Source: Rounders via Facebook
Netflix is constantly seeking to update its catalogue with TV series that can rival offerings from the giant corporations like HBO. And there have been a few occasions when the streaming service has really hit the mark. Orange is the New Black has won numerous awards including the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Casting in a Comedy Series, and more recently Stranger Things has received incredible critical acclaim. Netflix often goes for edgy and original offerings that are prized for their uniqueness, and for this reason, it may be smart for them to create a drama series based on poker.
The reason why poker could be such a winning theme for a Netflix series is that there would be a huge audience for it. Millions of people play poker on a regular basis, with Texas Hold’em being one of the most popular forms of the game. There are other options like 7 Cards Stud and Omaha Hi, but the two-card hand variant with five community cards translates best to TV because it’s considered to be the easiest form of poker to understand. There have been few movies or TV shows based on the game, but Rounders, which was released in 1998, has been credited with helping to spark the poker boom in the 2000s.
There is certainly a gap in the market for a poker TV series, as titles about the cunning card game have been few and far between. There was one drama show called Tilt, which aired on ESPN in 2005, but this only lasted for nine episodes and wasn’t renewed for another season. The way viewers consume series has changed a lot since then, though, and there was certainly no such thing as binge-watching new shows twelve years ago. With the money and influence that Netflix has at its disposal, if the service decided to create a drama about poker it could employ more skilled actors, writers, and directors. This has been highlighted with House of Cards and Mindhunter, which both featured Oscar-nominated auteur David Fincher as a director on early episodes.
While there haven’t been many fictional series based on Texas Hold ‘Em, there have been plenty of televised poker games in the past that have been extremely popular. High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark both featured legends of the game such as Phil Helmuth, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey. The shows provided detailed commentary while these experts battled for supremacy in cash games, and helped give the viewer a better idea of how to play the game. If Netflix chose not to do a fictional series about poker, having a live series like this and inviting some of the world’s best to the table could also potentially attract a high number of viewers.
Netflix has proved to be good at spotting the public’s need for a certain type of TV show and fulfilling that need. With the amount of poker players all over the world increasing by the year, the time is right for more shows based on the hugely popular pastime. Netflix should look to get there first and beat the competition.