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April 29 2008

Of course Mal would win a poker tournament! Poll on io9: "Which Science Fiction Anti-Hero Would Win A Poker Tournament?"

...The 6th option is "Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds from Firefly/Serenity". And, really, with those contenders, I can personally only see it as a contest between Spider Jerusalem of Transmet fame, or Han Solo, of whom Mal is a new and improved model, hence better. ;)

Gambling is one of Han's specialties, so I'd have to give him a slight edge over Mal. But in the whole group, I find it hard to vote against Spider Jerusalem in *any* circumstance. He may have the worst cards, but he's probably got multiple, metaphorical aces up his sleeves. And pant legs. And boots. And glasses. And the sleeve of the guy next to him.
Not on the list but I'd have to go with DC's Batman or Vertigo Comic character, Constantine.

If Bats were in a poker tournament, I assume he would have staked out the room and installed hidden video cameras. While he doesn't always play by the rules, he always wins.

Constantine would just arrange for all the other players to kill each other and he could sit back and win by default.


I guess the circumstances surrounding the game would play a big factor. I mean is it for fun or is someone's life on the line? If we are, in fact, talking about a life or death poker tournament, I'd have to go with dark horse, Vizzini. (never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!)
If you wanted to get uber geeky, you could argue that Han Solo is an expert at playing sabacc, not poker.
Neither Mal nor Han would survive a poker game without a serious bashing because they tried to cheat. They'd be lucky to get out of there alive, leave alone winning.
Feh, Starbuck would beat everyone.
You've got a point, Harridan. Woe to the smuggler who gets caught cheating by Riddick or Aeon Flux.
Um...that's not my fault, honest.

Sorry, regardless.
I was so tempted to pick Spider Jerusalem (My undying love for Transmetropolitan is a matter of Truth and Honor), but 1) I don't think he's really one for poker and 2) how long do you think before he ends the game prematurely with a well-aimed bowel disrupter shot?

I picked Mal, but I agree with alexreager about if John Constantine was on the list. Con-job would wipe the floor with everybody. Plus, I've never seen any of those characters actually successfully play a game of poker, while I know that Constantine plays a mean hand.

Also, why no Battlestar Galactica characters? Someone like Starbuck or Baltar, jeez, even Roslin, would kick ass in a poker tournament.

[ edited by rianeiru on 2008-04-29 01:19 ]
I don't think Mal would make it past the first round.
"Petty" thieving is more his game.
I think Rygel the XVI (Farscape) would make an excellent card player, unless things got a little "rough", in which case he'd fart helium and make a run for it.
Oh, come on. You know I love Mal, but he can't even win a game of Chinese Checkers for cyin out loud! Han would clean house against Mal. (And, yes, Starbuck would kick Han's ass.)
Inara would make a far better poker player than Mal.
Which website can think of the lamest poll topics as incentive for fandom to link to?
Ooh, that'd make a great poll, crossoverman!
Mal is every kind of awesome, of course, but I see Poker as one of the long (long, long) list of things he'd lose at :) Mal's role is that of the rogueish underdog ... we've seen him lose a duel (not technically, but he sure wasn't winning it in any normal sense), lose a war, lose his clothes, lose arguments, lose crew, lose all manner of fights. It simply doesn't seem to be written into his character that he's a "winner" in the traditional sense, rather that he's a guy who loses a lot, but who doesn't give up and who achieves something good out of losing.

I'd say, depending on the episode, he'd lose his shirt playing poker (perhaps literally, for the ladies) and then find a way to steal it back, along with what he was _really_ there for.

[ edited by Ghalev on 2008-04-29 04:38 ]

[ edited by Ghalev on 2008-04-29 04:39 ]
I liked your replicant post, Chris inVirginia.

I'm thinking there's gotta be some Chewbacca love hanging around somewhere--he wins, or he rips everyone's arms off, no?
Jayne would be the same way. There should be a fanfic of Mal, Han, Jayne and Chewy playing poker.
That is about the most random set of characters in the history of randomness. How many of them have actually been seen to play cards at all, ever ?

Of that list, partly cos he's getting no love, Kerr Avon. He's good at maths so he'd definitely have the odds side down and he's also a fairly keen reader of people ('cept for Blake right at the end ;). Add icy calm and a mean poker face and I reckon he'd be pretty good at it.

Mal would apparently lose big but in the course of doing so would probably break even by stealing Alliance sympathisers' wallets while almost getting away with a huge robbery on the floor below. However he made out, he'd have enough to keep flyin'. Which, y'know, is enough ;).

(but yeah, Constantine would "win" in the sense of being the only one to walk away from the table - he's already used a card game murderously when he was in jail. Apart from anything else he's basically the living embodiment of "Cool Hand" Luke/Lloyd Jackson's maxim - "Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand" ;)
Chris inVirginia: me too.

crazygolfa: the visual could look like that old novelty painting of the dogs around the poker table.
Sorry for a double, but if anybody's really interested in SF players there's a great SF novel waiting for you, "The Player of Games" by Iain M. Banks.
Of course Mal would win. If he didn't have the right cards he'd cheat his way to victory. :P Although, I'm not sure about that Riddick fella, he might snap and kill everyone and then technically he'd win.
... a great SF novel waiting for you, "The Player of Games" by Iain M. Banks.

All his Culture books are worth reading but I do like Player, lots of his usual themes plus maybe something about masculinity in there for teasing out. Gurgeh would probably out-play even John Constantine technique wise - JC may still have the lead in "headology" though ;).

There's the games playing segment of Banks' "Walking on Glass" as well - published as mainstream fiction but arguably SF&F.

(Banks is a huge games fan himself and even apparently missed a deadline for his latest non-SF novel - about a family rich through a 'Monopoly' style boardgame - because he was so hooked on 'Civilization 4' ;)
Yoda.

Rather short-sided list.
crazygolfa - Good point. Inara would be great at reading the other players. Actually, I think Shepherd Book and Zoe would also be better than Mal. A heads up match between Inara and the Shepherd would be very interesting.
River would beat everyone with her psychic ability, and if she doesn't Mal could play "Fruity Oaty Bar" so she goes crazy and kills everyone, then steal their money.
Mal'd lose so very badly, it'd be amusing. He can read people pretty well, but he has terrible luck and his skill seems to be more in scraping through than coming out on top of anything.

Inara would make a far better poker player than Mal.

Yep. If Inara and Mal were working together, and he was wise enough to follow her lead when things got tricky, they could probably cheat the entire table pretty soundly. I think he'd mess it up in the end though.
But Inara would probably figure he would and then plan accordingly, she's not daft (not only is she a better reader of people than he is, she's probably got a lot more formal education and so could handle the maths better).

Mal doesn't really strike me as the patient sort either and poker is all about NOT playing a whole lot of hands. I've read professional poker players saying that if you're playing cards for a living and it's not boring then you're doing something wrong ;).

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