Online gambling is bigger than ever. At an estimated $66.5 billion global revenue by 2020, the industry is doing well for itself appealing to a mobile audience during a time when app games are everywhere. But it wasn’t always like this. Gambling used to be smoky rooms filled with tenacious competitors all looking for the same thing: the big score and their hunt to get it. Whether it was poker, roulette, slots, baccarat or sports betting, there was always sure to be a thrill ride located at your local casino with the promise at a chance to win it all. However, the internet and mobile phones came along and changed it all.
And it hasn’t been the same since. So, we’re here to talk about some of the most memorable moments of gambling across pop culture.
This one starts off with a legend and his material being used in an online casino. Guts has a five-reel Jimi Hendrix online slot game (yes, you read that correctly), with “Foxy Lady” playing in the background and an animated Hendrix jamming out on the guitar. It’s one of the more bizarre picks on this list. But if you’re a huge fan, the game is complete with a very Woodstock-esque layout using soft colors and hippie imagery to really drive home the laid back nature of the musician and his music.
Moving on, we look at the Kenny Rogers classic, The Gambler, that talks about knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, lyrics talking not just about poker, but life itself. This is one of those bar songs with popularity rivaling Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me or Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. It’s the kind of song that if you start singing at a party you can be sure a room full of people will be joining you for the chorus. And it’s a song that you can be sure you’ll hear at your local casino; that is, if you have one.
Matt Damon and John Malkovich star in Rounders and square off in this poker-inspired flick about a college kid torn between chasing his dreams of playing in the World Series of Poker and playing it safe by studying in law school. While the big games don’t take place in the casino but rather a seedy poker den, the spirit of the casino and high-stakes gambling fills the movie with a tense thrill that only poker movies seem to be able to achieve.
Rainman might seem like a bit of an odd ball on the list but we’ll never forget the bond Charlie and Raymond make in the Las Vegas casino as Dustin Hoffman’s character counts cards to the tune of ten of thousands of dollars. Although the movie focuses more on the brothers’ relationship, it wasn’t until the two spent time wheeling and dealing in Sin City that the bond was truly cemented. Who would have thought that such a bond was made at a poker table of all places? If you haven’t seen this one, be prepared for all of the feels.
There is a couple of casino games that stand out, in the form of Poker Night and its sequel. In the game you take control of icons Tycho from the Penny Arcade comics, Max from Sam & Max, the Heavy from Team Fortress and Strong Bad from the web series Homestar Runner.
The sequel then allows us to play as another four highly recognizable characters that come from video games, television series and movies. While the gameplay isn’t the most groundbreaking addition to video games, as the player just controls their avatar through hands of Texas hold ’em, the atmosphere created and the playful banter makes you feel like you’re really sitting down at a poker table with a couple of old buddies. This game masterfully creates the spirit of poker.
Those are our picks for best casino crossovers but what are your favorites? Bonus points if you’re able to come up with two more video games as those ones are as rare as they come. Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.