Poker Pop Culture: From TV to Super Bowl to ‘Yellowstone’s’ Dutton Ranch and More

February 25, 2022
Poker Pop Culture: From TV to Super Bowl to ‘Yellowstone’s’ Dutton Ranch and More

Poker in pop culture is nothing new. The game has been featured in film, television, and any other medium possibly imaginable. The last few weeks has seen the game take center stage in quite a few interesting ways. 

February saw 16-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Hellmuth move into a different gaming realm. A Hollywood star also lent his name to a WSOP commercial.

Even the Super Bowl featured some poker action. Here’s a look at poker recently finding its way into some interesting scenarios.

Poker Brat takes on cornhole competition  

Hellmuth lent his name to a special celebrity event for the American Cornhole League on Feb. 11 as part of Super Bowl weekend. “Superhole III” saw celebrities paired with cornhole pros and played out on ESPN from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

The tournament was timed with Super Bowl weekend. How did the Poker Brat fare with the bags versus his cards-and-chip play?

“One I’m one of the best in the world, and the other a rank amateur,” Hellmuth told USPoker. He added that he’s, “played like twice in my life! I’m not great.”

Despite that poor prognostication, Hellmuth showed some nice bag prowess. He and his partner Cody Henderson advanced through the first round and into the final.

However, former NFL running back Terry Kirby and pro cornhole player Rosie Streker sent the pair packing in the finals. The “poker brat” persona didn’t make an appearance, but that may not be the case when Hellmuth is back to bracelet hunting this summer at the WSOP.

WSOP goes Hollywood

The WSOP seems ready for an even bigger splash in 2022, even lining up two Hollywood stars for series-related appearances. Actor Laurence Fishburne, of “Boyz in the Hood” and “Matrix” fame, recently teamed up with the company’s free-to-play social poker game.

The acting legend appears in a new commercial for Playtika, WSOP’s social game partner. The commercial is titled “The Legend of World Series of Poker” and sees Fishburne narrate the story of online poker player “StanDaMan“. Like most players, a championship bracelet is Stan’s ultimate goal.

“It was a really interesting offer to join the project,” Fuishburne said in a news release. “It came to me, and I thought I had to be a part of this.

“I’m aware of WSOP and am fascinated by the gamesmanship of it. I’m thrilled to be a part of this game, and hope people enjoy my presence and that it can give them some joy!”

This isn’t the only celebrity actor linked to the WSOP this year. With the WSOP moving to the Las Vegas Strip, actor and comedian Vince Vaughan will serve as ambassador and master of ceremonies.

“I have such a strong connection to Las Vegas and am honored to be selected as the master of ceremonies for what is set to be the most anticipated WSOP tournament ever,” Vaughn said during the announcement in November. “Poker has long been one of my favorite sports, so to be a part of something as historic as the WSOP finally moving to the Strip is an absolute dream. Vegas Baby, Vegas!”

Poker on ‘Yellowstone’s’ Dutton Ranch

Speaking of Hollywood, no reference to poker in pop culture would be complete without a look at one of the hottest shows on television. “Yellowstone” has become a certified hit since debuting in 2018.

The series stars Kevin Costner as John Dutton, the owner of a generations-old ranch in Montana. Dutton squares off against a host of enemies vying to get control of his ranch.

To keep the land in his family, Dutton isn’t afraid of tactics outside the law. The show is a bit of “Dallas” meets “The Sopranos” in the West.

And just like in the Old West, poker plays a role occasionally. These cowboys often break out the cards and chips for some poker in the bunkhouse.

 “Cowboy poker” is also featured in one episode. This popular rodeo event sees four bullfighters (formerly known as rodeo clowns) sitting at a table as if in a heated game of poker.

An angry bull is then released, heating the action up even more. The beast charges the table, with cards flying as the game is “interrupted” by the bull.

In this poker game, the winner is the final player remaining before bailing out. This may not be real poker, but folding certainly keeps a player alive. Here’s a look at the scene.

Poker in the Super Bowl

Poker even played a role in the Super Bowl this year. The big game saw a bit of poker as the marketing company Rakuten shelled out some big bucks for a spot.

The ad features “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham locked in a high stakes game with a twist. She’s betting big with some of her purchases made using the company’s shopping app.

From high heels to a robot vacuum, the action heats up. It’s a fun commercial and the rare poker pop culture reference that revolves mostly around women playing the game. Here’s a look. 

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