"I won my first wife shooting dice, but I lost her in a poker game."Gambling seems to be a natural human activity. We have friendly bets on when Margaret's baby will be born. Not-so-friendly bets on which sports team will be victorious this year. Sometimes we stake money and sometimes the stakes are less tangible. In fiction, however, it's perfectly okay to bet people in a game of chance. Typically a comedy trope, although you might find it in serious fiction with a setting where slavery is accepted. Often (especially if this is used to resolve a Love Triangle), whoever it was who thought the person was theirs to bet in the first place will "lose" them, whatever the result of the wager itself. That doesn't necessarily mean that the other party will "win" them, however. This happens a lot with employers betting employees for whatever reason, yet the Justification — betting their employment contract rather than the employees themselves — is almost never used. Most often the card game is poker, but theoretically any form of game that allows The Bet would work. A comedic form of the Absurdly High-Stakes Game. Compare the Bachelor Auction, which is consensual on the "traded" person's part.
— David Allan Coe, "Lay My Money Down"
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Done entirely seriously in the (Daniel J.) Darby the Gambler battle of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure with souls and various forms of gambling.
- Darby's younger brother, Terence, also does this, albeit with video games instead of gambling.
- A more gruesome example comes in the form of Part 6's Marylin Manson, a stand which immediately and invariably enforces the terms of the bet it oversees. If the loser doesn't have the money they bet on their person, it collects their internal organs based on their going rate on the black market.
- In one arc of Descendants of Darkness, Tsuzuki loses his own body to Muraki in a game of poker. Hisoka deigns to save him by winning him back from Muraki.
- The soul of oneself or loved ones at stake is a common setup in Yu-Gi-Oh!, technically the good guys don't (usually) initiate such games; yet are forced to play them through anyway. For example, Pegasus and Kaiba duel for Mokuba's soul, which is literally in a card, and with Kaiba also offering his soul if he loses. He does, so his soul goes into the card.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, there are two factions called "families" in Crash Town who compete for extraction of raw materials. To strengthen their power, both families send a representant of the respective family in a duel. The loser becomes a slave worker for the other family and he has to work in a mine for the rest of his life. It's worth noting that the duelists often come from different places all over the world, and the main reason why they are insane enough to put their lives on a wager is because Crash Town attracts challengers.
- In Kaiji, gamblers who didn't win enough onboard the Espoir were threatened with slave labor. Later, Kaiji is involved in quite a few gambits where his own physical health/life is on the line.
- Liar Game vaguely implies that something similar happens to its losers, but it never goes beyond the LGT making a few sinister comments about getting their money back one way or another (though the amounts involved are high enough that they clearly cannot be paid off through normal means).
- In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the SOS Brigade are challenged to play a game against the computer club. The computer club wants to win back a computer Haruhi stole and offers three more computers should she win. Haruhi offers Yuki to balance out the bet, equating her with the three computers. When the computer club are shocked, she offers Mikuru and then herself. This last provokes panic, so in the end only their computer is wagered.
- The Davy Back Fight in One Piece is essentially a sporting event with the competing crews members hanging in the balance.
- In Porco Rosso, Fio offers herself as the stake for Porco and Curtis' duel since Porco didn't have anything else to bet. (Porco tries to object but is quickly overruled.)
- A variation of this occurs in episode 16 of the first anime season of Black Butler, when Ciel and Sebastian meet the spirit of Edward V in a castle. Prince Edward and Ciel play a game of chess to pass the time, and Ciel reluctantly bets Sebastian, because the Edward's younger brother Richard took a liking to him. Ciel loses. Although he gets Sebastian back, of course.
- The threat of such is used as motivation for Team Hokage to win in The Flame of Recca - In order to participate in the Tournament Arc, they have to stake something that the other side wants, so Yanagi volunteers for the job.
- In Jewelpet (2009), the Big Bad sets up the Jewel Games where he bets several powerful Jewelpets for the heroes to recover. In exchange, he demands that the main heroine, Rinko, bet herself, as she is the only one capable of wielding the Jewel Stick, which he needs to complete his plans. He wins her in episode 45, but she escapes one episode later without him managing to carry out his intention.
- Fairly standard in No Game No Life. At one point, an entire species is bet.
- This almost happens to Empowered, except the others playing refuse to accept her as a bet due to the 'unwritten rules'- they don't want a superhero team after them just 'cause one idiot tried to use a heroine in a poker game, thanks.
- In Doonesbury, "Uncle" Duke isn't really Zonker's uncle. He himself isn't sure of their relationship, but he thinks he recalls winning Zonker in a card game.
- One issue of The Simpsons comic used this in order to make Smithers Homer's servant. Just for the fun, note that this was Mr. Burn's way of matching a $5 bet, because he had used all his "pocket change" at the laundromat.
- After the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, after an almost 90-year drought, a fake ad was aired for MasterCard that showed various Red Sox fans saying things like, "Oh, I'd trade my car," "I'd trade my house," "I'd trade my firstborn son for the Red Sox to win the World Series!," followed by a montage of these people's pledged items being ruthlessly confiscated - right up to the toddler who delightedly squeals, "Go Sox!" as he's carried away... It ended with the logo of two interlocking circles... followed by one circle falling away with a "snip" noise while someone voiced-over, "OW." Denis Leary had pledged his left nut.
- Advice And Trust: In chapter 8 Shinji loses a Strip Chess match against Pen Pen and becomes his "butler" for a month (long -and hilarious- story). Asuka wanted to win Shinji back, so she and the penguin played another Strip Chess match. If she won, she would have Shinji back and he would be her cabaña boy for one week; if Pen Pen won, Shinji would be his butler for one month AND she would do all Shinji's chores. Pen Pen lost the match and Shinji.
- This Hetalia fanart.
- In Vathara's Witchy Woman, Megumi Takani is passed off as a girlfriend belonging to a very unfortunate gambler who had no money with which to settle his debts. Kaoru was not pleased.
- Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker allows you to bet anything, including people, but the winner has to return them before the police get involved.
- Shows up in the backstory of one of the protagonists in Kyoshi Rising; Wandering Minstrel Sun almost lost his previous travelling partner to a bunch of sandbenders when he bet too high in a game. He won, fortunately, but his partner thanked him by taking the winnings and framing him for robbery.
- The plot of The Night the House of Cards was Built basically amounts to "Naruto enters a poker game with the most influential people in Konoha and wins (among many other things) several women and girls".note
- Lucky is a literal interpretation of Mouse's canonical statement that he 'won' Harry Dresden. Specifically, he got Harry's guardian angel drunk and played poker with him.
- The whole point of the Shirley Temple film Little Miss Marker (based on a Damon Runyon story), in which Shirley's father leaves her as collateral when placing a bet on a horse, loses the bet, and thus loses Shirley—and commits suicide immediately thereafter.
- In Swing Time, the contract for a band changes hands several times in this way.
- In Benny & Joon, Joon gets Sam in a poker game. She lost.
- In Star Wars:
- In The Phantom Menace, Anakin is won in a podracing bet. And whether it was Anakin or his mother was decided by a chance cube throw. The Jedi didn't exactly leave it to chance, though...
- In Episode V, it is revealed that Lando lost the Millennium Falcon to Han in a card game called sabacc. The way they talk about that ship, it could be considered a person.
- Apparently, you can wager anything in sabacc, literally. Han actually won an entire planet in one such game, the one he took Leia to after abducting her in The Courtship of Princess Leia. On another note, Anakin and his mother were originally owned by a Hutt named Gardulla who won them by cheating in this game (and Gardulla tended to cheat at sabacc a lot). Watto won them from her by betting on another pod race, and he was known to cheat too; the dice cube he used in that previous example was loaded, according to some sources. (Still, at least he wasn't as cruel as the Hutts tended to be.)
- In the Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason movie The Toy, one of the sordid stories about U.S. Bates (Gleason) was that he won his servant Barkley in a game of pool.
- In Almost Famous, one of the bands bets their groupies.
- In Amazing Grace, William Wilberforce pulls out of a card game when his opponent bets a slave. Needless to say, a serious example.
- Honeymoon in Vegas
- Starts off the plot of Ruggles of Red Gap, as Ruggles the British valet is gambled and lost to a pair of loudmouth American tourists.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Will Turner bets his soul against Davy Jones' key on a game of Liar's Dice. His father intentionally loses, to spare Will the forfeit.
- An unfortunate man lost his wife to the brewer in Yojimbo.
- Used as a punchline in Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy:
Bud: "No, no; his mummy is a he."Lou: "Strange country! Your mommy, your mommy was a lady, wasn't she?"Bud: "I never had a mummy!"Lou: "So what'd your father do; win you in a crap game?"
- Little Miss Marker by Damon Runyon (which inspired the Shirley Temple film of the same name).
- Saki did this, also with a cook.
- The Robert Asprin novel Little Myth Marker, part of his Myth Adventures series. The title is a reference to Little Miss Marker. Subverted in that is later revealed that this was done deliberately on the orders of the "kid" bet so as to infiltrate the hero's household.
- Likewise, the fan version, Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker, allows this.
- Gone with the Wind, where Gerald O'Hara wins Pork (his slave valet) in a poker game.
- In the Star Wars book series, Han wins a planet in a card game that turns out to be inhabited. By a Witch Species, to boot. And of course, it's been long established that the transfer of everyone's favourite Cool Ship from Lando to Han occurred in the same way.
- In one book, Han and Leia (who'd had an almighty row a couple of chapters earlier) run into an old acquaintance of his, and when Leia asks him how they met he names the trope all but word for word. Leia was not amused, and Han has to rather quickly reassure her that he was a slave-owner for no longer than it took to file the necessary manumission paperwork.
- In the Fate of the Jedi series, a reporter on a world with legalized slavery wins a slave from one of the locals. She proceeds to interview him on camera, then frees him on the spot and hires him on as a member of her film crew.
- Erast Fandorin bet the heroine against a donkey in The Turkish Gambit (both the book and the movie), for a lack of any money or means of transportation. But then, as he is quick to point out, he was Born Lucky, and so knew he was not risking anything.
- Last Call by Tim Powers is about a poker player who thought he won a huge pot in a game years ago... only to discover that he traded away his body and soul to the guy organizing the game. And now he's got to win it back before the guy comes to collect...
- In Declare by the same author, the protagonist and the traitor Kim Philby gamble for the Love Interest versus a scroll detailing the secret of eternal life. The game is interrupted, but Philby insists on completing the game when they meet up again in Moscow.
- On more than one occasion, P. G. Wodehouse's writing featured an Upper-Class Twit who includes his or her domestic servant as stakes in some sort of harebrained wager.
- Hawk from the Hawk And Fisher novels once claimed to have lost his missing eye in a card game, although he was joking.
- In Chess with a Dragon, some insectoid aliens are shown engaged in some sort of gambling game. The biggest loser of the evening is said to be dangerously close to "gracing the table", i.e. becoming dinner for the winners.
- In The Good Soldier Švejk, Svejk becomes batman of army chaplain Otto Katz, but Katz loses him at cards to Lieutenant Lukáš. Played both for comedy and drama. Betting people as property is a new low for Katz, putting him on par with slave traders. But not for Lukáš, his batman deserved that.
- In the short story "Hazard" by Georgette Heyer, a man bets his half-sister in a game of hazard. She's so angry that she leaves willingly enough (with the hero, who she's in love with) and punishes the hero for playing the game by threatening to cause a scandal and make him marry her (as he's engaged to someone else).
- One of the characters in Jeannette Winterson's The Passion bets his own life in a card game and loses. But he says it was worth it.
- In the course of a long night of dice, Athos of The Three Musketeers stakes horses, a diamond that does not belong to him, and his servant Grimaud. After several losses, he retrieves the diamond, Grimaud, and the horse's harness— but not the horse.
- This happens to the protagonist in one of Angela Carter's retellings of Beauty and the Beast. Her father loses her to the "beast" (she notes that it's not that he cared more about gambling than his daughter, just equally much). And then he turns out to be a tiger in human's clothes and she turns into one too and willingly stays with him while sending back to her father a clockwork version of herself because clearly that's all he wants. This must be symbolic of something...
- Bryony House in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy books is the only one whose adepts will gamble for their favours. It is said they very rarely lose. Hyacinthe's mother, a virgin at the time, was wagered by her cousin. Three guesses how that turned out.
- One of Roald Dahl's short stories concerns a man who bets his daughter's hand in marriage that a wine-taster cannot figure out exactly where a wine came from. As the story goes on the wine taster only gets closer and closer to the truth, much to the daughter's horror. At the end it turns out the reason he was getting so close was that he had peeked at the label before, and though the resolution isn't shown, one can presume this means the bet is off.
- In the Liaden Universe novel Plan B, there's a character who's fallen so low that not only did his last master stake him in a card game, the bet was that the loser had to keep him.
- Happens to Ruti in The Red Tent; Laban gambles her away. Knowing she'll be mistreated (not that she was being treated well before), she appeals to Leah for help. Leah and Jacob meet the men who were coming to pick up Ruti and with some effort get them to agree to take a bunch of their possessions instead of Ruti. Unfortunately for Ruti, this results in Laban treating her even worse than before.
- In Plum Lucky, Diesel adds Stephanie to the pot in a high-stakes poker game. Fortunately for her (the opponent is highly unpleasant), Diesel wins.
- In Iron Council, Judah had to go on the run after his employer lost him in a card game. His flight was justified, as his boss hadn't actually owned Judah in the first place.
- Mandala 10, Hymn 34 (dated to 1,100 B.C. or older) of the Rig-Veda is the lament of a gambling addict who has lost not only all his property, but also his wife in games of dice.
- In Troubled Range by J.T. Edson, a friend of Mark Counter's accidentally wins a wife in a poker game. The friend thought the ship's captain he was playing against had been betting his ship when he tossed in the marker with the name written on it.
- In the Secret Histories novel Casino Infernale, the eponymous casino holds a high stakes poker game for the express purpose of wagering misappropriated souls. The protagonists infiltrate the game in order to rescue the souls and destroy the casino.
- In Ruthanne Lum Mc Cunn's Thousand Pieces of Gold novel and the film based on it, American pioneer and experienced gambler Charles Bemis engages in a card game to the Chinese Hong King for the stated purpose of winning the Chinese's maid Polly. (While based on a true story, it appears the way Real Life Polly got her freedom was different.)
- Nikolai Gogol's novel Dead Souls takes place in Imperial Russia during the first half of the XIX century, when it had especially hard laws on serfdom making it essentially slavery. The protagonist, Chichikov, runs a scam that involves buying serfs that are already dead but aren'r yet legally registered as dead. At one point he meets a landowner named Nozdryov, who is a compulsive gambler, and they play a checkers game in which the bet is serfs.
- In the Xanth series book Demons Don't Dream, Dug makes a bet with his best friend Edsel that Ed won't be able to find a game to interest Dug, with the stakes being Ed's motorcycle and Dug's girlfriend Pia. When Dug tells Pia about the bet, she is fine with it, and when Dug ends up losing, he isn't upset at all, since at the end of completing the Companions of Xanth computer game, he had fallen for Kim, the other person playing it.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Barney wagers (and loses) Marshal in an inscrutable Asian card game while they are having his bachelor party. It's all an elaborate prank on Barney, though, so everyone laughs in the end... Except for Barney, who thought he was to blame for Marshal getting his hands chopped off.
- NewsRadio did this with Bill, who is appalled when he learns that he was bet against a mixing board until he's told the board is worth millions. It is explained as being a clause in Bill's contract. Being lost in a card game is apparently defined as an act of God, as the contract refers to Jimmy James as God.
- Pushing Daisies does this with a man bargaining his daughter off for marriage.
- In S-Club 7 in Miami, their boss at the hotel where they work loses them in a poker game to a rival hotel owner.
- In an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem bet and lost the Spellmans in a game of poker.
- In an episode of Bonanza, a man won a compulsive gambler's wife, and didn't see anything wrong with making sure he collected.
- In season 3 of Desperate Housewives, Mike and Ian bet Susan in a poker game when they're both vying for her heart.
- Borderline example in Knight Rider: Michael deliberately lost KITT in a game with the episode's bad guy, as part of a plan to take him down. Unfortunately he didn't bother to explain it to KITT beforehand.
- In the M*A*S*H episode, "The Moose", a new sergeant arrives at the 4077th with his "moose" (a Korean girl servant) named Young-Hi. Hawkeye rigs a poker game against the sergeant and wins Young-Hi. Hilarity ensues when Hawkeye tries to let Young-Hi go.
- An episode of The Odd Couple has Oscar lose Felix to guest star Bobby Riggs as a glorified butler. Oscar offers to try to win his freedom back but Felix wins it back himself by holding a note longer than Riggs.
Oscar: I'll win you back, buddy!Felix: No you won't. You'll lose double or nothing and I'll have to bring in my brother from Buffalo!
- In The Beiderbecke Affair, Jill Swinburne loses her boyfriend, Trevor Chaplain, to his former fiancee, Helen of Tadcaster, in a coin-toss after a night of heavy drinking. Mrs Swinburne honours her agreement with Helen, but Mr Chaplain goes back to her anyway because "nobody wins me at the toss of a coin." It is strongly suggested that this is a new development in Trevor's persona since the time when he and Helen were engaged.
- A Simon episode featured Duke Stone at a poker table betting his butler because he was two dollars short of the money needed to match the last bet and his nephew wouldn't allow him to pay later. Simon won that round. In the end, Duke offered his gardener in exchange to get his butler back.
- Subverted on Parks and Recreation when Andy "won" Ann from Mark in a pool game:
Mark: I don't even know how to say this. I am so sorry, and I will do my best to visit you on holidays.
Ann: Thanks. You tried.
Mark: I guess you're his now.
Ann: Do you want to get out of here?
Mark: I do.
Ann: Okay. Bye, Andy.
[they leave, cut to Confession Cam]
Andy: I know that legally Ann is now mine, but it weirdly doesn't feel that way.
[the next day]
Ann: I hope I'm not going to have to explain to you that you don't actually own me.
Andy: Of course not. I never for one second thought that that was for real.
- In an episode of Gilligan's Island, the Skipper and Mr. Howell bet on their turtles racing, eventually with Mr. Howell "winning" Gilligan from the Skipper. After losing more times, the Skipper has nothing left to bet, but Mr. Howell finally has him choose which hand has a pebble. When the Skipper chooses wrongly again, Mr. Howell delivers Gilligan back to him. When the Skipper protests that he lost, Mr. Howell cites all the damage Gilligan did while working for him and says whoever has Gilligan is the loser.
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Entangled", Lister loses Rimmer while playing poker with GELFs.
Cat: We're all deeply sorry, bud. Except for me and him and him.
- Primeval: Abby's brother loses Team Pet Rex in a card game. Connor and Becker get him back.
- Happens to the the narrator of the song "My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artist" by The Decemberists.
"...'til the money got tight, and they [his parents] bet me away to a blind brigadier in a game of high stakes canasta."
Mythology and Religion
- This is the driving feature behind the Pandavas' exile in the Mahabharata. Yudishtra, the Crown Prince, has but one fault - a propensity to gamble. His evil Uncle Shakuni invites him to gamble with his cousin who craves the throne. However, Shakuni has cheating dice. Yudisthra bets and loses everything he owns and then begins to wager his brothers, then himself, then his wife, Draupadi. She is dragged, shrieking, by her hair, into the assembly, and is ordered to be stripped. As they do it, she cries out to Lord Krishna, who transforms her sari into a neverending sari. When they fall down from exhaustion from pulling at the folds, she delivers such an impassioned and resentful speech at Yudisthra's family - her in-laws after all - about her vile treatment, that they agree to give the brothers back their lives and change it to exile from the kingdom instead.
- Mandala 10, Hymn 34 (1,100 BCE or older) of the Sanskrit Rig-Veda is the lament of a gambler who has lost not only all his property, but also his wife in games of dice.
- In 31 Minutos, a comedy show about a news program run by puppets, it's commented that a member of the crew Bodoque, who has a gambling problem, bet his own aunt. Hilariously, Bodoque defends himself saying that he won the game, so now he has two aunts.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "The Stones of Venice", the Duke of Venice gambled his wife away in a game of chance. In response, she put a hundred-year curse on the city, and the Doctor and Charley arrive the day before the curse is due to take effect.
- Happens to several people in a really high-stakes poker game among supernatural beings, in a fictional interlude of the Underworld RPG rulebook. Souls, sanity, intellects and destinies were all laid on the table once the betting got hot.
- A supernatural poker game also occurs in the To Go module for Unknown Armies. One match is "jailhouse eightball", where the players bet things they want to get rid of. One player bets the cancer her son is suffering from, another bets one of his enemies.
- In BattleTech lore, Hauptmann Caradoc Trevena pulls this trick at an officer's card game to acquire the transfer of Leftenant Isobel Murdoch, an actual competent second-in-command, along with her Hunchback Battlemech, to his unit. His unit comprised entirely of Light Battlemechs piloted by a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, New Meat, and Nice Guys survives the Jade Falcon invasion of Coventry intact and manages to link up with reinforcements thanks in part to her training and command skills, where larger, more prestigious, and more powerful units fighting alongside them are annihilated by the Falcons because they did not have discipline, good command, or common sense.
- Clan trial also work this way they wager in almost anything, be it equipment, mechs, and even personnel. The winner gets the spoils wagered, and even their opponent when they want to.
- In the Mage: The Awakening quickstart, one of the characters won an NPC ally this way (said NPC bet himself, and expects to be free after three tasks). Later on, the P Cs have the option of trying to win back one (or possibly more, if things go badly enough) of their souls like this. Betting the NPC is listed as a way to get the opponent to bet said soul, but dings Wisdom.
- A sidequest in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords involves a man who's lost his girlfriend in a Pazaak game. You can win her the same way; if you do, you learn she doesn't want to go back to him, and actually won't unless you threaten to sell her to the Hutts. It isn't clear how he could claim ownership to transfer either way, as this took place on a Republic station, but there is a Mafia-like presence there so it's plausible she would become a victim of trafficking.
- Grandia III has Lovable Rogue Alonso trying to win his ship back from the (female) casino owner who won it earlier in a rigged game. When he runs out of material possessions to bet, he bets himself: if he loses, he'll marry the owner (who has been after him for years, but is quite ugly in both face and personality).
- In Starcraft II Matt Horner ''won'' Mira Han in a poker game.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic has a background conversation in the casino on Nar Shaddaa that involves a gambler apparently having wagered the woman he's with, possibly in a reference to the KOTOR2 quest mentioned above. She is very definitely not amused.
- Part of Scarlet's backstory in Armello. Her father's terrible gambling habits landed her in the paws of Slantfang, leader of one of Armello's bandit gangs. She managed to claw her way up the ranks, and eventually united all of the clans under her rule as Bandit King.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: 7 years ago, Zak Gramarye was accused of murder. Kristoph Gavin offered to be his defense attorney, but after Zak won a game of poker against him, he refused. Phoenix then made the same offer, and was also challenged to a game of poker. Phoenix won, and Zak hired him. Kristoph, furious at losing a client over a poker game, proceeded to ruin Phoenix's career by slipping him forged evidence.
- Friendly Hostility: Collin wins Bootsie in a poker game. As well, Rafi loses toddler Fatima in a poker game (to a pair of friendly cannibals hosting a dinner party!) and he and Padma must scramble to retrieve her.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Riff at one point mentions that his assistant (when he ran a company for anti-monster equipment) lost her family to vampires. He then specifies that she lost them in a poker game.
- In S.S.D.D. Tessa apparently won her robot boyfriend Sticks in a card game, granted he was a just sex robot and wasn't fully self-aware until Tessa modified him (to make him more interesting for resale).
- Collar 6: Sixx bet herself ( She wins).
- Married to the Sea provides the current page image.
- Tower of God: Prince said he'd give the indebted Yeon to the person who'd win the World's Strongest Shinsoo Competition. He really didn't count on losing against Baam, but when he does, he gives Yeon up, albeit under great protest.
- It's a running joke on SF Debris that the frequent absences of Alexander Rozhenko from Star Trek: The Next Generation were because Worf kept losing him in poker games and needed to work on purchasing him back. This would certainly explain why Alexander's so pissed off at him when he finally shows up as an adult on Deep Space Nine.
- In an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Mr. Krabs bets Spongebob in a poker match with Plankton. Plankton tries forcing SpongeBob to make a Krabby Patty, but only becomes frustrated when he refuses. When Plankton finally gives up and gives SpongeBob back to Mr. Krabs, he admits he cheated. More plausible in that he didn't bet the sponge himself, but Spongebob's contract of employment.
- In an episode of King of the Hill, Hank is lost by his boss Buck Strickland to rival propane shop owner M. F. Thatherton! Buck mentions he usually bets Joe Jack, so this must happen often.
- In an episode of Timon & Pumbaa Timon bet Pumbaa in a poker game, and lost him to the owner of a meat processing plant.
- Subverted in The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. K'nuckles bets Flapjack in a card game, and wins, getting another cabin boy as the prize. However, Flapjack is so insulted about this that he leaves and becomes a banker.
- Happened in an episode of Johnny Bravo where Johnny was bet and lost by Momma to a big game hunter (a character homage to Sydney Greenstreet) in a poker game. He cheated in an obvious manner but it took the length of the episode for Momma to realize this and come to Johnny's rescue.
- On the season 12 The Simpsons episode "Children of a Lesser Clod" (the episode where Homer starts a home day care center after breaking his knee in a basketball accident), one of the video clips of how much of a horrible father Homer is to Bart, Lisa, and Maggie shows Homer betting Maggie in a poker game — and losing her to Moe Szyslak.
- One of the comics ended up with Smithers temporarily being Homer's assistant under similar circumstances.
- In the episode "The Burns and the Bees", Mr. Burns and some other billionaires were reunited for a card game and Burns added Smithers into the pot. Rich Texan said that, since they were betting people, he'd add his basketball team. Despite thinking they're "hardly worth a Smithers", Burns accepted it. And won.
- Burns and Rich Texan once waged all their wordly possessions on a scavenger hunt. Once Rich Texan won, he started riding Smithers as if he was another prize. Sure, Smithers' employment contract was more likely to be linked to the power plant rather than Mr. Burns but still...
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi "Bad Manager" Kaz bets Ami and Yumi in a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Different game, same plot. Slick Shady, who won the girls, actually did a better job managing their careers than Kaz usually does. Despite this, Ami and Yumi challenged for a Rock-Paper-Scissors game for the right to return to Kaz.
- Grim bets himself and loses in a game of limbo (to gain the soul of a hamster, of all things), however it did set the series in motion, so it's not a total loss.
- In an episode of Hey Arnold!, the freeloader Oscar bets the baby he's supposed to be looking after in a high-stakes poker game after he realizes he's out of chips. The other players refuse to accept this and storm out. Turns out Oscar had a royal flush,note so it's not as bad as it looks.
- In an episode of The Mask, Stanley sold his soul to the Devil, known in this series as "Bob". The Mask challenged Bob to a dance contest for his freedom. When he lost, Bob challenged Mask for a double or nothing rematch, which Bob lost, resulting on him having to be Mask's servant.
- In The Venture Bros. episode "What Colour Is Your Cleansuit?", Billy Quizboy's Arch-Enemy, St. Cloud, challenges Billy to a quiz competition, asking him to bet his heterosexual life partner Pete White. (Because Pete is an albino, and St. Cloud collects those.) Billy accepts without hesitation, much to Pete's annoyance. He wins.
- Gawayn: When Sir Roderick becomes The Gambling Addict in "Casino Quest", he ends up losing his squire William in a bet.
- In the Star Wars Rebels episode "Idiot's Array," Zeb bets Chopper in a game of Sabacc, believing he has an unbeatable hand. Unfortunately, his opponent is Lando Calrissian, who uses the titular hand to beat him, winning Chopper in the process. The Ghost crew has to help Lando in his schemes for the rest of the episode in order to win Chopper back.
- In the Bounty Hamster episode "Just Deserts", Marion loses Cassie in a card game.
- Not too long after Walt Disney left Universal—orphaning his proto-Mickey character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit—Walter Lantz won the rights to Oswald in a poker game with company founder Carl Laemmle.
- Decades later, the Disney company was able to get Oswald back... in exchange for ESPN Sportscaster Al Michaels. For the record, Michaels is pretty cool with it.
- As slaves are the legal property of their master, there is nothing preventing slave-owners from betting their slaves whenever slavery is legalized, as shown in this◊ cartoon about Imperial Russia.
- Happened in Russia in 2007. The wife was so pissed off, she left with the winner. The two are now Happily Married, and probably have the best 'how we met' story out of anyone they know.
- Walter Lantz won the rights to cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Universal in a card game.
- In Aztec society, apparently betting was such Serious Business that people would occasionally bet themselves into slavery.
- The Roman author Tacitus writes about the Germanics that they would not only willingly gamble away their whole property, wife and children, but even themselves.
- Oskar Schindler won Helen Hirsch, notorious Nazi Amon Goeth's Jewish maid. One night, while playing cards with Goeth, Schindler plied him with plenty of booze and got him very drunk, and persuaded him to gamble with Hirsch as a stake in the game. With—no doubt—a little help from the booze, Schindler stacked the deck and cheated outrageously to make sure he had the winning hand. Then, when Goeth tried to welch on his bet, Schindler said something like "Now, now, Goeth, you play fair!" and that's how he won her life in a card game.
- Sacagawea (who was a guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition with her husband) became the wife of French-Canadian trapper Charbonneau because he reportedly either bought her from the Hidatsa tribe that captured her or won her while gambling.
- The Islamic State offered Sex Slaves as first prizes for a Koran memorization contest for Ramadan.