Louis Theroux

High Stakes and Dramatic Twists: 5 Fictional Gambling Series that Hit the Jackpot

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High Stakes and Dramatic Twists: 5 Fictional Gambling Series that Hit the JackpotIn the ever-evolving landscape of television, some series manage to capture audiences with a combination of suspense, drama, and the irresistible allure of the high-stakes world of gambling. Among these, five fictional gambling series have risen to critical acclaim, showcasing the thrill and unpredictability of games of chance. One such series that has left a lasting impression is “Big Deal,” starring Ray Brooks.

  1. Big Deal (1994-1996): Ray Brooks takes center stage in “Big Deal,” a British television series that follows the life of a small-time gambler named Robbie Box. Set against the backdrop of London’s bustling gambling scene, the show explores the highs and lows of Robbie’s endeavors, blending humor with moments of intense drama. Brooks delivers a compelling performance as a charismatic but flawed protagonist, making “Big Deal” a must-watch for fans of gambling and character-driven narratives.

2) Tilt (2005): “Tilt” is a gripping drama that delves into the world of high-stakes poker. Set in Las Vegas, the series follows the lives of professional poker players as they navigate the treacherous waters of the gambling capital of the world. The show masterfully captures the psychological and strategic aspects of poker, creating an immersive experience for viewers. With a stellar cast and a plot filled with twists and turns, “Tilt” remains a standout in the gambling series genre.

3) Luck (2011-2012): Created by David Milch and starring Dustin Hoffman, “Luck” is a horse racing drama that explores the interconnected lives of gamblers, trainers, and jockeys. The series provides a unique glimpse into the world of horse racing, combining Milch’s signature storytelling with Hoffman’s compelling portrayal of a complex character. Unfortunately, the show was short-lived, but its impact on the portrayal of gambling in television is undeniable.

4) Vegas (2012-2013): “Vegas” takes viewers back to the 1960s, where Sheriff Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid, tries to maintain law and order in the budding gambling oasis of Las Vegas. The series not only explores the political and criminal underbelly of the city but also delves into the high-stakes gambling that defined the era. With a blend of crime, drama, and a touch of historical nostalgia, “Vegas” offers a unique perspective on the intertwining worlds of law enforcement and gambling.

5) The House (2017): “The House” is a recent addition to the gambling series genre, bringing a fresh and modern take on the theme. Starring an ensemble cast led by Olivia Wilde, the series revolves around a group of friends who decide to open an underground casino to solve their financial troubles. As they navigate the challenges of running an illicit gambling operation, the show explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and the consequences of risky decision-making.

In conclusion, the world of fictional gambling series has produced some remarkable gems that continue to captivate audiences. From the humor-infused “Big Deal” to the intense poker drama of “Tilt” and the historical backdrop of “Vegas,” each series offers a unique perspective on the thrilling and unpredictable world of gambling. As television continues to evolve, these shows stand as a testament to the enduring appeal of high-stakes storytelling on the small screen.

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4 Main Protagonists in Louis Theroux’s Gambling In Las Vegas (Including ‘The Mattress King’)

Image by Freepik4 Main Protagonists in Louis Theroux's Gambling In Las Vegas (Including 'The Mattress King')One of my favourite gambling documentaries has to be Louis Theroux’s Gambling In Las Vegas which aired back in 2007 on BBC 2. After all these years later (17 years), I can still remember this crazy cast of gamblers and their stories. Presented by Theroux he heads to the Las Vegas Hilton to reveal the world behind the myths of casino culture. Directed by Stuart Cabb, it also stars Richard Wilk, the ‘Whale Hunter who had clients commit suicide over gambling losses’ tempting The Mattress King to gamble hell-and-all cash.

This episode had a run time of 60 minutes and well received by viewers and critics alike.

Let’s reminisce about a few of these infamous gamblers which include:

1) Allan Erlick ‘The Mattress King’:

Allan ‘The Mattress King‘ is a high-roller gambler (a whale) who enjoys a gamble at Las Vegas. He’s seen sitting at the roulette table winning $50,000. Louis asked: ‘You’re winning money, why not stop now?’ Allan replies with a smile: ‘Gamblers never stop.’ You just knew it was going to take a downward trajectory from there. Allan, from Toronto, Canada is a high-roller on a mission to bet big. He gets the best suite in the Hilton free of charge (the most expensive room he ever stayed). As his friend Richard Wilk’s says: ‘This is your home for three days!’ He has his own butler, too. Allan says: ‘I could go to any hotel but I go where Rich goes. We’re friends first, business later. We’ve had one argument in 10 years! He works for the casino but he’s rooting for me to win.’ Louis says: Vegas, they didn’t build this place on winners!’  The next morning Allan was ready to roll to the sound track of Elvis Presley ‘It’s Now or Never’. Playing roulette, Allan couldn’t find a winner. he was risking $4K a spin. Louis asks: ‘Is there any technique to where you are putting the chips?’ Allan says: ‘I’m just picking what I feel. I’ve been gambling since I was 16. My wife doesn’t like me gambling. It’s not a good thing.’  On the second day Allan was losing heavily after losing $80K on the slots.  Alan says: ‘Who is counting? It’s a gambler’s problem, knowing when to quit!’

2) Martha ‘Gambling Her Son’s Inheritance’:

Martha, a heavy smoker in her 80s, has been a regular at the casino for over 7 years and lost over $4M. The casino even paid for the memorial service of her late husband (Sam). ‘It was so beautiful. It  didn’t cost me one penny!’ She sits at the slots playing with a smile on her face and without a care in the world. However, he long-suffering son (Seth) (clearly in a no-win situation) says he doesn’t mind his mother gambling away his inheritance.  She says: ‘Whatever is left he can have.’  I’m sure Sigmund Freud would be able to explain this family dynamic. Casino man Tommy Brown looks after Martha Ogman, a retired doctor, who plays high-limit slots. Tommy said: She’s our number one guest, a beautiful woman.’ Martha says: ‘This is my second home!’ What’s more surprising (or not) is that she’s been going to the casino for the last 10 year, every day.  Tommy say: ‘We value her! It’s a place of enjoyment. We don’t want you to lose your house.’  The next day Louis joins Martha to play the slots. He asks: ‘Is there any skill involved?’  She answers: ‘No!’ Louis asks if Martha is addicted to gambling. She says: ‘I’ve never been addicted to anything in my life. Why would I stop, I’m enjoying myself?’ Louis asks: ‘Are you going to run out of money? ‘ She replies: ‘No.’ Martha said: ‘My husband and son never tell me what to do. I do what I think is right.’ ‘If there’s nothing left, there’s nothing left.’

3) Richard Wilk: ‘Whale Hunter!’:

The man who brings the biggest gamblers into the casino and make sure they keep gambling. Supposedly, one of his closest friends Allan Erlick ‘The Mattress Man’ is in his sights. Wilk’s calls him ‘The Mattress King’ because he owns one of the biggest mattress businesses in Canada. Wilk’s says: He’s a friend, high-roller and the godfather to my little girl!’ (I wonder what he does to his enemies!).  Allan truly is a lamb to the slaughter. When talking about Allan losing an estimated $160K he says: ‘Who am I to tell people what to do with their money?’

4) John Rominelli & Tim Nordahl: ‘Salesmen On A 3-Day Blitz’:

I’m not sure which is John or Tim, but the one with the beard looks quite smug telling Louis he is up ’10G’, while detailing that his friend over the year is down $160,000. Which he says, smiling: ‘It’s not true! He’s full of it! I’m not in the hole at all.’ I must admit I love these two gamblers. You just know something is going to go tragically wrong after the ’10G’ man says: I try to play as consistently as possible.’   I can’t help smile at the two friends who keep laughing at each other and almost insisting each is a big-time loser. Louis asks: ‘Will you be doing any gambling tonight?’ The smug bearded man replied: ‘Absolutely.’ Laughing, he says: ‘Isn’t that why people come to Vegas?’   Later that evening Louis met up with the pair who had been on The Strip. It had been 24-hours since he last talked to them. Louis asks: ‘What happened?’ The bearded bloke, looking half stressed if not nervous said: ‘I’m down 14 or 15K, plush the ’10G’ I won!’ Louis says: ‘So, you’re down $24k.’ The bloke replies: ‘It sucks!’ He smiles as Louis asks: ‘Have you been having a wonderful time?’  He carries on gambling, with his friend smiling in the background, saying he is going to teach Louis how to win. (You can tell this is1n’t going to end well). Chewing gum, John an extrovert gambler says: ‘I’m not a quitter.’  Playing roulette with Louis (who was winning) John continued to lose. He says: ‘This is unbelievable. I haven’t won a hand in half an hour.’  John walks away from the table a dejected figure clearly stressed out. Tim bets $400 on a hand and wins. ‘That’s how you do it, man.’ We see the camera zoom to John at another table shaking his head after losing more cash. He comes back to the table to see how Louis is doing. Louis asks: ‘How you doing?’ John replies: ‘Forget about me.’ John’s losing streak continued. To be fair, I felt sorry for John. Tim says: ‘Don’t be negative.’ In the background we hear the familiar sound of Elvis It’s Now or Never. With John chasing his losses Louis finished the evening with one last big bet. He won! Tim said he lost $4K. ‘Only bet what you can afford to lose.’ He points to John in the distance laughing, he says: ‘That’s what you don’t want to do!’ Louis asks John: ‘How you doing?’ He replies: ‘Horribly.’ Tim starts sing: ‘You gotta know when to hold’em, you gotta know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.’ It’s truly a scene of desperation.

Excellent TV.

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