The game of poker is a worldwide phenomenon. Since the days of the soldiers on the steamboats it’s been a favorite, and it’s gone from being a simple pastime to a billion dollar industry. It’s a game that’s regularly seen in Hollywood and our TV screens are becoming awash with men sitting round a table, beer in one hand, cards in the other, simply as a way of portraying real life and bringing a series of characters together.
But it turns out the game isn’t limited to just Sunnydale and Capeside, but rather making its way into the likes of Wakanda and Metropolis too. Over the years the elite of the DC and Marvel universes have all enjoyed a round of cards, and in some fairly strange circumstances too. We take a look at the scenes where superheroes take a moment away from saving the world and play a few hands with their special-powered mates.
The Wolverine annual in 1999 threw up a scenario we all know about. The last beer being taken at a poker game, and it’s Nick Fury’s turn to go out and get another round. Which isn’t necessarily what Logan will be doing.
He hardly seems the expert, and it might be worth practicing in the online rooms before going up against his allies, because his bluffing is a little less to be desired claiming, “Playin’ cards is not what I do.”
Talk about giving the game away Wolverine!
It’s the typical poker game. Everyone’s sitting in the kitchen, cards being dealt, a few beers being sunk. The Avengers can take a break too you know.
Starring The Thing, Beast, Nick Fury, Miss Marvel, and a number of other Avengers, poker is featured in Marvel’s 1979 Two-In-One series and sees The Thing getting a little frustrated that players can read his rock like exterior, and he wasn’t happy to be beaten by a woman either.
Of course, that’s a regular occurrence today with women really making a name for themselves in the sport, and you’d imagine The Thing would take a real whooping from the likes of Liv Boeree, Vanessa Selbst, and Annie Duke who are among the top 10 female players. Then again he could just ask Spiderman to warn him of a good hand with his Spidey-senses.
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D
If Nick Fury were in the real world, you’d never see him saving the day – he’d be too busy playing poker. In a world where you can play the game online anytime, the cigar-smoking U.S. Army leader would be in his element, because he is featured again at the poker table, this time in his own 1991 Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic where he shows his pair of aces.
He is shown playing with Captain America and the Thing again – does he ever learn? – and luckily for both, who don’t have the best luck at the table, Fury receives a call to get out of there. Which is just as well, because Steve Rogers is looking strong and just put in a raise.
The scene really does depict a typical poker game, the same you would see in any film or on any poker night. Beer is flowing, cigars are being smoked, and it appears the game is getting a little tense – until Fury is saved by the bell, at least.
The Thing (again) challenges the X-Men to a game in 1998’s X-Men/Fantastic Four annual. The Thing clearly loves a game of poker but he’s on the losing side once again with first-timer Sam Guthrie (aka Cannonball) taking the spoils.
The Thing even shuffles this time around to try and get an advantage. It doesn’t work. Despite having never played before, Guthrie grabs a slice of beginner’s luck before lighting up a cigar to rub it in a little more. Well, until Psycho-Man turns up to spoil the party.
Now, we don’t want to cause an argument here, but we think playing cards against both Spider-Man and Johnny Storm is a little unfair. You can’t possibly see the eyes of Spidey, and Storm can blast fire from his eyes making him virtually unreadable. So clearly The Thing is in for a run for his money once again.
Although as it turns out, those two are the least of The Thing’s and the rest of the Avenger’s worries. Following a knock at the door, the highly-organized and tactical mastermind Kingpin marches through the door.
It certainly makes a change to their annual poker match, and Kingpin has victory within sight, and there’s $50,000 of his money on the line too.
It’s like the World Series of Poker but in comic form, and Spider-Man, like a Daniel Negreanu in fancy dress, snatches victory from the jaws of defeat to claim the pot.
There’s been a continued theme through this list, and it’s the “It’s clobberin’ time!” favorite The Thing. And the clearly poker loving character appears once again, only this time without his rough, rocky appearance and as Ben Grimm, his alter ego.
The comic, Fantastic Four #584 in 2010, sees Grim join the rest of the Fantastic Four go head to head in what seems to be a favorite pastime for the majority of them.
They appear to be playing The Floating Super Hero Poker Game, a game which was initially instigated by Grimm, which of course is no surprise it seems as he clearly sucks at Five Card Stud.
The game has actually featured a number of times through various comics, but we love this illustration showing the guys kicking back and relaxing, and for once, The Thing not being on the losing side.
And Then There’s The Royal Flush Gang
Not content with simply playing poker however, DC Comics has even created a series of bad guys known as The Royal Flush Gang, consisting of, as you’d expect, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, and Wild Card.
They’ve appeared in a number of comics, first appearing in Justice League of America #43 in 1996, and if that doesn’t say the comics love a game of cards, then we don’t know what does…