Today, we're looking at a peculiar set of comic book characters who play one of the most popular games in the world — poker! But first, how do poker and pop culture intersect?
Poker and Pop Culture
As one of the most recognizable games in the world, the game of poker has become a special part of our culture. With millions of enthusiasts across the globe, the rules of poker are fairly simple to learn, with plenty of exciting variants like Omaha and Five-Card Draw. This past year, the game's popularity skyrocketed even more, as people turned to its online versions in the midst of the pandemic.
Of course, it's easy to see why the game has been intricately woven into pop culture. American sitcoms of the '90s and early 2000s, like Friends and Seinfeld, had iconic episodes where the main characters played poker. Also, films such as Solo: A Star Wars Movie (2018) featured poker nights in unconventional locations, while classic poker films, like Rounders and The Cincinnati Kid, have developed a well-deserved cult following.
In the world of comic books, however, there are direct references to the game. In fact, Marvel published a series of issues from the early 1980s to late 2010s collectively alluding to the Floating Super-Hero Poker Game. These events started with matches between The Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and expanded to include members of the X-Men and other superheroes.
Poker Players in Comics
Here are some of our favorite comic book characters who've earned a reputation for enjoying a game or two of poker.
A comic book character virtually synonymous with poker and playing cards is the mutant Gambit, member of the X-Men. He uses a deck of cards charged with kinetic energy as his primary weapon, aside from his Bo-staff. He exudes the personality of a poker player: mysterious, reserved, and observant.
Moreover, he has been repeatedly labeled as Marvel’s best poker player in online forums. Playing with this talent would definitely be a challenge!
At this point, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone not familiar with Iron Man. He served as the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the past decade, and until now, he continues to influence the saga he already left behind.
As portrayed in films, his ways as a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist were pompous and extravagant, and he certainly knew his way around a casino. He even missed out on an awarding ceremony just to play poker at Caesar’s Palace. Surely, his superior intellect and strategic thinking — not to mention his abundant resources — gave him an advantage over other poker players.
Avid comic-book fans will know that The Thing loves playing poker. He has established this passion for the game through the poker games he is always in. He also organized a tournament for his “Bar Mitzvah,” or the 13th year since he became a mutant, where he was joined by the other Marvel superheroes.
His gentle giant facade is actually perfect for maintaining his composure while playing, as he is considered a master at concealing his emotions. With the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic Four franchise, we hope to see this side of The Thing as well.
Despite being superheroes, these characters still have a human side that indulges in the occasional game of poker. And that makes them all the more relatable. But just imagine a poker table with players of different personalities, backgrounds, and above all, powers. Isn’t that exciting?