shows come straight from the ‘80s, they should be essential watches for anyone interested in casino gaming.

Headline image via YouTube screencap

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