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  • Writer's pictureLiv

Navigating Balatro: A Detailed Exploration

Join Liv, co-host of The Top 10ers Show on Youtube, as she slings some cards and breaks down Balatro!

Game: Balatro

Developer: LocalThunk

Publisher: Playstack

Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and PC

Playtime: 21 hours and counting 

Why would I play a poker video game if I didn’t know how to play poker to begin with? Well, it’s a roguelike! When a friend told me there was a demo for Balatro on Steam, I felt like trying it out. After 2 hours, I was absolutely hooked on this game.

Each Ante has 3 rounds called Blinds. Each Blind consists of a target score the player has to meet in order to advance to the next Blind. The end of the Ante is known as the Boss Blind which has a target score as well as a random challenge. As you complete more Antes, the Boss Blind becomes more challenging. Sometimes the challenge is easy. Randomly discard 2 cards in the player’s hand after playing a hand. Sometimes the challenge is extremely hard such as setting the target score exorbitantly high. 

In between the Blinds, the player visits the shop where you can make purchases to help your current run. The player can purchase cards that upgrade their playing hand such as increasing the multiplier when playing a Flush. They can also add cards to their deck. Joker cards have a wide variety of uses such as adding multipliers to certain suits, increasing the values of certain cards, etc. When shopping, my strategy is to purchase Jokers that either retrigger card effects or add value to the cards I play most often. I also try to increase the multiplier for my most played hand as well. However, this is a roguelike game, so you never know what will show up in the shop! Finding the best combination for your playstyle is imperative for having success in Balatro.

If you’ve read my previous articles, you know that within the last few years I’ve really enjoyed roguelike games and this game is no different! Rougelike games are so much fun especially when runs are short enough to jump right back in after your most recent failure. “Just one more run…”, I whisper to myself late on a Tuesday night knowing the better decision is to go to bed since I have work in the morning, but I just can’t help myself! 

Maybe if I played one more run then I can get a better combination of cards to go further on my runs. Maybe in the next run I will get lucky. Should I try a different strategy? Focus on playing Straights instead of Two Pairs? “Just one more run and I know I can do it…”, I thought to myself before I finally put Balatro down for the evening.

Before playing Balatro, I could maybe name 2 different types of hands you can play in poker. Now, I know them all! While playing, you can quickly reference the value of each poker hand in case you forget. I really learned a lot about how to play poker, but I don’t think I’ll hit the tables in Las Vegas any time soon.

Balatro has been my most played game that was released in 2024 thus far. Even if you have never played poker before, don’t let this deter you from playing Balatro! You don’t need to be a poker expert to have fun while playing this game. Every run is different which allows for infinite replayability. I have only successfully won 5 times, so clearly I am no master. However, I will keep at it and try to unlock all the achievements! Balatro was my first deck-building game that I have ever played. There are many deck-building games out there, so I think I should look into playing another! 

There are a handful of video games that have released in the first quarter of 2024, but if you’re looking for a short run based game when you’re burnt out from the larger open world games, be sure to pick up Baltro!


About the Author:

Liv writes for Podcasters United and has an upcoming YouTube Channel called The Top 10ers.The Top 10ers is a video game podcast currently in pre-production. Subscribe to the channel now, so you don’t miss out on her upcoming project!


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