All characters are properties of Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, respectively. I'm just having fun. This was an entry to the 2007 LivewireWorld Writing Contest
"Welcome back to the First Annual Wayne Foundation Charity Poker Tournament. It has been an exciting evening so far, with many of the elite from Gotham, Metropolis, New York City, and beyond donating their time and their wealth to this worthy cause."
"Our final table tonight has some of the biggest names in finance and industry - Emma Frost, Headmistress of the Xavier Institute and former CEO of Frost International; Tony Stark, the billionaire industrialist owner of Stark Industries; and our very own Bruce Wayne, who surely needs no introduction. But we have some surprises as well, some wildcards if you will. Clark Kent, the Pulitzer-winning reporter from the Daily Planet has done remarkably well for someone generally considered so reserved; Peter Parker, a former photojournalist turned schoolteacher; and the young Doreen Green, who was an internet qualifier, going by the screen name "Tippy Toe." While technically underage, Doreen has been sponsored by supermodel Ashley Crawford, and due to the charitable nature of the event, was granted special dispensation to participate."
"Ashley could have given her some better pointers on her gown tonight, Vince. It almost looks like she's got room for a flock of sheep under there… or squirrels, based on that truly lifelike wrap she's wearing."
"But it's not her fashion sense she needs to worry about, but the measly amount of chips she has remaining. Doreen is our short stack with only $10,000 in chips remaining. With blinds at $4000 and $8000, and antes at one thousand, she'll have to push her chips all in soon."
"And there she goes! All in for $10,000 without even looking at her cards!"
"Yeah, I have to admire her pluck there, a blind all in."
* * *
Emma looked around at the players. Parker was, of course, beneath her notice. Attractive enough, certainly, but he was married to that red-headed skank Mary Jane Watson, and it would be an unbearable loss of status to be seen with a lowly teacher. As a member of the Avengers, there would be a certain degree of distinction there, but God she did not care for insects. Mr. Stark, on the other hand, had the prestige, but his reputation as a womanizer meant that she would be the notch on his bedpost, and not vice versa. He also was able to block her telepathy, which irritated her. Clark Kent -a mere reporter, but definitely more than meets the eye. Impressive physique hidden inexpertly under a mundane wardrobe. Her eyes widened slightly when her surface scan revealed that his brain structure was not human. Not mutant – but alien. Very interesting, indeed. Married to the Lane woman, who was a rather dogged journalist herself. And yet Kent was constantly able to scoop her. She pursed her lips in thought. And last, there was Bruce Wayne, the playboy of Gotham. His reputation was clearly undeserved -there was a disciplined mind behind those dark sunglasses, one focused to the point of obsession. Even his thoughts gave nothing away, and she was sure a deeper probe would be detected.
The child, of course, was irrelevant and should never have been allowed to play at the grown up table.
* * *
Tony nodded inwardly as the Extremis virus notified him that the telepathic intrusion had been rebuffed. Emma, up to her old tricks, of course. Still, she was a fine looking woman, and would definitely provide a decent evening's entertainment. She couldn't be that devoted to Summers; after all, what could that dour boy scout know of the desires and demands on the truly elite? He spared a glare at Parker, the gutless traitor. It would be good to take him down. After everything he'd done for that boy and his family… it would be truly satisfying to tear the kid a new one. Judicious use of his new spider-sense jamming capability would help. The reporter had to go down as well. He and his wife had come a little too close to the Atlantis story for his tastes. A bioscan of Kent revealed some aberrations that warranted further investigation; he mentally directed an e-mail back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Bruce Wayne was the closest thing he had to an equal at the table. Both came from wealth, both had taken that wealth to levels that placed them among the upper echelons of humanity. And like himself, Wayne was refreshingly human. Not that he had anything against superhumans, some of his best friends were superhuman, but it was refreshing to be around such a peer.
It was nice to see the kid around. At least she knew the meaning of loyalty, and her little hero worship always did the ego good. And the way she'd taken von Doom out with a Doyle Brunson, a lowly ten-deuce, just because he was being abusive to the other players, and then telling him to shut his evil, evil pie hole… he felt a little proud
* * *
Clark Kent was here solely at Lois's behest. Diana had bet her that poker would prove as much a weakness as kryptonite, and Lois had bet her that he'd make the final table. Not wanting to disappoint his wife, he'd played the affable, bumbling fool even as he reeled in mark after mark, with a shrewd use of the old X-ray vision now and then, just to make sure he wasn't beat on an all in. Glancing around, he quickly realized that the blond was a telepath, and decided to think in Kryptonian to confuse her and make it more difficult for her to read his thoughts. The teacher was also in disguise, judging by the costume beneath his suit. A spider theme, by the look of it. Hard to imagine a superhero using such a totem, but he would reserve judgement. The young girl was far, far out of her league, the poor thing. Very earnest, and it looked very uncomfortable for her to keep that tail under her gown. Stark was being very secretive, and Clark was sure it had something to do with Lois investigating the Atlantis affair. The man seemed to have some sort of techno-organic material in his bones. The question was, of course, how to get that information without blowing his cover.
* * *
Peter also did not want to be there. Why he'd agreed was beyond him, but Mary Jane had been invited, and it was for charity, and she thought it would be fun if they both had a nice, quiet evening of cards. She'd gone broke very early, and he had just quietly accumulated chips. And here he was, cameras everywhere, facing down a whole bunch of rich folks, an award winning jounalist, and a buck-toothed, poorly dressed young woman with a sweet disposition. His spider sense had warned him about bad moves, and he really wanted to take down Stark, the bastard, but with the White Queen to his right, and stone faced Bruce Wayne to his right, he really just wanted to go home with his wife and get out of that monkey suit.
* * *
Doreen was so excited! Sure, it'd been Tippy Toe, using Craig's computer, that had actually won the seat at the table, and who, chittering quietly, had coached her thus far. It was nice to see Mr. Stark, since he was the boss of her all time favorite super hero, Iron Man, and he'd been very encouraging thus far. And all these oh so nice people she was playing against. Well, not Dr. Doom, of course. He was a huge jerk. And that Mr. Luthor was really mean to her when she'd called his bluff and he had to leave the table. Other than that, it was so much fun, and she just knew the gang would be proud of her. Sure, she was down to her last few chips, but sometimes, when the going got tough, the tough got going. And she was determined to be one tough nut to crack, as she popped a macadamia into her mouth.
* * *
Everything was going to plan. He'd approached the event with the same diligence and degree of preparation he brought to everything in his life. He'd even known who would join him at the final table. Determined to wrap things up quickly, he tapped his watch, and circuitry in his sunglasses engaged his psionic scrambler, even as microencapsulated lead was released in the playing cards, rendering them immune to Clark's enhanced vision.
He'd memorized all their betting habits, he knew their tells. How Emma would always raise her left eyebrow two millimeters when she had a premium hand. How Stark's moustache would twitch when he was bluffing. And Clark, well he had been an open book for years. Parker was playing conservatively, except against Tony Stark -he would have surmised there was bad blood there even if Oracle hadn't debriefed him on the whole situation. The rodent-like girl was chittering away to her stole -why Alfred had allowed her in with a real live squirrel wrapped along her shoulders was a mystery, but the dearth of chips in front of her, it was not one that needed exploring.
With all of the publicity surrounding the event, winning the tournament would certainly garner the attention of the Joker, who was planning his own psychotic version of tournament according to several of his informants. "Bruce Wayne" would most certainly be invited to play, at which time he would be able to disrupt the Clown Prince of Gotham's latest scheme.
And winning was, of course, inevitable. After all, he was the G****** Batman.
* * *
"Amazing, Mike! Doreen hits a hockey stick on the river to make a full house, sevens over deuces after pushing her chips in without looking. How lucky is this girl?"
"You're right, Vince. She just quadrupled her chips in one hand, while our host Bruce Wayne takes the side pot - and major bites out of the stacks of Clark Kent, Emma Frost and Tony Stark - by getting them to fold what we could see to be stronger hands.. The lucky one seems to be Peter Parker, who, despite getting a middle pair, mucked his hand."
"Now Clark Kent is our short stack, and Bruce Wayne has a monster lead. If looks could kill, Bruce would be in a very bad way right now."
"You aren't kidding, Clark is shooting death rays with his eyes at Wayne over there. He did not like how he played that hand, not one bit."
* * *
"What an incredible turn of events this is! Peter Parker, who has played so conservatively, has almost seemed disinterested in the game, springs a huge bet on Tony, who moves all in. Tony's been steaming a bit since Bruce took that crippling pot three hands ago, but now he's got a set of Cowboys - three Kings - while Parker is working on an open ended straight draw."
"Here's the river -it's the eight of spades! Peter takes it and Tony Stark has been eliminated from the tournament! With only a three percent chance, our schoolteacher has taken down the billionaire industrialist!"
* * *
"Emma easily takes out Peter's Ace-King nothing with a Queen high diamond flush."
"Diamonds truly are this girl's best friend, aren't they Vince? She hit her hand on the flop, and laid a strong trap for Parker's Big slick, and he was caught in her web. He goes home as our fifth place finisher."
* * *
"The crowd goes quiet, waiting on the river card. Clark just needs to dodge a bullet here to double up against our chip leader, Bruce."
"It's the Ace of Clubs, giving Bruce Wayne two pair and sending the Daily Planet's finest back to Metropolis in fourth place."
"Y'know, Mike, Clark just never got going here at the final table, after flying through the preliminary rounds."
"And now just three remain: Bruce Wayne with nearly twenty million in chips; Emma Frost, at six point seven million; and our internet qualifier Doreen, who has surprised us all by accumulating three point three million."
* * *
"Emma's been needling Doreen for several hands, but it hasn't been working, and now her tournament life is at stake. She has her favorite hand - pocket queens - and has pushed all her chips in! Bruce folds in the small blind, a lousy nine-four. And Doreen is going to call! They flip over their cards, and Doreen sees she is totally dominated here, with her
ten-nine against the monster pair. Here's the flop… King -Jack -Nine! Now Doreen needs either a nine for a set, or a queen to make a straight. And the turn – another Jack!"
"That gives Emma two pair, and removes two of Doreen's outs, as another Lady would give this White Queen a full house. Only the nine of hearts can save her now!"
"And the river card is – the nine! She hit the nine in another miracle last card!"
"Emma isn't being very gracious about it, Vince, as she ends up our third place finisher."
"You could even say she's very frosty, Mike."
"That was bad, even for you."
"But here we are – heads up. David versus Goliath. Doreen Green, a teenager in a rather interesting gown versus Gotham's Golden Boy, Bruce Wayne."
* * *
"I am completely flabbergasted by this shocking turn of events, Vince. Can you believe that this tiny little girl with almost no poker experience has managed to pull out this victory over all these celebrities and poker professionals?"
"I can't even believe she's had a live squirrel on her shoulder this whole time. I wonder if they would try to disqualify her for getting the advice of a rodent"
"Ha ha! Remind me to bring a chinchilla to my next game to see if it helps!"
"Bruce looks completely stunned by this turn of events, I don't think he's blinked since she pulled that Royal Flush to take down his four Aces! Talk about a bad beat!"
"And so we wrap up the First Annual Wayne Foundation Charity Poker Tournament! I'm Vince Van Patten…"
"…And I'm Mike Sexton. May all your cards be live, and your pots be monsters!"
* * *
Two weeks later, on the Gotham Six O'Clock News…
"And another plot by the criminal mastermind, the Joker, was foiled today, as his so-called 'Cut-throat' Poker tournament was disrupted, not by Batman, but by the mutant teenager, Squirrel Girl!"
"Also captured in the process were noted supervillains Bane, Killer Croc, the Penguin, Harley Quinn, the Riddler and Clayface."
"Commissioner Gordon was unavailable for comment…"