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Playing cards in comedy

Started by Fambo Number Mive, November 22, 2021, 01:45:41 PM

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Purple Toupee

'Cairds' is one of the classic episodes of Still Game, it's based around a set up at a card game to win back a mobility scooter.

https://youtu.be/S2VD3lDswuc

30 Rock has an episode where Tracy is terrible at poker but charming simpleton Kenneth the Page turns out to be very good. I'm sure it's not the only sitcom to have this plot.

Young Sheldon played poker with his grandmother, although I don't remember any jokes. Big Bang Theory had every game except conventional playing cards as far as I remember (does Magic: The Gathering count?).

Not technically a comedy but it was a comic scene, in Buffy the demons played poker for live kittens.

Noodle Lizard

Quote from: Petey Pate on November 22, 2021, 03:54:27 PMThere were a couple of Malcolm in the Middle episodes with plots revolving around Hal playing poker with Abe and his buddies.

Two of the best episodes.

It frustrates me how most poker scenes in sitcoms/movies have them playing 7-Card Stud instead of Texas Hold 'Em or something more interesting, but I guess it's the most cinematically simple and allows them to sort of sit around talking about other things whilst holding their cards until finally deciding to show them once it's narratively convenient.

Andy147

Quote from: BeardFaceMan on November 22, 2021, 05:27:10 PMI remember there being a poker scene in Dream On, I think it was Channel 4 who used to show it. The main reason I remember it is because it turned into strip poker, was the first time I could remember seeing breasts in a sitcom like that. God bless Channel 4 in the 90s.

IIRC (and if it's the same episode) it wasn't exactly strip poker, it was some of the players running out of cash and betting their clothing.

Terry and June has an episode in which Terry offers to play bridge with his boss (Dennis), despite not knowing how to play, and then tries to teach himself in a few hours.

How Do You Want Me? also had an episode in which Ian and Lisa play bridge to try to impress her father. At one point Ian does something completely against the rules of bridge*, which I assumed at first was the joke, but it turned out that apparently Simon Nye (and everyone else involved) just didn't know the rules.

(To be fair to them, when people play poker in sitcoms, they're forever saying "I'll see your $5, and I'll raise you $10", which is equally against the rules of real poker).

*IIRC he says something like "Pass. And I double you"; while I guess a beginner might plausibly do that, the other players just sort of nod as if they're impressed by this bold play.

Brundle-Fly

Quote from: Ignatius_S on November 22, 2021, 03:37:31 PMYeah, I was about to say that in The Simpsons, in Secrets of a Successful Marriage and the episode with Marge becoming a cop, Homer's poker game is a plot device.

And how can we mention The Simpsons and card games without this Dreamworks pisstake?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55hjRyvEbhw

Glebe

Quote from: Ignatius_S on November 22, 2021, 03:23:01 PMThe Phil Silvers Show referenced cards a lot for comedy reasons and there, the humour was from what it said about Bilko's character and what we knew about it. In The Con Men episode, a crooked poker game was used a main element but the comedy came from Bilko pretending to act dumb and outplaying the cheaters (thanks to the Bilko shuffle). With all of those examples, no actual knowledge of the game in question is needed.

I can only recall seeing bits of Phil Silvers as a kid and of course he was always gambling but the mention brings to mind this amusing corpsing clip.

Quote from: Gurke and Hare on November 22, 2021, 05:14:47 PMAlso a reference in a Blackadder the Third episode, in which Prince George plays an exciting new game called "cards", the object of which is to give all your money away.

And of course Edmund suggests a game at the end to get his stolen swag back!

Quote from: Andy147 on November 23, 2021, 12:47:56 AMTerry and June has an episode in which Terry offers to play bridge with his boss (Dennis), despite not knowing how to play, and then tries to teach himself in a few hours.

Oh yeah! Now I'm thinking of Reginald Marsh going "MED-FORD!"

Gurke and Hare

Quote from: Andy147 on November 23, 2021, 12:47:56 AM(To be fair to them, when people play poker in sitcoms, they're forever saying "I'll see your $5, and I'll raise you $10", which is equally against the rules of real poker).

Um, no it isn't.

Tony Yeboah

Harry Enfield's Playboys: Twist. Twist. Twist. Twist. Twist. Twist.

Captain Z

That vaguely reminds me of at least one more example (Austin Powers?) of a character playing Blackjack, getting either 21 or a winning set of cards and continuing with "hit me".

Edit, I knew there was an Austin Powers version of this, but it's not what I was initially thinking of:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkzMA1jrm00

Purple Toupee

Quote from: Captain Z on November 23, 2021, 03:31:17 PMThat vaguely reminds me of at least one more example (Austin Powers?) of a character playing Blackjack, getting either 21 or a winning set of cards and continuing with "hit me".

Edit, I knew there was an Austin Powers version of this, but it's not what I was initially thinking of:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkzMA1jrm00

Maybe this from Family Guy?

https://youtu.be/qfX35o7v6XY

Rizla

Quote from: Gurke and Hare on November 23, 2021, 02:38:24 PMUm, no it isn't.
It's very often done in a manner that would see you ejected from even the friendliest game though - you have to make your raise in one go, you can't keep shoving money/chips into the middle whilst staring out your opponent, for example. The ludicrous film Rounders is full of egregious examples of this type of betting, known as "sprinkling".

Noodle Lizard

Quote from: Rizla on November 23, 2021, 06:58:23 PMIt's very often done in a manner that would see you ejected from even the friendliest game though - you have to make your raise in one go, you can't keep shoving money/chips into the middle whilst staring out your opponent, for example. The ludicrous film Rounders is full of egregious examples of this type of betting, known as "sprinkling".

You mean splashing the pot? I think it's fine if it's one-on-one (like in Rounders), since the winner's taking everything in the middle anyway. It's only considered really bad form if it fucks up the side-pots or makes it hard to count.

Rizla

Quote from: Noodle Lizard on November 23, 2021, 07:10:39 PMYou mean splashing the pot? I think it's fine if it's one-on-one (like in Rounders), since the winner's taking everything in the middle anyway. It's only considered really bad form if it fucks up the side-pots or makes it hard to count.
Splashing, not sprinkling, derp. Been a while. But still, even one-on-one, you cant make a raise, then another raise, then another, whilst glaring menacingly at the other player, even if you are "Teddy KGB". God that film's so stupid.

Noodle Lizard

Quote from: Rizla on November 23, 2021, 07:39:34 PMSplashing, not sprinkling, derp. Been a while. But still, even one-on-one, you cant make a raise, then another raise, then another, whilst glaring menacingly at the other player, even if you are "Teddy KGB". God that film's so stupid.

I haven't seen it for a while, but I don't remember that happening. You can raise, and then re-raise if the other person raises, though.

I suggest watching some Phil Hellmuth or Tony G videos if you want to see proper professional poker players with absolutely zero etiquette (terrifyingly, the latter is now an elected political official).

Gurke and Hare

I don't know anything about splashing or sprinkling, but there's absolutely no sensible etiquette issue around raising more than the original bet.

Andy147

It's the splitting it into two actions ("see your ..." and "raise your...") that isn't allowed in serious poker games. (I don't think "I'll see ..." is used in serious poker anyway: you check, bet, call, raise or fold).

Other card playing in comedies:

- Margo and Barbara play pontoon in The Good Life while Tom is trying to rescue the pigs (Barbara twists about 9 times and it ends 'pay 19s, 20s, 21s, 22s' '75, bust').
- Bugs Bunny plays blackjack with Blacque Jacque Shellacque in "Bonanza Bunny", and sticks on one card, which turns out to be the 21 of hearts.



Rizla

String betting, that's the phrase I was looking for. I used to play loads, every night sometimes, league games round the pubs where cunts take it incredibly seriously. Made the finals at the casino a few times and even won a (hideous, cheap perspex) trophy or two. Think the most I ever got £-wise was two or three hundred for coming second. Mad waste of time, but I used to enjoy bossing the league table at my local, where you also got a crate of beer along with the 30 odd quid if you won. Patience and boredom management is the real key, having the ability to fold shit hands early on in a tournament, and get aggressive later on. Incredible how many "seasoned" players don't seem to grasp that. Haven't played in well over 3 years now, can't say I miss it. A game that can be a great laugh among friends but in the pubs attracts some right pond life.

Norton Canes


Noodle Lizard

Quote from: Andy147 on November 23, 2021, 10:31:13 PMIt's the splitting it into two actions ("see your ..." and "raise your...") that isn't allowed in serious poker games. (I don't think "I'll see ..." is used in serious poker anyway: you check, bet, call, raise or fold).

I think that's sort of semantic. Obviously "see your ..." refers to calling, but it can also be a way of acknowledging the raise before raising it further. People do it all the time in Vegas because they think that's the kind of thing you're supposed to say (probably based on movies). It's a bit stupid, but it wouldn't raise an eyebrow in most games.

String-betting is a little different, because that implies that you're deliberately using it as a strategy to gauge another player's hand, but that's usually not what's going on (at least in my experience) and you wouldn't get away with it. That being said, there are plenty of examples of pro players using similar psychology to influence other people's plays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYd8XipbKRQ

Of course, if you're playing poker properly, it's probably best to just be quiet.

Glebe


andy33

November 24, 2021, 09:20:25 PM #50 Last Edit: November 25, 2021, 01:15:38 AM by Barry Admin
(spam - removed)


Captain Z

Quote from: Purple Toupee on November 23, 2021, 06:21:53 PMMaybe this from Family Guy?

https://youtu.be/qfX35o7v6XY

Probably is this because the dialogue is almost exactly as I remember, I was sure it was a live action thing tho.

idunnosomename

i think it's hilarious to take a deck of cards and imply you can shuffle it by splitting it into two hands then flicking them into each other

and then just doing it with no skill whatsoever and them going everywhere.

i have no friends.

andy33

Oh, I've just seen my previous post was removed for spamming (sorry), but it had a link to an article I once wrote about the poker games in Curb Your Enthusiasm. (It was on a poker website, so I guess it could look spammy.)

Anyhow, as far as I can make out, there are at least three major poker scenes in Curb: "The Shrimp Incident", in season two, is the one where Larry calls the guy a c-word, admitting, "Maybe in retrospect I should have said 'pussy'." This also plays into a minor plot point that Larry can't believe the guy isn't gay, despite having a wife and children. The whole business of equating weak-passive poker with being gay possibly isn't Larry's finest work, but it's a funny scene.

There's also a poker game in "Kamikaze Bingo" in season five, which is funny too. This is where the host learns mid-game that his brother-in-law has attempted suicide and rushes out the house, with his wife. The remaining poker buddies, including Larry and Jeff, talk themselves into staying in a host-less house and continuing the game. They're still there when the traumatised owners return.

Finally, there's a game in "Side Sitting" from season ten, which features Larry, Jeff, Lewis, Leon and cousin Andy, and this is a weird one from a poker point of view. There's enough evidence that someone on the production crew, or maybe the actors, understand the mechanics of poker, but it's absolutely riddled with continuity and etiquette errors. You can really see how these kind of improvised scenes in Curb are necessarily brutally edited because the chips on the table move all over the place, and the characters' poker actions don't follow any real logic. A lot of real home games are a bit like that, where people are distracted by conversation and aren't following what's happening with the cards, but it's quite extreme.

Anyway, there's more po-faced analysis in the full article that I won't link to.

On a related topic, a friend and colleague wrote a book titled "Poker In Pop Culture", which has a whole chapter on sitcom poker. He makes a really good point in it that poker games are pretty much perfect for sitcom: you can get all the characters together; you can put them through some emotional highs and lows; you can create an enclosed plot; and then you can send them all home again exactly as they were at the start. This is especially important in American syndicated sitcom, where episodes are often viewed out of order, and you don't actually want character development through a series.

Anyhow, there's poker in absolutely tons of American sitcoms: "I Love Lucy"; the Jackie Gleason vehicle "The Honeymooners"; "The Dick Van Dyke Show"; the US version of Steptoe "Sanford and Son". It's in "M*A*S*H" a lot, and "Cheers", etc., etc. And "Friends". And "30 Rock".

Autopsy Turvey

Someone always says "it's too rich for my blood" at some point.

There's a Morecambe & Wise sketch from Two Of A Kind where Ernie, Sid and Dick are playing a hugely convoluted card game and Eric's trying to pick it up as he goes along but getting steamrollered by all the quirky rules. It's a kind of proto-Go Johnny Go Go Go Go. I think eventually they agree to play Snap, only to discover Eric can't get the hang of that either.

There's a Jasper Carrott routine on Cosmic Carrott (maybe the most underrated stand-up LP of all time, it's not even on YouTube for goodnesses sakes) about playing cards with relatives at Christmas ("I hate Pontoon, it's so bloody boring isn't it? Every year my missus forgets the rules. There's only three of them! It's always 'Twist, twist, twist me another, ooh another 5-card trick!' 'Eh? That's the third on the trot. Let's have a look at your cards. You've bust! You've got 47!!' 'Yes it's good isn't it, I only had 39 last hand!'" I still have no idea about the rules of Pontoon but this still tickles me.)