The Most Popular Artworks Depicting Gambling

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Watercolor painting of playing cards.
BetMGM Aug 29, 2023, 2:02 PM

People often overlook the distinct connection between art and gambling. While popular music inspired by and films centered around casinos often get their time in the sun, the connection goes deeper than that. In fact, works of art depicting gambling are among some of the most incredible masterpieces out there. There are even online slots that have extremely rewarding and pleasing art themes. 

This post looks at some of the most famous artworks depicting gambling. The next time you enter a casino, look at the artwork on the wall — you may just find a true masterpiece looking back at you. Here are some of history’s most iconic gambling paintings.

1. “Dogs Playing Poker” (1984)

Artist: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

The “Dogs Playing Poker” artwork is one of the most recognizable pieces of art worldwide. It depicts gambling anthropomorphic dogs, which definitely raises a brow and interest in Coolidge’s thought process. You will not often find a pack of dogs sitting around a table playing poker. However, Coolidge does this so brilliantly in his art. “Dogs Playing Poker” was a series of 18 paintings, so it’s important not to think of them as one painting. He painted his first in the series titled “Poker Game” in 1984 — a painting reproduced by various cigar companies who famously showcased it on their products.

His works continued to feature comical, human-like dogs in various settings, although only 11 paintings show them playing poker.

2. “At the Roulette Table” (1892)

Artist: Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch regularly visited the Casino de Monte-Carlo. This casino setting inspired him to create the painting, “At the Roulette Table,” which he painted from memory, drawing inspiration from his feelings while visiting the casino. He perfectly captures the nervous atmosphere at the game table, where players experience both winning and losing. Munch captures the tension and drama around the roulette table very well.

3. “Card Players” (1892/1895)

The post-impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne spent several years drawing and painting farm workers on the rural estate where he lived. “Card Players” is one of five paintings depicting some of these men playing cards. Before creating “Card Players,” Cézanne drew many sketches and painted lots of portraits as a form of practice to create his series. You’ll notice that his figures are elongated and somewhat out of proportion and that his painting captures a feeling of stillness and concentration.

4. “The Cardsharps” (1594)

Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 

“The Cardsharps” is one of the best-preserved works by Caravaggio. The Italian Baroque artist painted it when he was attempting to establish an independent career as a painter after having the Cavaliere Giuseppe Cesari d’Arpino workshop. “The Cardsharps” provides modern audiences with an insight into a gambling event of the 1500s. Ultimately, the painting depicts a well-dressed but naive boy playing cards. The second boy is the cardsharp and he has extra cards tucked in his belt, behind his back and out of sight. The older man looks at the boy’s shoulder and signals his accomplice with his fingers. This breathtaking casino painting offers a rare combination of brutal real-world realism and Venetian sophistication. It’s impressive how the casino has evolved from the scene Caravaggio paints to the online casino games played today. 

5. “The Cheat With the Ace of Clubs”

Artist: George de La Tour

Considered one of the greatest masterpieces of 17th-century French art, “The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs” speaks to the danger of indulgence in wine, women and gambling. It’s believed that Caravaggio’s “The Cardsharps” inspired La Tour’s painting. In this painting, de la Tour depicts a man with three women surrounding him. The man — a cheat — tips his cards to the viewer, who then becomes complicit in the scheme, knowing that it will inevitably prevail in a cheating scheme. La Tour created some of the most visually compelling images of his period.

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Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.