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Subject: Taking the luck of a luck-based game rss

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Stuart Garside
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When you're drawing cards to make Poker hands, how on earth do you limit the luck?

What I'm asking is: when you can make a hand from easy (two matching cards) all the way up to a Straight Flush (five cards in sequence), how do you limit that?

I guess adding a fifth suit would make a huge difference, as would adding more numbers (instead of 13 cards, having 15).

It's been bugging me for months and I wanted to get some other feedback.

So thanks in advance
 
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Benj Davis
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You also reduce the luck side of the equation by increasing the number of open cards, and/or the number of cards you draw.
 
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Stephen Williams
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Most versions of poker that I'm familiar with reduce the luck factor by allowing the player to ditch undesired cards and draw replacements one or more times per hand. Some also designate certain cards to be "wild," so that the player effectively decides the value of a few cards.

Then, of course, there's Texas Hold 'Em where all players share 5 of the 7 cards available to them when making their hand, which reduces luck by putting everyone on a mostly even footing.

You could also "control" luck by introducing drafting mechanisms or something.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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You could allow players to draft some or all of the cards in their hand.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Its more a matter of what you do with the random you get. What can you keep, what can you discard? Do you go this route or that?

Simmilar with for example Race for the Galaxy. Adapting to and taking advantage of what you get is a major skill in gameplay.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Zaandam
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Play incredibly often also works. Ranomness tends to a certain average over that many hands; skill remains. Don't underestimate the amount of plays: some econometrists who worked it out for a mid-size Poker website concluded that at some skill levels over 200.000 hands were necessary to disentangle skill from randomness. (Personally I'd be stark raving mad at the end of such a play binge.)
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Gabriel Cohn
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In poker, the luck is mitigated largely through the use of intelligent bidding.

You could also look at the game of pai how poker as a different way to mitigate luck--split 7 cards into a two and a five card hand. Basically, draw more cards, but split them b/t different strategic goals...
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Jeremy Lennert
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You may need to take a more holistic view of your game.

The important thing isn't so much the amount of luck in a process as in the impact of that luck. Specifically, the relative impact of the lucky part compared to the skillful part of the game.

You could have your Poker hands just be 100% random, but still have your game be mostly skillful if the specific hand you get just doesn't have that much impact on the overall outcome of the game.

On the other hand, if making Poker hands is the entire game, then your game is going to be 100% luck no matter how much luck-mitigating you add in. In that case, you're only changing the variance.

In actual Poker, most of the skill comes in the bidding and bluffing. (In some versions you can choose some cards to discard and redraw, but the amount of skill added by that phase is probably pretty small; it's not hard to say "hey, I'm 1 card short of a good hand, let's redraw that one".)

Additionally, since Poker has no ties, anything you do to "even out" the luck in drawing your hand (like adding common cards, wild cards, more cards per player, etc.) has essentially zero impact on the game, because you've still got a 50% chance that your hand is better than his and a 50% chance that it's worse, and it doesn't actually matter how much better or worse your hand is. If you got a fixed payout for making a certain quality of hand, that would matter, but since you're just ranking the hands at the end, it's irrelevant.

So you may need to focus less on "taking luck out" and more on "adding skill in". What decisions can you give the player where skillful players will be able to out-perform unskilled ones?
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Sturv Tafvherd
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District31 wrote:
When you're drawing cards to make Poker hands, how on earth do you limit the luck?

What I'm asking is: when you can make a hand from easy (two matching cards) all the way up to a Straight Flush (five cards in sequence), how do you limit that?

I guess adding a fifth suit would make a huge difference, as would adding more numbers (instead of 13 cards, having 15).

It's been bugging me for months and I wanted to get some other feedback.

So thanks in advance


Look at Doomtown: Reloaded. It's a game where you build your own deck, and aside from the dudes, deeds, actions, and other stuff you put into the deck, each card has a poker suit and value. Coming up with a good poker hand is part of the game, but there are so many ways to manipulate your deck both before and during the game.
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Peter S.
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Looking specifically at the game of poker:

1. Reduce the number of different possible results - think of this as stepping down from a larger die to a smaller one. Using a pinochle deck instead of a poker deck makes pairs and straights more likely. Leaving out an entire suit would make flushes more likely.

2. Increase the number of draws - think of this as rerolling a die. Any type of "draw X keep (X-n)" gives additional chances to get cards that compliment each other. Playing popular seven-card rather than five-card poker games is effectively "draw 7 keep the best 5".

3. Change the scoring - poker highly values some very rare sets of cards (e.g., straight flushes) and places no value on some common sets of cards (e.g., all evens, three-card straights, etc.). Changing the scoring to recognize more common configurations of cards (or place a higher value on them) makes it more likely that some sort of score is achieved, and ignoring rarer combinations makes long-odds victories less likely. Razz, for example, ignores straights and flushes, and the goal is to avoid the rarer sets of cards, meaning that the odds of receiving a valuable hand is higher and the overall spread of possible values is lower.

4. Play multiple hands - think of this as keeping a running tally while rolling dice. By playing multiple hands with a running score, the law of large numbers can exert a moderating influence. The repeat hands in Cribbage mean that a single great or terrible hand has a more muted influence on the overall outcome of the game.

5. Add wild cards - cards that can count or sub for multiple values are straightforwardly more likely to provide or complete a valuable set. Note that wild cards can be limited: "Aces wild" versus "Aces can count as any face card" versus "Aces are considered any suit" can tailor exactly how the overall probability of completing a given set is affected.

6. Show more information - people will perceive a game to be less random if the available information allows them to mentally trim the overall possibility space down. In Texas Hold'Em, seeing three of the five cards that will be used for a hand immediately rules out certain combinations and makes it clear which others are more or less likely. Thus, while the odds of a given poker hand occurring hasn't changed, the feel of winning or losing being determined by random chance is diminished.
 
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Dimitri Sirenko
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District31 wrote:
When you're drawing cards to make Poker hands, how on earth do you limit the luck?

What I'm asking is: when you can make a hand from easy (two matching cards) all the way up to a Straight Flush (five cards in sequence), how do you limit that?

I guess adding a fifth suit would make a huge difference, as would adding more numbers (instead of 13 cards, having 15).

It's been bugging me for months and I wanted to get some other feedback.

So thanks in advance


well if you think of luck as a probability that someone will draw better cards than you from the same deck after you already drew yours, there is an over the top idea for you:
create a deck of cards for each player. Each deck will be identical and so the overall balance will be equal among everyone. Of course in that case you face other challenges like how do you deal with equal hands or the amount of cards you end up with in the game box. But i feel that this could be a ridiculous option for you to ponder about. You never know sometimes the most drastic weird thing can actually work the best if implemented properly.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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3CreativeMinds wrote:
create a deck of cards for each player. Each deck will be identical and so the overall balance will be equal among everyone.

That is not how Poker hands work. If we each go through a regular 52-card deck 5 cards at a time, there is no guarantee that you will get 3-of-a-kind the same number of times that I do.
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Dimitri Sirenko
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Antistone wrote:
3CreativeMinds wrote:
create a deck of cards for each player. Each deck will be identical and so the overall balance will be equal among everyone.

That is not how Poker hands work. If we each go through a regular 52-card deck 5 cards at a time, there is no guarantee that you will get 3-of-a-kind the same number of times that I do.


Sure there is no guarantee but it offers the same chances of getting that hand regardless of what you already have in your hand. I am well aware how poker hands work and that what I mentioned is not poker technically.

I mean whats the point of the OP question then? to just design another poker game with a slight variation to it? I dont really understand that. My understanding of the OP's question is that he is relating his board game mechanic to poker. If thats not the case then the question is: why try to make a poker game that supposedly invloves less luck? Poker itself already is a perfectly designed game (specifically talking about Holdem) and there is no need to redesign it to make it less random. The game itself already largely depends on skill. Sure luck is involved but honestly 99.9% of card games are luck oriented one way or another.
 
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Stuart Garside
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Thanks to everyone who replied. So useful.

I think it's interesting how people feel about luck-based games. I like certain games with lots of luck, but as a very unlucky person, I know how annoying it can be.

So I think the fairest games are skill-based - so mitigating the luck in games I develop is important

Some great food for thought here.
 
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