Games & Gambling in Science Fiction

As surprising as it may sound, gambling has been fairly well represented over the years within the comic book industry.

Gambling has long been one of mankind’s favorite pastimes and has been with us in one way or another for the last millennium or so. The emergence of online casino and other platforms has meant that in the modern day, gambling is a bigger part of our lives than ever before and as a result, it can now be found in various areas of pop culture. While it may seem like a somewhat strange combination on the surface, gambling has made its way into a number of science-fiction movies and shows over the years, with the high-octane nature of casino games perfectly complementing the exhilarating storylines and subplots found in many of the best sci-fi programs. So, without further ado, below are the most memorable gambling-themed scenes within the science-fiction genre.

Star Trek

During the series, it’s explained that poker was a popular game which was played on Earth back some years ago and the game is referenced numerous times throughout the various different guises which the show operates under. In the original Star Trek, Leonard McCoy offers to show Captain Spock the ropes with regards to the rules of the game and in “The Next Generation”, some of the senior staff introduce Data to poker with quite hilarious results. Being an Android, Data presumes that the game can be mastered by simply using mathematical processing but he quickly learns this isn’t the case after constantly failing to recognize whether someone is bluffing or not. Of course, the crew poke fun at him because of this fact and to the hardcore fans of the series, this was one of the funniest moments throughout the whole franchise. 

Comic Books

As surprising as it may sound, gambling has been fairly well represented over the years within the comic book industry. The popular antihero Gambit has a number of character flaws which add to the depth of his character – cards are a big part of his personality and his love of cards and gambling is undoubtedly one of the most relatable and natural representations of casino-related fun in the comic book folklore. In addition to this, there are a number of comic book villains who love to gamble such as Two-Face from the Batman franchise who makes his decisions on the flip of a coin and Roulette, a DC character who is equipped with the power to alter probability. 

 

 

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Star Wars

Longtime fans of Star Wars will no doubt be aware that the series has its own version of poker named Sabacc, which is played all the way across the galaxy. The game has pip cards, four suites, four face cards and a fairly complex set of rules – a quick scouring of some of the more geeky internet forums reveals that there are several versions of Sabacc such as the Corellian Spike, which is played with a stake which is allegedly faster than light. Incidentally, Sabacc is the game in which Lando Calrissian loses the Millenium Falcon to Han Solo (first mentioned in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) and the element of gambling away possessions is seen throughout the entire franchise.

Sci-Fi Blockbusters

The 2011 film In Time starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried features a rather interesting gambling scene which involves Will (Timberlake’s character) visiting the casino. In the movie, time can effectively be bought sold and exchanged just like money – Will ends up winning a fortune in a lucrative game of poker (1,100 years to be precise) and of course, he gets hunted down because of it. More recently, The Hunger Games franchise has also brought a form of gambling to the forefront of cinema, with spectators able to bet on the competitors they think will survive the brutality of the games – the movie even states how the odds can fluctuate throughout the competition depending on the sequence of events that take place.

Gambling and Science Fiction Go Hand in Hand

While it’s down to the creative direction of those in charge to seamlessly incorporate gambling scenes within science fiction, there’s no doubt that the two are a match made in heaven. Whether it’s on the big or small screen, science fiction is often fast-paced, exciting and nerve-wracking and these are also things that you associate with the casino. Due to this, we think it’s likely that we’ll see much more gambling within the science-fiction genre within the next few years or so and you certainly won’t see us complaining about that.

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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