A Look at Poker in Media: How the Game Became a Classic

Jan 10, 2024

Poker in Media

If you ask a person to name a gambling game, most will probably say poker. For good reason too, as it is easily one of the most recognizable card games in the world. 

Though it may not be the most popular at casinos, it is easily one of the most popular gambling games, if you take into account all the people playing at poker sites, rooms, and even at home with friends. 

Indeed, its popularity far exceeds the gambling world. The game is now a staple in plenty of media that, in some way, relate to gambling. 

In this article, we would like to explore different aspects of our popular culture and look at poker’s place in these avenues of life. 

Poker at Online Casinos

Online casinos are the biggest hit among gamblers in 2023. These websites host a variety of the most popular gambling games in the world. 

Of course, it is among them. When not as popular as, for example, slots or blackjack, online poker does enjoy quite a bit of success at online casinos. 


Recently, in 2022, reports have revealed that the global online poker market size was worth around USD 86.2 billion.
Henceforth, by 2030, the market size is estimated to grow to around USD 237.5 billion at a CAGR of 13.5%.

Outside online casinos, but still related to iGaming, are the various poker-only websites that specialize in bringing online games of chance right to your home. 

Fans have been playing at these sites for years, and many top-tier players today got their start online. 

However, being featured at online casinos is not surprising. What may shock you is learning that the game has had a major influence on artists and painters throughout history. 

Let us take a look at some profound pieces of art, inspired by gambling.

Poker in Art

When we discuss it in art, there is one painting that will instantly come to mind. 

Dogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge has been featured in films, TV shows, art books, and even cartoons. 

Dogs Playing Poker

The oil painting depicts seven hounds seated around a circular table, playing their favorite game.

Fast Fact:
Coolidge was an American painter who was applauded for his Dogs Playing Poker paintings. 
He had no formal training but relying on his talent, he started selling illustrations in his early 20s.

The painting’s success, while immense, has also served to overshadow the other paintings in Coolidge’s series like Pinched with Four Aces, Sitting Up with a Sick Friend, a Waterloo, Poker Sympathy, etc. 

You see, when the most popular painting in the series is often referred to as Dogs Playing Poker, its actual name is A Friend in Need

The name refers to an entire series of 16 oil paintings, depicting pups, hounds, and dogs of various sizes partaking in a round of their favorite game. 

The first painting in the series was done in 1894, and it shows four seemingly St. Bernards in a darkly lit room, playing a game of cards. 

It is moody, and atmospheric, and tells a story that clearly shows who the winner is. The last painting in the series came out twelve years later and shows a chaotic scene of the hounds flying into fits of rage. 

Poker in Music

The visual arts are not the only ones affected by everyone’s favorite gambling game. Music has seen its fair share of songs about poker. 

For example, Motorhead’s 1980 album Ace of Spades comes blasting off the bat with the iconic ode to irresponsible gambling, Ace of Spades. The song discusses the pros and cons of a gambling life, from slow rolls to huge wins. 

Songs about it, however, are not just popular in heavy metal. Pop music has had its fair share of hits regarding gambling. 

The most notable one here would be Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. Of course, the song is just ambiguous enough, so people can continuously debate whether it is about poker, sex, or romance. 

Do You Know?:
Lady Gaga wrote “Poker Face” in just ten minutes in a burst of creativity. Initially, Poker Face was intended to be a ballad but she and her producer switched gears to create a dance-pop track.

In either case, Lady Gaga does incorporate its imagery to embolden her message. 

Of course, the most iconic song of the 20th century is definitely Kenny Rodgers’ The Gambler. 

The Gambler song

Though several artists have performed the song, Rodgers’ version remains the uncontested classic. The somber tone of the song lends it an incredible atmosphere of mysticism, the Old West, and regret. 

“A Good Run of Bad Luck”, this soundtrack was featured in one of the most loved 1994 gambling movies “Maverick”. It was about playing fast and loose in craps and love.

Some Last Thoughts

Poker remains one of the most popular games in the world. We’ve seen video games, films about the game, and even books (like The Theory of Poker, Every Hand Revealed, Winning Low-limit Hold’em, Elements of Poker, etc) whose plot centers around a poker match. 

Yet, few people have gotten bored of the game. Indeed, with so many references to poker popping up in daily life, it would seem that its popularity has only gotten bigger. 

In the future, poker will be cementing its place being an indispensable part of world culture.