M*A*S*H is easily one of the greatest comedic series in the history of TV. Most everyone has watched at least one episode of the program, as it is still regularly rerun in syndication and remains popular, despite having aired its final episode 30 years ago. The creators of M*A*S*H made use of everyday life at the 4077 as a way to forward the series over the use of long drawn out plot lines. One of the common scenarios presented in M*A*S*H was a friendly game of poker. Today, we are going to take a look at the importance of the game of poker to M*A*S*H.
Keep in mind that M*A*S*H was set during the Korean War and that the characters had to find a way to unwind and escape from the horrors of what went on over there. Poker was one of the ways that Hawkeye, BJ, and the rest found a way to get together, have fun, and try to forget that their lives could be at risk at any moment.
Often the simple game of five card stud or five card draw would be used to set up the story for that week’s episode. You found out early on during one episode that something was wrong with BJ because he was trying to win everyone’s money and was being highly competitive. You later find out that he is having financial problems at home.
The game sometimes was used as a way to develop a character during an episode. For example, the gang often had the week’s guest star join them in a game of poker. Sometimes, it was a way to try and soften him up toward the group; sometimes, the game was used as a way to try to gather information.
You also found out things about characters you would never expect. For example, you would never expect the pompous Major Winchester to be a decent poker player, but he was. At least, that was until they found out that his poker tell was whistling. We also found out that Father Mulcahey actually finds the game of poker relaxing. That’s not something you would expect from a Catholic priest.
When the gang got together to play poker during M*A*S*H, they were not playing high stakes or trying to get rich. They were getting together to have some fun, a few drinks, and, if they got lucky, maybe win a few bucks. It is the classic all-American poker game that most of use know and love and a reason why it worked so well during the show’s 11 season run.