Superheroes – they’re just like us. And just like us, a lot of them like to gamble. It’s a well-known fact about some of our comic-book idols – a few even became online casino game stars – but others keep it better hidden.
Both the Marvel and DC Comics multiverses have plenty of moments where gambling is in the spotlight: Whether a game of chance served to illustrate someone’s character, or it was crucial to a scene tying together a greater story arc, gambling is often a way to make these superhumans seem either more human, or more super. But who were the biggest superhero gamblers, you might ask? Let’s find out!
There’s no better superhero to start this list off than the one using literal playing cards as a weapon. Gambit is one of the many regulars in the X-Men ranks that use energy-based weapons, but while others fire beams of light from their eyes and whatnot, this sassy mutant instead weaponizes his kinetic energy by channeling it to his deck of cards.
As for actual gambling, like several of his fellow mutants, Gambit has played poker on a few occasions, most notably with Wolverine and The Thing. Considering how handy he is with the cards, we wouldn’t mind getting a few poker tips from the guy – as long as he doesn’t pull any of the aces up his sleeves on us.
The Clown Prince of Crime doesn’t shy away from gambling, to no one’s surprise. Aside from flaunting the playing card bearing his likeness, The Joker famously played a round of poker with a group of his fellow villains. In the legendary episode of Batman: The Animated Series, called “Almost Got ‘im,” we see a bunch of supervillains sitting around the poker table in a bar.
While the cards are dealt and the chips flung around the table, each of them recounts the time they were an inch away from finally defeating Gotham’s Bat. While the card game isn’t the main focus of the episode, some interesting details, like the bar’s name – the Stacked Deck Club – really add to the atmosphere.
Of course, Batman manages to break up the gang even in this episode, but let’s not delve into spoiler territory.
The big hunk of walking stone, it turns out, has a penchant for card games. And not just any card game, but the king of them all – poker. In many issues of Fantastic Four and his own comic series, The Thing was shown to be both a fan of the game and a pretty good player.
Not only that – he organized tournaments, too. In fact, the very last issue of The Thing centers around a poker game he put together. The rocky superhero wanted to celebrate the 13th anniversary of Ben Grimm becoming The Thing, sort of a Bar Mitzvah for his alternative form, so he celebrated the best way he knew – by playing poker. Just don’t tell him his giant fingers are bending the cards – you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Okay, we might be going out on a limb here, but hear us out: While the Merc With a Mouth didn’t participate in any gambling himself, he was involved in a bet called the “Dead Pool.” In the 2016 movie, the mercs in Wade’s favorite bar were betting on who would get killed next, with Wade sitting firmly at the top of the list. That’s the explanation for his vigilante name, too – we just hope there’s one just as good for the red spandex outfit.
Aside from that, Deadpool technically gambles with his own immortality whenever he gets blown to bits. He’s fairly lucky, too – comic fans may remember that the profanity-loving fellow regenerated from a drop of blood once, so it’s safe to say he’s got the house edge on this one.
For the second Batman villain on this list, gambling is not about the money. Instead, Harvey Dent – a.k.a. Two-Face – turns every game into one of life and death.
Ever since Dent’s face got disfigured and turned him into one of Batman’s greatest enemies, this attorney-turned-villain flips a coin for every decision. “Heads or tails,” he utters, tossing the coin high up in the air in front of his next victim. Two-Face has famously decided the fates of Jim Gordon and even his own son in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight.
Would you go up against him? After all, you’ve got 50-50 chances of winning.
The genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist running Stark Industries sounds like he would have an interest in all high-stakes things, including casino games, right? Of course he does. Tony Stark never misses a chance to win big.
Stark is basically James Bond when he’s not in his super suit, and that includes a love of gambling, too. His most famous brush with chance was definitely in the 2008 movie Iron Man, aka the feature that started the MCU. In it, Tony Stark lost spectacularly on both craps and roulette, but it was just another day in the life of one of the wealthiest Marvel superheroes.
Speaking of roulette, we need to mention one of the DC ladies that not only loves casino games, but named her supervillain alter ego after one. Her plainclothes name is Veronica Sinclair, the granddaughter of Golden-Age villain Roulette.
First appearing in the JSA Secret Files #2 in 2001, Roulette owned a casino called “The House,” which also served as an arena for staging fights between captured superheroes. Of course, villains can bet on the outcome of each battle. In one of the later issues, Roulette plays cards against Amos Fortune, using cards representing the members of the Justice League of America and the Royal Flush Gang, betting on who could beat who.
Of course, we had to mention another DC villain, whose name is quite literally the Gambler. Also known as Steven Sharpe III, he followed the legacy of his riverboat-gambling grandfather, turning pretty much any situation into a game of chance. In one of his iterations, the Gambler also led the appropriately named Royal Flush Gang and, at one point, used his gambling skills to win a boat which he immediately turned into a weapon.
Ultimately, his gambling habits led to his demise. During one of his many paroles, The Gambler travels to Las Vegas, where he loses himself in casino games. Unfortunately, the games were rigged, and the masked villain took his own life after losing every penny.