If you could play poker with anyone, who would it be? Ivey? Dwan? Negreanu? We’ve all had the ‘dream table chat’ before. One of the cool things about poker is that one of your idols might sit at your table.

Outside of some promotion or competition, it’s the only sport where this can happen.

  • But what if we let our minds wander a little further?
  • What if you could play with anyone from history?
  • How about TV and fantasy?
  • What if they didn’t even need to be poker players?

Who’d have you drooling and make your knees tremble more than mile twenty-four of a marathon?

In this 888poker, we'll have some fun with this topic today. We'll look at some fictional and historical figures that might give you a hard time at the poker table.

Let’s get started.

1. Adragon De Mello

Since poker is a skill game, the best players in the world tend to be smart- crazy smart! Especially these days, where studying complex GTO theories is a key component for success.

Generally speaking, the cleverer the person, the tougher they are likely to be at the tables. So, Adragon De Mello is someone you'd want to avoid in a poker board game.

You probably haven't heard of De Mello, but he graduated from university at eleven. His IQ score of 400 is currently the highest ever recorded. This stat dwarfs both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking’s 160 and is almost twice as much as Leonardo da Vinci’s!

There don't seem to be any records of De Mello playing poker, so it's unclear how good he'd be.

But, against someone this smart, any match-up would be a ‘dragon by name, dragon by nature’ situation.

2. Nikola Tesla

Another formidable opponent would be Nikola Tesla. Some of you may be more familiar with the car brand, but Tesla is one of the greatest inventors ever.

In addition to being super-smart, with an IQ of between 160 and 310, Tesla was responsible for many incredible inventions, including wireless lightbulbs and the Tesla Coil.

As an accomplished inventor, Tesla clearly had strong problem-solving skills, which are incredibly useful in poker. His astounding brainpower and flair for mathematics would probably enable him to grasp the idea of modern GTO theory and poker combos

He also had an alarmingly obsessive work rate, sleeping only two hours a day!

Along with his different forms of genius, one of the things that makes Tesla a fascinating addition to this list is his love for gambling. Tesla loved a flurry so much that many sources suggest he lost his tuition fees, leading to being kicked out of university.

5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - Nikola Tesla
5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - Nikola Tesla

While his awful financial management suggests he’d have a wild, Isildur1 style career, he’d be very successful in the intellectual world of modern poker.

It’d be amazing to see such a great mind in action!

3. Bruce Banner

Since we’re talking about obscenely smart people, one person who takes ‘super smart’ to the next level is Bruce Banner. Like the other names we’ve mentioned already,

  • Banner is a certified genius, which would make him as much of a headache to play as anyone.
  • But he also turns into The Incredible Hulk when angered, meaning you’d probably get your head torn off if you sucked out.

He might be able to put in a good word for you with Black Widow. But it’s probably best to let Bruce win a poker hand or two if you see him pulling up a chair at your home game.

5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - Bruce Banner/The Hulk
5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - Bruce Banner/The Hulk

4. Hiro Nakamura

If you’ve seen the TV series Heroes, you’ll be familiar with the adorable Hiro Nakamura character. Like most of the main characters in the series, Hiro has superpowers, allowing him to ‘bend space and time’.

He can teleport, freeze time, and even time travel.

While Hiro doesn’t seem to be the sharpest spade in the deck, that wouldn’t matter too much. His powers would enable him to manipulate any poker cheat sheet in a various ways.

  • He could freeze time, look at your hand, and go back to the past to change a bad decision.
  • Check the future to see a turn or river.
  • Even make your cards change before your very eyes. 

Although he seems like an honest character in the show, we see him cheating a few times, switching cards with a gangster, and rigging a deck mid-deal.

While he’s by no means the smartest name on the list, if he could use his powers, he’d be impossible to beat.

5. Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha)

Ten points to Gryffindor if you recognize this guy’s name. But don’t beat yourself up if not; he’s better known by his pseudonym, ‘The Buddha’.

Along with being incredibly smart, Buddha would be tough to play poker against due to his complete understanding of people.

  • He was a master of the human psyche.
  • He knows how people think, what motivates them, and how to control impulses.

These qualities alone would make him immune to tilting while knowing exactly how to get under your skin and frustrate you into making a few errors.

The Buddha had excellent self-control, too, and could meditate and fast for unbelievable lengths of time. This sense of discipline would lend itself to poker, enabling him to stick to a rigid study schedule and compose himself perfectly at the tables.

Poor discipline wouldn’t destroy him, either, which hinders so many talented players. Instead, he would have the control to consistently bring his A-game, a skill that even the best players in the world struggle with.

5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - The Buddha
5 People You’d Hate to Face at a Poker Table! - The Buddha

The Buddha’s disciplined, philosophical and observant nature would likely make him a formidable poker professional, especially given his high intelligence.

That said, it’s hard to imagine the Buddha at a poker table. Much of his teachings are about eliminating greed, which is why many people play.

Honourable Mention: Stu Ungar

In a list of proteges and superheroes, including an actual poker player might seem vanilla. But Stu Ungar deserves a mention. While he had a troubled personal life, many respected pros vouch for his skill at the table.

Even Phil Hellmuth considered him a ‘phenom’, high praise from someone who is usually so outwardly critical.

And when it came to finding where to play poker in Vegas, it was any casino where Stu wasn’t playing!

Like others here, Ungar had a genius IQ and a photographic memory, but he was also famously ruthless at the tables.

He was a born winner, and while the high IQs of others on the list would help them to crush. Stu Ungar actually did it. He won around $30m before dying early at the age of 45.

With his genius, experience and skill, Stu Ungar would be feared at any table.

So, there we have it - a list of five people you’d hate to play poker against.

Could you find a way to beat any of them? And is there anyone you would fear more?

Dan O’Callaghan is a professional poker player who got his start in the online poker world as danshreddies. He has racked up over $290K in online earnings.