Few gambling games enjoy the surging levels of popularity that poker does. It's no stretch of the imagination to say that poker stands head and shoulders above the competition as the ultimate casino card game. Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Seven Card Stud games continue to reel in players by the truckload, and there appears to be no slowing down of this trend either. The public’s insatiable appetite for poker is fuelled in part by the moviemaking prowess of Hollywood studios, and its A-list actors.
In this expose, you will be introduced to the powerful ways that gambling movies are impacting the popularity of poker games around the world. Our cultural zeitgeist is one which relies heavily on celebrity culture, whether it be Hollywood film studios and their crews, TV personalities, musicians, performers, or superstar athletes on and off the field of play. These larger-than-life elements shape our thoughts and opinions, in more ways than one…
Poker Enjoys Surging Levels of Popularity
Back in the old days, way before poker was as ubiquitous as it is now, a couple of guys started to take the game seriously and popularize it at the highest levels.
Back in the old days, way before poker was as ubiquitous as it is now, a couple of guys started to take the game seriously and popularize it at the highest levels. Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Steve Wynn, Bobby Baldwin, Stu Unger, and Robert Turner have all left an indelible imprint on the game of poker over the years.
These guys are titans of the game, in one form or another. Yet despite their brilliance, ingenuity, and aptitude for the game of poker, it took external forces of incredible magnitude to introduce the game of poker to mainstream audiences the world over. TV, theater, and online streaming are the catalysts in this regard. As of June 2019, a leading stats portal – Statista - published a graphic by Amy Watson. This researcher found that the average movie-going adult in the US frequents a theater to see a movie the following amount of times:
- 14% of people go frequently – 1+ more times per month
- 40% of people go occasionally – less than one time per month
- 46% of people go infrequently – only 1 time per year
Additional statistics compiled by the same stats company revealed the following demographic figures as at February 2019:
Source: Statista Average Number of Movies Watched in Movie Theaters as of Feb 2019
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- 2% of Caucasian people have watched 5+ movies in movie theatres within the last month, along with 4% of Hispanic people, 4% of African-American people, 2% of other people (as of February 2019).
- 48% of Caucasian people, 24% of Hispanic people, 35% of African-Americans, and 32% of other people had not seen any movies within the last month (as of February 2019).
These statistics are revealing in that they reflect just how important movies are in the everyday lives of Americans. Even at low percentages, there is substantial conditioning taking place through audio-visual media. Even more substantial is the amount of time that the average American spends watching movies on cable TV, and via online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Project Free TV, and the like.
The Popularity of Gambling Movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Other Streaming Sites
Sometimes, there is a fine line between the mystique of the ‘Chicago mob/Chicago outfit’ era and Las Vegas, and actual gambling in movies. For the most part, the themes are intertwined, with a much broader tent available to accommodate viewers across the spectrum. Gambling films have had an outsized impact on audiences the world over, spurring tremendous interest in casino games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and even slot machine games.
The game of poker features prominently in the mix of gambling-style films, particularly with protagonists and antagonists whose larger-than-life on-screen personas bring these games to life for countless viewers.
Many stellar Hollywood films have impacted the poker scene, particularly with megastars like Paul Newman, Matt Damon, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey, Albertina, Brad Pitt, Chris Pratt, Richard Dreyfuss, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Spacey, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, George Clooney, Andy Garcia, Jessica Chastain, Mel Gibson, Burt Reynolds, and the like.
As we rattle these celebrity names off, your mind is probably conjuring up some fascinating movie titles. Here they are, along with their gross worldwide box office takings:
- 21 – $159,808,317
- Shade– $459,098
- Casino – $116,112,375
- Maverick - $183,031,272
- Rounders - $22, 912,409
- The Sting - $156,000,000
- Oceans 11 - $450,717,150
- Goodfellas - $46,879,633
- Last Vegas - $134,409,025
- Let It Ride - $4,973,285
- Moneyball - $110,206,216
- Hard Eight - $222,559
- Molly's Game - $59,284,015
- Mississippi Grind – $422,746
- Two for the Money – $30,526,509
- The Cincinnati Kid – No Figures Available
- Leaving Las Vegas – $32,029,928
- Two for the Money – $30,526,509
All In: The Poker Movie is a 1-hour 40 minute documentary that goes on to explain why poker has exploded in popularity in recent years. It presents fascinating insights to viewers on precisely this topic, by going into detail about the Poker Renaissance. It has been deemed a poignant documentary, which details the travails of legendary poker ace – Chris Moneymaker who went on to win the World Series of Poker, after winning an all-expenses paid package through an online poker satellite.
The lesson learned is clear: Gambling movies have an outsized impact on the popularity of poker games – at land-based poker rooms and at online poker rooms too. Today millions of players around the world have taken to poker and the WSOP continues to see huge numbers of entries and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual poker pots. The world has gone all-in with poker and players are scrambling to cash in with their best hands.