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Subject: Two games of Parlay: A bit weird with two players rss

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Martin Ralya
United States
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Engine Publishing (
The Forgotten Bananas
My wife, Alysia, and I played two games of Parlay last night. We'd only played it once before, so we stuck with the basic version (5-card hands, 2 community cards, discard and draw up to 3 cards once, play to 500 points). Both games combined took us half an hour.

Alysia loves poker and word games, while I love word games and like poker -- Parlay's a pretty good fit for both of us. Alysia liked our first-ever game (months ago), but it didn't leave me with a great impression: I got so-so cards and made poor choices about staying vs. folding, and decided it was too random for my tastes. In the intervening few months, we've been to a couple of fun Texas Hold 'Em nights, and I've gotten more comfortable with poker.

I took an early lead in our first game, with both of us opting to stay more often than not and me winning on the basis of luckier poker hands (including a couple of Full Houses). Alysia caught up in the midgame, beating my decent (Two Pair) poker hands with a Straight and in one case, a bigger Full House. I wound up winning by less than 100 points.

After a couple of wise folds, Alysia took the lead early on in our second game. In the midgame, we both stayed three times in a row and I lost all three hands, and our scores were more or less even. We both did well in word scores, but my endgame poker hands were better, and I wound up winning this game as well.

We had a good time, and I think it's safe to say that Alysia still likes Parlay more than I do. I enjoyed it more this time around, though, and not just because I won -- having played more poker helped a lot. Luck plays a bigger role than I'd like, but the fact that it's a word game makes up for it. I particularly enjoy being forced to decide between holding onto cards for their word value or their poker value, which introduces a pleasant level of tension.

I don't think the stay/fold mechanic works terribly well with only two players. There's a strong incentive to stay with a weaker hand, because if the other player folds you get your bonus(es) by default. I'd like to try Parlay with three or more, and see how it shakes out that way. That said, it still makes a good light game for two, and we'll definitely be breaking it out again.
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