You Bet Your Life – Superheroes and Villains With an Ace up Their Sleeves

The list of themes for superheroes goes on and on and on, but there’s one theme that just keeps coming up. We are, of course, talking about gaming. Cards, casinos, betting, the kind of gaming where there’s more than pride and bragging rights on the line. For regular folk, it’s all about the money, but for these superheroes, it’s about life and death.

The Joker

You probably forgot that The Joker is actually a card in a deck of cards, right? The supervillain is such an enigmatic character that he is simply The Joker is his own right, but he was never much of a card player. However, he’s certainly a risk-taker and that fits in nicely with our gaming theme, don’t you think?

Like the joker in a deck of cards, the real-life Joker is the unpredictable one that could destroy all your best-thought-out plans. You may not relate him to gaming, but we do and as our favorite supervillain, he was always going to make this list.

Black Jack

One of the old school heroes, Black Jack first appeared in Zip Comics in the 1940s. He was an honest cop who liked to sit at the tables and enjoy a few hands of cards. But an honest cop back in those days was often a dead cop and so true to form, one of his crooked colleagues on the force betrayed him. Jones was caught and put inside a wall to die.

But Jones had an ace up his sleeve, quite literally. Now, if you know anything about card values and basic strategy of the game, you’ll know that the ace is the card that rules them all in blackjack. But in this case, Jones’ ace didn’t help him win a game but rather get out of the wall alive. He used the card to make an air hole to breathe through and waited for his rescue. He then allowed his enemies to think him dead and became the card-themed Black Jack. What a proper old-time origin story.

The Royal Flush Gang

Time for some epic cheesiness. The Royal Flush Gang first appeared in Justice League of America as a criminal gang. They were card-themed, as you may have guessed, and went by the names of Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten. Originality at its best right there.

The men and women behind the aliases would change from time to time, but the nicknames always remained the same. They were given superpowers by research gone wrong. There were actually several Royal Flush Gangs, but all were equally cheesy.


Roulette is the newest character on this list as she only appeared in JSA Secret Files #2 in 2001. Her real name is Veronica Sinclair and she is a ruthless entrepreneur who runs an illegal cage fighting racket and an underground casino.

Although Roulette has no superpowers of her own, she is highly intelligent and surrounds herself with the latest technology. She has devices that can control the minds of those she captures and she is responsible for the deaths of several superheroes after making them fight to the death in her casino. She’s obviously not a very nice lady and that could be because her grandfather was the Golden Age villain also named Roulette. They do say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and so it seems she’s simply carrying on the family tradition of criminal activity.


Okay, so this one is a real no-brainer. We all know that Gambit is usually associated with the X-Men, but can you believe that he first appeared in 1990? Seems like he’s been around much longer than that! Gambit’s ability to mentally control and manipulate pure kinetic energy makes him the most dangerous person on this list so it’s a good thing he is one of the good guys.

It’s interesting that he chose to use playing cards for his powers because there’s nothing to suggest that it’s an integral part of his origin story. Still, he’s pretty damn cool though and we wish he’d get that movie they were talking about a while back.

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Tom Smith

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