Poker beyond the cards — everything you need to know about poker’s cultural influence



Few things have filled up our culture as much as poker in the entertainment and leisure space. It has widespread recognition, and everyone across the globe has either heard of poker or even played it. Starting as a simple card game called “Poque” in the 1800s, this world-renowned game now makes up the majority of online casino rosters. Did you know that you can even go on a poker cruise these days?

You don’t have to be living in the Western world to see poker taking over a lot of the spaces in the entertainment sector. From novels to art, books, and even movies — there are numerous times in which poker has been the focal point of stories. This alone makes up a huge part of our society and proves that poker has truly had a cultural influence on almost everything in our lives.

We will be taking you on a journey down all things poker, and looking into the truth about how it affects our cultures. Just as the game captivates us while we play, it does so to everything it touches. Decks at the ready: let’s see what’s been inspired by the trusty old card game that we all know and love.

1.   Poker in the pages 

If you didn’t know, poker makes up a huge part of historical literature. This is for those who love to read classic novels about the traditions of betting and casinos, rather than for those who prefer the likes of video poker or more technologically advanced versions – but it’s still fascinating. Literature and poker have frequently formed together to create some of the greatest works in history — that feed into the art space with quirky colloquialisms and phrases.

One of the greatest novels in history is a classic by Mark Twain called “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” This piece of work symbolizes poker for all that it’s worth (even though it is about other kinds of betting). There’s gambling, humor, and plausibility, with the underdogs coming out winning.

This, in a sense, is what poker is all about. It involves immense luck and brilliant skill, but at the end of the day — it can see anybody coming out on top, which is why Mark Twain’s novel sums up this completely.

Then we move on to more modern literature, which is about poker more directly. Michael Lewis wrote a book called “Liar’s Poker” — which is a cult classic book that reflects on poker and the high-stakes world of working on Wall Street. You learn about bluffing, risk-taking, and the wit needed to navigate through the finance and poker space.

Unlike film, literature has to touch upon poker with grace and thorough explanations to ensure the reader can grasp what they are saying. These two pieces in history managed to intertwine the concepts of the great game with real-life scenarios. They’re true classics and have helped shape today’s culture.

2. Poker in film

You don’t have to be clued up on the ins and outs of poker to know that this game hit Hollywood with a storm. From Maverick in 1994 to a new-money world of Molly’s Game in 2017, poker has inundated the silver screen, and we’ve seen some brilliant depictions of the game. High-stakes dramas have filled our screens and both TV and movies show the complexities of the casino with great enthusiasm.

The original TV show that depicted the game in the truest light there was? “Poker After Dark — which was an hour-long episode every week, where viewers watched teams fight to the end to win their poker tournaments. Compared to today, there are plenty of shows in abundance, but we owe it all to these 2007 hits, which brought poker into the living rooms of Americans everywhere.

3. Poker in music

It didn’t take long for poker to make waves in music, seeing rap and RnB explore all kinds of cultural influences. Kenny Rogers created “The Gambler,” which was a song exploring poker, where he talks about when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em — this was a looking glass into the eyes of the singers and what they tend to do in their spare time.

One of the most famous Lady Gaga songs out there, Poker Face, was created with no reference to the game of poker whatsoever — but it shows the influence that poker has had on society, because we ultimately link the two together. And take the phrase “poker face” for another example — nobody had actually named a specific face reaction before, but we all know exactly what it means. This, in a sense, is the true definition of how massively poker has impacted our lives. Through film, music, TV, and more — if this phrase is mentioned, or words relating to a game are spoken, we can put two and two together. That’s just how well-known this simple game of “Poque” really is in today’s culture. It inspires, it influences, and it will leave a mark on everything that it touches — poker is just unbeatable in the entertainment industry, and we can’t get enough.

Joe Scales

Joe Scales