We all know Benjamin "The Thing" Grimm as the ultimate poker player in the Marvel Universe, though he probably doesn't have the right power set to be superhumanly effective at it. We've got guys who can read minds and predict the future. How will Thing do against that type of individual in a straight up game of no-limit Texas Hold 'Em poker? Not too well, I imagine. It kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it? Whose super powers or combinations thereof would be perfect for cleaning out suckers night after night at poker? Let's examine that.
We've all wished for powers when at the table. But what would work best?
Daredevil's Hyper Senses
This power is generally described as heightened senses to a superhuman level. You'd be able to hear a bead of sweat drop from across the room, or even the hushed whisper uttered under one's breath. With this power, Daredevil is able to determine if someone is lying. It sort of works the same way a lie detector test does. Daredevil can feel the change in the heart rate, the level of perspiration and, according to the comic book the smell. Apparently, when people lie, they give off a smell.
DD has actually already used this power of his to win at poker. It happened in Daredevil #89, in Brubaker's run. Disguised as Mr. Mallory, he cleans out a casino in Monaco, while hunting down a lead. He said he never even bothered to look at his cards. Maybe because he can't because he's blind. But he won every hand just by reading his opponents. Of all the powers we've got in this list, it's probably the one that requires most skill.
Spidey has a sixth sense that warns him of impending danger, but with enough willpower, he can calibrate it for a multitude of tasks. He once used it to navigate his surroundings while temporarily blinded. It isn't such a stretch that he could be able to use it to play poker. The guy he's betting against sets off his Spider-Sense, he folds. He sees the flop and his noggin' starts tinglin', he folds. No tingle, take em' for all they're worth!
However, this power may not be as useful as we initially imagined. In a recent annual issue of Avenging Spider-Man, Thing is affected by a mad bomb and he goes after Spider-Man for the thirty bucks Spidey lost at poker.
Superman/ Supergirl's X-Ray Vision
As long as it isn't lead, Superman and the other Super People can see through it. Why lead? Because, well, why not? I guess it works exactly like X-Rays do, which also means if he does it often enough to someone, Superman could give him super cancer.
In poker, Supes can simply look through the fibers of the card and right at the ink printed on the opposite side of the card. A big drawback to this would be how weird it'd look. He'd have to be looking at the other players' cards, and then react after he gets the information he needs. In a way, that's plain cheating. With this power, he can do card tricks, too.
Domino/Black Cat's Probability Altering Powers
As all poker players know, poker about skill, but you can't discount the fact that there is a level of randomness that will tilt the odds. Some players say it's 50% skill and 50% luck. More hardcore individuals would even say it's about 85% skill and only 15% luck. Regardless of the actual ratio of skill and luck, how could you lose if you had 100% luck? If all the cards just fell your way, and conversely, would turn out horribly for your opponents, would you still need any skill? If every flop gave you a full house or a high flush, how much skill would you need to rely on?
I'm guessing... not much.
Professor X/ Emma Frost/ Rachel Grey/ Psylock's Mind Reading Power
I bet this is the most wished for power when there's a buttload of money in the pot and you're going up head to head against a guy as stoic as a flat rock. "What is that guy thinking?" is probably the most asked question right before making a decision. Mind reading would make most professional card games a little too boring, and this would probably rake in the largest amount of money. There's no way you could lose.
Although Professor X never really uses his powers for personal gain, Emma Frost wouldn't even bat an eyelash. And along with mind reading powers comes suggestive powers.
"Oh, you have pocket aces? Better fold."
Bluffing is the art of making those who want to take your money believe something that isn't necessarily true. This is exactly what Fantomex does. He makes you believe something that isn't really happening.
In the world of poker, getting someone believe you have a stronger hand than you actually do puts you in a very powerful position. With a strong bet, you could win the pot with absolutely nothing. And this is the type of influence misdirection can give. It's low level telepathy or illusion projection. Inversely, you can make someone believe you have a hand weaker than you actually have and you could take that poor schmuck for all he's worth.
Layla Miller's Knowing Stuff/ Predictive Powers
Future stuff is tricky. Almost all super hero characters who come form the future are in the past for one mission - to make sure the future they lived through doesn't come to pass. This means the time is malleable and events aren't written in stone. And that makes Layla Miller's "knowing stuff" powers a little hard to use. At the best times, it's like a cheat sheet. Which hand should you play, which hand should you lay down- you already know before the dealer gives you your cards. But what if something happens that isn't in the plan, how do you react then?
Maybe the only way predictive powers would work is if they were of Madame Webb levels. But then again, knowing doesn't mean you can act upon it.
Alright, so we've pretty much determined that playing against superheroes would suck hard. Good thing there aren't really any superhumans around and we can all play in a level field. In the meantime, if you want to get some practice in, I recommend you play for keeps, for real money. I know it isn't always practical to head over to Metro Card Club, so maybe give a online poker sites a try.
The more you play, you'll see that you'll rely less and less on super powers.