Weird History

What Historical Figure Would You Bet On In A Poker Game? 

Danielle Dauenhauer
Updated October 13, 2018 1.4k votes 471 voters 3.5k views 8 items

List Rules Vote for the historical figure from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure you think would prevail in a poker tourney. If you think there's additional elements about the figures to consider, add it in the comments so it can be factored into the odds

Because there's nothing better for you to do at work today (besides play online poker), now seems like the perfect time to discuss how historical figures might fare in a WSOP tournament style. To get a little more specific, how the historical figures Bill & Ted collect in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure would fare in a poker tournament.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bill & Ted (how dare you), they are a couple of slackers who travel through time in a phone booth to assemble a dream team of historical figures to aid them in their final oral presentation for their history class. Along the way, they encounter some of the most important historical figures of all time and then unleash them into the unsuspecting city of San Dimas where they cause general havoc among the present-day citizens.

Why Bill & Ted, you may ask. Well, positing how historical figures would fare playing poker seemed like an awesome idea and the majority of people who seemed really cool to pit against each other were already acquainted through the Bill & Ted universe, hence the idea to put them all at a Texas Hold 'Em table and see what happened once the cards flew.

For the sake of creating odds, some criteria we applied to the players, mainly that even though poker wasn't played in a modern-day style until the early 1800's in the U.S., that all the players would have a working knowledge of the game and some of the strategy involved. To be fair, the exact origins of the game are largely unknown with theories of its creation possibly traced to China c. 900 A.D. and to the French game "Poque" in the 15th century. Point is, all these competitors, for the sake of the poker tournament, would know how to play seven card Texas Hold 'Em.
Sigmund Freud is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list What Historical Figure Would You Bet On In A Poker Game?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

Notable as: the father of modern psychiatry

Potential Pros:
- Can effortlessly read everyone at the table and will know when people are bluffing
- A man of science, he'll likely play the odds successfully
- Probably bluffs like a champ

Potential Cons:
- Seems like he'd engage in a lot of table talk. Rude?
- Do snooty, intellectual types really take time away from books and acts of derision to play a lot of poker?
- Might be conservative with betting and miss out on big pot opportunities

Odds: 2-1
Agree or disagree?

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Billy the Kid is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list What Historical Figure Would You Bet On In A Poker Game?
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License
Billy the Kid

Notable As: Gun slinger, outlaw, general bad ass

Potential Pros:
- Dude is from the Old West where poker was THE thing. Literally, poker the way it's played in its modern form was invented on the river boats of Louisiana and the bars of Old West towns like Deadwood and Tombstone
- He killed his first man when he was 15, so the other players might want to avoid being on his bad side by winning 
- Probably excellent at cheating

Potential Cons:
- Professional killers can be hotheaded; might push in at the wrong time
- The literacy and education rate at the time was low, so he may not have full command of the odds

Odds: 5-2
Agree or disagree?
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list What Historical Figure Would You Bet On In A Poker Game?
Photo:  WikiMedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons /Public Domain

Notable as: one of the finest American Presidents of all time

Potential Pros:
- He was a great decision maker who wasn't afraid to take a chance on something he believed in
- Able to quickly and efficiently weigh the pros and cons of a hand (knows when to hold 'em, knows when to fold 'em)
- Had a commanding presence and a piercing stare that would greatly enhance his ability to bluff if not for the fact that...

Potential Cons:
- He was known as HONEST Abe. How can a guy known as Honest Abe possibly bluff? Or maybe that's just what he wants you to think...

Odds: 8-1
Agree or disagree?

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Socrates is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list What Historical Figure Would You Bet On In A Poker Game?
Photo: flickr/CC0

Notable as: one of the founders of Western philosophy

Potential Pros: 
- He's a thinker, which means he's not going to make any rash decisions when it comes to his cards
- Pioneered the concepts of irony and the scope of knowledge. So not only can he bluff well by throwing some shade at the other players, he knows that there's only so much he can know about what he and the other players know (about cards, at least)

Potential Cons:
- Thinking too much can hurt your chances of bluffing and tell your opponents a lot about your cards. It can also lead to folding or pushing in when the time's not right

Odds: 40-1
Agree or disagree?

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