Sunday can’t come fast enough.
We’ve been patiently awaiting Game of Thrones’ return for what feels like an eternity. So long that we got to thinking… what would it be like if the characters we love (and love to hate) played poker?
(Characters sorted by season. Don’t scroll unless you’re ok with spoilers!)
Honorable, dependable and hopelessly trusting, Ned Stark is a classic amateur who thinks the game is easier than it actually is.
He thinks players who bluff are openly disrespecting him, and assumes that if his bets are called by weak or drawing hands, his opponent must have it out for him. Actually, Ned hardly enjoys playing the game. But his closest comrade is a huge fish who often gets drunk and wanders into the gambling pit by himself. Ned is there to prevent such impropriety.
Since he’s incapable of playing anything but premium hands, a cold streak of cards can mean only one thing for Ned: Winter has come.
Family, duty, honor. Though Catelyn possesses such virtues, none translate to her being a good poker player.
In fact, she barely knows that the game exists. Upon hearing about “bluffing,” Catelyn sat down with her children to condemn such a dishonorable tactic. (Ned, likewise, disapproves of “purposeful deception”.)
Cersei plays poorly, but she is on the longest heater in modern history.
She’s so accustomed to being dealt premium hands that she rarely puts effort toward improving her game. Why, when dealt aces or kings every other hand, would one bother learning the math behind intricate turn and river situations? Life is good if you’re a Lannister.
It is said that Cersei once played an intense high stakes heads-up match against Ned Stark, who was unable to overcome her collusion with the dealer.
Dany has loved poker from an early age and has always taken it seriously.
Unfortunately, her older brother was a degenerate who would drain her bankroll before she could move up in stakes (where the other players would respect her raises). Now that he’s gone, Dany is looking to quickly move up with the help of her new bf, Drogo, but it might be a while before she’s ready for the high stakes action in Aegon’s Room.
King Bobby B plays poker to have a good time.
He won a huge tournament years ago, and then got sponsored by the Crown Casino. So, everyone assumes he’s super rich.
In reality, Bobby went busto years ago sports betting with a bookie from Braavos, so now he just gets eager backers for every game he plays in. Yet, he usually gets stacked in the first hour–but who cares?
He’ll rebuy. He’ll drink. Then he’ll harass the massage girls until he can convince one to come back to his room with him.
Drogo has never read a poker book (or any book), but he is the most charismatic guy you’ll ever meet.
He’s a regular in overseas, high-stakes private games frequented by billionaire whales. Although his strategy is about as advanced as a starting hand chart, it’s been good enough to build his bankroll to be one of the biggest outside of Westeros.
Still, Drogo doesn’t get much respect from the other grinders, but he doesn’t mind — he’s richer than any of them. He’s been nagged by a card cut as of late, but he doubts it’ll amount to anything serious.
Littlefinger is a formidable, GTO wizard.
He runs sims and subscribes to training sites so that he’s ready to beat the biggest games in the world whenever they pop up. Few are as committed to the game as Littlefinger, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win even if that means playing dirty, like hiding chips or sandbagging Cersei in order to inflate her confidence.
It’s no secret that Littlefinger is ultra-competitive by nature, and desires the biggest bankroll the world has ever seen.
Varys is a talented poker player, with a mind for strategy unmatched by anyone in Westeros. Nevertheless, he seizes every opportunity to cheat and shoot an angle.
His spies — a.k.a. his “little birds” — stand at just the right height to glimpse an opponent’s hole cards. Varys is undoubtedly good enough to beat the game straight up, but that isn’t his style. If there’s an angle to shoot, he will find it.
Keep scrolling for more characters
Stannis has been around the game for a long time, and has played many a long night. Yet, he still bases his strategy around just a single, old poker book, and refuses to deviate from that strategy — no matter what outside information he’s presented with.
Experienced, Stannis has played every World Series of Poker event for the past decade, but has never come close winning because he refuses to adapt. Of course, he maintains that he’s due for victory, if only the poker gods would look favorably upon him.
As for other players, Stannis respects his brother, Robert, despite being secretly jealous of his success. On the other hand, he has little respect for his younger brother, Renly, whose charm and brash confidence are merely superficial advantages to have in any game.
Renly plays Spin and Go’s instead of big field tournaments because he doesn’t like to sit still for long.
He doesn’t find poker very fun but loves the attention he gets when he wins. He’s the guy who doesn’t really understand how to play poker well, but is a big believer in the ‘fake it til you make it’ mindset.
Joffrey is a total toolbox. Some think he’s going to be the next big poker superstar, but he just couldn’t care less about improving his game.
When at the table, he constantly tries to angleshoot, and he loves to get under his opponent’s skin with unusual moves like donk-betting and random all-ins. These plays work really well on straightforward players (like Ned and Stannis), but Joffrey’s uncle Tyrion sees through the shenanigans.
Consequently, Joffrey usually ends up on massive tilt whenever he plays against Tyrion. And when this happens, Joffrey plays much too loose and is great for the game.
Oh, and he always insists on seeing mucked cards at showdown.
Theon learned how to play poker at a young age. He was quite good, until his home poker room closed, which forced him to switch from playing limit to no-limit.
His no-limit skills finally reached adequacy after some years, but then he began playing PLO, despite having no idea how to play the game correctly. Theon is now the kind of player for whom some opponents might feel pity.
He plays such a weak and passive style, one wonders if he has the right mind for the game. It may be too late to save Theon’s bankroll.
Tyrion is one of the best poker players in Westeros. He’s known as “The god of chips and wine” in some circles, but seldom gets the respect he deserves from other big name players.
Still, despite others’ scorn, Tyrion regularly secures himself a seat at the final table.
Dany was down on her luck after Drogo went busto. Luckily for her, the dealer slipped her 3 jokers — wild cards — to use at any time (which seems a bit unfair to the other players).
Now it’s up to Dany to figure out how and when to use them optimally.
From The Wall to Dorne, Tywin is known to be a straight-up boss. His playing style dated, but that doesn’t stop him from winning.
He fears no one, and can tell if his opponent is bluffing just by looking them in the eye. However, Tywin is aging while the competition is getting fiercer, and it’s tough for an old dog to learn new tricks.
Tywin would love to retire and stake his son, Jaime, but he’s committed to being proposition player for The Crown Casino. Alas, Tywin has to settle for staking his other son, Tyrion, who is as good a drinker as he is a poker player.
Tywin still hops in a game every once in awhile to show some young punk who’s boss.
Everyone assumes Jaime is the absolute best player around, and they should — he wins often, and he looks good doing it.
Lately, however, Jamie has run into a big problem: he just can’t seem to make a hand. Although he still looks good, Jaime seems to have gone so incredibly card dead that he feels helpless and stuck. Really, just one solid hand would do the trick–something that he can work with to build confidence again.
Downswings are one thing, but if Jaime doesn’t get a decent hand soon he’s going to have to think seriously about a career change.
Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane
The only thing The Hound hates more than poker and poker players is honest work.
He took the game seriously for a while, but eventually found it to be repetitive and developed a bit of a drinking problem. Now The Hound only plays occasionally to rebuild a very modest bankroll, which he usually blows on chicken and wine before retreating into obscurity again.
Roose tends to play a very tight style, waiting to take advantage of a spewy move by one of the young, wanna-be Tywin Lannister type players.
He’s has built up a respectable bankroll without attracting too much attention to himself, and from the current looks of things, plans on retiring with an impressive stack of cash.
Robb is like his father, Ned, in many ways, but not all. He strives to be honorable, but is more of a pragmatist.
Robb’s biggest problem is a self-destructive mental block. Every time he runs deep in a tournament, he spews off his stack to the first good player who gives him trouble. His backer, by the way, is one guy you really do not want to cross.
Walder is one guy you really don’t want to cross.
He used to host an all-ages home game at his lakeside residence, but the action dried up after Robb stiffed the cashier and took off for a private game in Volantis.
Oberyn is a player seemingly born for TV poker. He’s talented and very entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, however, he’s remained an obscure player who only shows up for the big tournaments.
As for playing style, he plays an aggressive and impassioned game, and is capable of playing well for long stretches of time. But he can let overconfidence get the best of him, usually choking once he makes the final table.
Oberyn is definitely not someone you’d expect to blind out of a tournament.
Arya is a young and promising talent who has been locked away in an intensive training program — The FacelessMan Lab.
With a few years of training under her belt, she seems ready to take on the world. Her current target is that asshole who busted her brother, Walder Frey, but her shot at him will have to wait as her training is yet to be completed.
Jorah is more of a railbird than a player.
He was once a serious LAG, until his backer, Ned Stark, caught him bluffing deep in a tournament and cut him off for it. Jorah was then hoping to get back in the game by being a serious groupie for Dany, but she cut him off after learning he had shared reads on her with King Bobby B.
As of today, Jorah is busto, out of practice and prefers to deal cards rather than play them.
Ramsay is a serial colluder and angle shooter. He’ll do whatever it takes to gain an unfair edge.
He typically plays in smaller poker rooms to avoid attracting too much attention to himself, but he makes enemies much too fast to stay hidden for long.
Shady habits aside, Ramsey is actually a pretty bad decision maker who is driven by deep-rooted emotions. Maybe the game just isn’t for him.
Sansa has been surrounded by poker players for years, but she doesn’t care much for the game.
(She prefers to focus on lemon flavored desserts and testing hairstyles.)
Sansa is going to have to hit the tables soon, however, if she wants to support herself in the long Winter to come. One can only hope that she has picked up some skills from watching Cersei, Littlefinger and her late parents play the game.
Bran is the tightest player in all of Westeros, but it’s somewhat of a mystery why.
He was gifted with an amazing ability to soul read his opponents, but he also seems to despise attention. And so he folds. And he folds even the strongest hands to small raises.
In fact, Bran will go many hours without playing a single hand! It’s hard not to wonder, when the hell is he going to do something?
Jon has trained with fundamentally sound Westerosi, hyper-aggressive Wildlings and Stannis (who didn’t teach him anything).
He’s also the secret son of the best player in recent history — a player who went busto when Bobby B hit a gutshot during a HU4Rollz match.
Jon is perhaps the most well-rounded player in the game, and he’s put himself in a good position to win all the money.
The Night King
“Hey guys, I hope you didn’t start without me!” the Night King said as he walked in the door. His touch left the doorknob covered in a thick layer of frost, and the linoleum floor became slick.
He quickly noticed that the poker table was covered in crumbs, wine stains and an unconscious Robert Baratheon. But no poker chips. The Night King couldn’t contain his rage. “What the hell — I missed the game again!?”
“It started six hours ago. Again.” replied a drunk, but intelligible Tyrion.
The Night King looked sheepish, but he replied with indignance. “You could’ve waited for me.”
Tyrion rolled his eyes, burped, and then repeated himself for the third straight week “You have but two choices: be here on time, or find a new place to play — I hear George R. R. Martin’s game is running six years late, maybe try that one.”
Who’d We Miss?
There are so many amazing characters in the Game of Thrones universe. Choosing who to include was really tough.
Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below. (We may include them in a future update!)
(If you’re ready to take your poker game to the next level, consider The Upswing Lab — a training course that will help win more money, more often. Click here to learn more.)
Poker player, food expert, and dog dad.