If you enjoy some gambling now and then, you’ve probably also indulged in a few chuckles at a gambling meme or two – hilarious images that poke fun at one of your favourite pastimes. However, gambling hasn’t just infiltrated the world of memes; it has also penetrated every aspect of popular culture – from books to TV shows to rock songs and blockbuster Hollywood movies. Join us as we explore the 5 most intriguing references to gambling to appear in pop culture to date!
Guy Ritchie’s 1998 hit, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, centres around a rigged card game that lands main character Eddie in deep water with a notorious criminal named ‘Hatchett’ Harry. Card sharp Eddie is told he has just one week to repay his debt of £500,000 – or else. A hilarious, if violent, series of events ensues as he and his friends frantically try to find a way to make such a massive amount of money in such a brief window of time. Despite taking just £800,000 to make, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was very well received and scored over $28 million at the box office. It remains a cult classic, along with Ritchie’s other low-budget success story, Snatch.
Ian Fleming’s novel – and the ensuing films – focus on a high-stakes game of Texas Hold’Em which takes place in a luxurious casino in Montenegro. The orchestrator of the poker game is a private banker with terrorist clients, known as Le Chiffre. The story depicts the beginning of James Bond’s career when he has only just earned his agent title – and Le Chiffre is his first major opponent after becoming 007.
One of the most famous gambling-related songs of all time, The Gambler was written by 23-year-old Don Schlitz in 1976 and was sung by Bobby Bare, Schlitz himself, and even country legend Johnny Cash. However it was Kenny Rogers who really made the song his own and transformed it into a smash hit that not only topped the country music charts but also made it into the pop charts too – a highly significant achievement, as country songs hardly ever managed to become pop successes at the time.
If you’re familiar with the Marvel realm of superheroes and super-villains, you may already be aware of the character Gambit. This X-Man has the ability to transform a humble pack of playing cards into powerful bombs that can destroy his enemies with ease. Gambit is such an alluring and charismatic figure that there have been calls to make a Marvel film featuring his character; as yet, however, there is no Gambit movie in the pipeline.
Arguably one of the most iconic references to gambling in pop culture is the film Ocean’s Eleven. Its most recent incarnation featured the eternally suave George Clooney as well as fellow luminaries Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. The plot revolves around a daring plan to rob not just one but three of the most iconic Las Vegas casinos, stealing a total of $150 million. Whip-smart, funny and thrilling, this is a film that anyone who loves a gamble is sure to enjoy.
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