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4 of the Best TV Shows About Gambling

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Entertainment about gambling is nothing new. Combining the thrills and chance of a sports game with the higher stakes of cash prizes makes an excellent recipe for good fiction. Plus, it means that viewers can tap into the excitement and glamour of the casino (or, for that matter, learn how to play cards) without having to leave the house themselves.

However, while it’s easy to list films about gambling off the top of one’s head, such as the Bond series, to name an obvious example, many television series about these high-stakes games of chance have ended up being far more obscure. This, though, is not a reflection of their lack of quality and, to prove it, here are some of the best TV series ever made about gambling.

Big Deal

Proving the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on gambling, this London-based drama from the 80s nevertheless strikes a very different note from the glitz and glamour of your average Vegas-based American drama. Comprising only three series and 30 episodes, Big Deal gives its viewers an honest look into the somewhat dingy day-to-day of professional gambling. Rather than traipsing around red-brick casinos, the show’s protagonist, Robby Box, spends most of his time in South London estates and vacant lots in Camden. Those interested in the gambling industry and its trends will be intrigued by the contrast between the furtive card games played in these inauspicious locales and the digital, transnational lotteries, such as those offered by lotto.net, utilised by modern-day gamblers. Whereas before lottery players had to queue to get a paper ticket, nowadays the internet has made it easy to choose numbers online for Mega Millions, US Powerball or even the Brazilian Mega Sena from the comfort of one’s sofa, at any time of the day or night.

Las Vegas

Perhaps the most self-evident choice for a gambling series is one located in the spiritual home of all things gambling: Las Vegas. While many have tried and failed to capture the magic of this unique desert city, Gary Scott Thompson’s TV series of the same name, which ran for five years in the early 2000s, was perhaps the best attempt. This has a lot to do with the show’s star, James Caan, who plays a casino boss and former CIA agent and is better known for appearing in the first two Godfather movies.

 

Luck

A far newer offering, dating from 2011, and one tragically cut short when it was cancelled during its second season, David Mitch’s Luck is a show based around horse racing and those who bet on it. The show was commended for getting so many details of the racing world exactly right and for its excellent cast. However, while the excitement and risk of horse racing makes it an excellent subject for a series, it also makes it a dangerous one to film. Luck was forced to an impromptu end because a number of horses were accidentally killed during filming. If you’re content with an excellent story cut short, though, then you’re in luck.

 

The Casino

If you want a taste of the nitty-gritty instead, consider 2004 American reality TV series The Casino, which was broadcast originally on Fox. Created by Mark Burnett, better known for Survivor, this show was a dismal flop in terms of ratings at the time but remains an interesting look into the minutiae of running an actual casino. It follows two millionaires, Thomas Breitling and Tim Poster, who manage the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas.

Watching one or all of these shows may not make you a master gambler yourself, although you might pick up a few tricks here and there, but you’ll at the very least have good odds on being entertained!

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