” Bet that … ? “And Co: gambling on TV

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” Bet that … ? “And Co: gambling on TV

Betting and gambling have always fascinated people. And since this enthusiasm simply does not stop, but rather becomes even stronger, the game and the people who run it are of course also a big topic for other areas – for example television. Screenwriters most often take on such a task and develop exciting fictional material that is then filmed. As a rule, these films contain the full range of feelings – just like gambling itself: emotional roller coasters of interesting personalities with risky pitfalls and the potential to get rich. Most of these strips are first shown in the cinema before you can see them on TV. But there are other examples that have nothing to do with a feature film. Do you remember “Wetten dass …?” Here gambling was even an elementary part of a TV show – and not just any, but the most successful one that was ever broadcast on German television. It was also considered the largest TV show in Europe.

” Bet that … ? “- Gambling show on German TV

It is claimed that Frank Elstner wrote the concept for “Wetten dass …?” Within two hours. This happened in a sleepless night. The great television maker had come up with a gambling format that then also became an absolute hit. Several prominent guests and various betting providers were invited to the show. Each betting provider received a celebrity as a sponsor. The respective betting providers bet that they could do something very special, and the godfather then tapped the outcome of the bet. That means: the prominent godfather had to decide whether the “special” of the betting provider actually succeeds in the show or not. In the event that the sponsor lost his bet, he had to place a bet in advance. From 1987, the spectators could also choose the king of each show, which meant that the focus was soon on very spectacular bets.

The show was produced as a Eurovision broadcast – a collaboration between ZDF, the Swiss SR and the Austrian ORF. It was broadcast live, and one of her hallmarks was that the airtime was constantly being overrun. Frank Elstner “hung” for a full 43 minutes in the very first show. He moderated “Wetten dass …?” From 1981. In 1987 he was replaced by Thomas Gottschalk, who led through 36 programs until 1992. After Wolfgang Lippert flopped as a presenter, Thomas Gottschalk took over the TV show again on January 15, 1994. In 2014 Markus Lanz followed him until “Wetten dass …” was finally discontinued at the end of 2014 after 215 broadcasts. At the moment there are persistent rumors that there will be a new edition in 2021, and this one again with the now 70-year-old Thomas Gottschalk as host.

The topic of gambling in the film

In addition to TV shows, in the past it was mainly feature films that revolved around the subject of gambling. “Rounders” is considered the best poker film of all time. In it, Oscar winner Matt Damon plays a law student whose greatest dream is to become a professional player. He loses everything and wins it back. Next to him play John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol, Edward Norton and John Torturro. An extremely entertaining comedy from 1996, which never found its way into German cinemas and only appeared on DVD in Germany in 2006.

Another poker film is, for example, “High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story” from 2003 with Sopranos star Michael Imperioli in the title role. An attempt is made here to use flashbacks to tell all the ups and downs of Stuey Ungar (1953 – 1998), probably the best no-limit player of all time. However, the plant received very bad reviews. If you are interested in Stu, the documentary “One of a kind” is recommended.

One of the most successful films in the 1970s was “The Clou”, originally called “The Sting”. In this crook comedy, Paul Newman and Robert Redford play two crooks who take revenge on a mafia boss for having their friend killed. Ultimately, they do this with a sophisticated poker game with incredibly high, almost unrealistic bets.

Las Vegas film set

The most common setting in all the gambling-related films is of course Las Vegas. The metropolis in the Nevada desert is also the scene of “The Player”, an almost forgotten diamond of the film noir. Here Barbara Stanwyck plays the daughter of an honest player, in the footsteps of whom she follows. But she is out of luck – neither in life nor in love and ends up in prison.

Also in the new edition of “The Gambler” from 2014, several scenes were shot in Sin City. Mark Wahlberg can be seen in the role of a highly indebted and addicted literary professor from New York who gambles away all his money and finally manages to get rid of his addiction.

This material had already been made into a film by Karel Reisz in 1974. Back then, James Caan played the leading role in “Uncritical Players”. If they are broadcast on free-to-air TV, numerous other strips are also worth a look. Of particular note are, of course, “Casino” by Martin Scorsese or “Runner Runner”, in which Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck stand out in online poker. If you don’t want to wait that long, you should watch these films on a streaming service like Netflix. They are extremely exciting and offer excellent entertainment – like gambling itself.

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