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Two words: poker roguelike

A screenshot from Balatro
Image: Playstack

In Casino Royale, James Bond gets a bit of poker advice: You never play your hand. You play the man sitting across from you.

Okay, but what if you just played your hand? What if no one was sitting at the other end of the table? Balatro, a new turn-based card game available on most platforms, takes the mechanics of poker and turns them into the basis of a compelling roguelike, the subgenre of games where each playthrough is a single perilous attempt.

Balatro is a poker game inasmuch as Scrabble is a word game. Knowing the language and probabilities of poker will help you, but ultimately, this is a logic game. There are no bluffs, no pots, just the pure composition of poker hands satisfyingly paired with a thrilling game loop.

This makes B…

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