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Old 12-27-2014, 11:54 PM   #31
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

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Originally Posted by mlangsdorf View Post
Is there any reason that your TL1 poker players couldn't use cards made from barkcloth, leather, or papyrus? Canonically, those are all TL1 media.
Perhaps for solitaire or some kind of fortune-telling game, but in a competetive game with cards you want the cards to be free of marks. That includes the "marks" that arise from natural variation in pieces of bark, and so forth.
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Old 12-27-2014, 11:57 PM   #32
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

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The mathematics to do that — probability theory and combinatorics — only goes back to the 16th Century. But Poker would still be playable if the order of the hands were different, provided perhaps that it were not too far out of whack, which experience would show. After all, the rank of the hands is determined by their probability in a five-card sample with no draw and no wild cards, and it doesn't matter that a discard and draw is much more likely to improve some failed scoring hands than others.
Could one posit that such a game would have evolved over time, as the players found certain combinatins to be much rarer, or much more common, than what everyone would intuitive expect, and so re-ranked them by slow consensus? I mean long before the 16th century.
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Old 12-28-2014, 12:04 AM   #33
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To get the equivalents of Doc Holliday and professional riverboat gamblers (which IMHO is the thing that sets poker in the old west apart from say dicing in historical TL1 societies in a world building sense) it needs to have a skill component (so that professional gamblers can expect to win over the long run -- say at the end of a month) but also luck based element (so that casual players can hope to win over a few games at one evening).
I think that it specifically needs a bluffing element too. Active bluffing, supression of one's "tells" (float to WIL?), paying attention (float to PER?) to the "tells" of other players.

Much of what makes poker poker is that you mislead the other playes into assuming you have a much worse, or somes much better, hand than you actually have. Because you don't really win anything on a royal straight flush if all the other players fold immediately. You need to get them to put coins into the pot, and they won't do that if they're sure they'd just be giving those coins to you.

In fact, I'd assume that most players, except the very best, tend to not win anything at all on a royal straight flush, because they cannot keep from telegraphing to the other players that they have a really good hand. With "tells", general enthusiasm not properly veiled, or overly enthusiastic betting. A hand that isn't the very best possible probably tends to yield a higher win.

(All of that posits rational opponents, of course. Most likely people were more superstitious, more likely to believe in personal luck, at TL3 than at TL5, and even more so at the OP's TL1. But, then again, I'm not really sure if even very religious people would continue throwing vast amounts of money at high-stakes gambling if they kept losing.)
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:46 AM   #34
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

Interesting contributions all. I'll meditate over this.
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Old 12-28-2014, 06:52 AM   #35
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Interesting contributions all. I'll meditate over this.
I wrote a post on Usenet, in rec.games.design, very long ago, about my vague ideas for a medieval poker-style dice game. It was not well recieved. Apparently there were some serious gameplay design flaws. But if one of you can manage to dig it up, it might be a starting point for something better.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:13 PM   #36
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

I'll probably use wood plaques and some kind of poker-like play. And an Esoteric version for gathering mana for ritual path magic.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:25 PM   #37
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

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Bah, humbug! This is Sword and Sorcery, not the History Channel. :)
If it was the History Channel then there would be aliens.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:27 PM   #38
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If it was the History Channel then there would be aliens.
Or Nazis. It seems that every time I turn on the History Channel, they're showing a documentary about WWII.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:32 PM   #39
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

I agree that card-like substitutes such as wood, leather, leaves etc. will suffer problems with unintentional markings and I think carved or baked tiles would be better to produce a uniform back.

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In fact, I'd assume that most players, except the very best, tend to not win anything at all on a royal straight flush, because they cannot keep from telegraphing to the other players that they have a really good hand. With "tells", general enthusiasm not properly veiled, or overly enthusiastic betting. A hand that isn't the very best possible probably tends to yield a higher win.
People overestimate the importance of tells in poker. Most people do not produce reliable tells and most people play the way they want to play, regardless of tells. It's also relatively easy to learn how not to produce visible tells.

The problem with winning a lot with a very strong hand is more that you need someone else to have a great hand (or be really bad at poker) and that usually isn't the case.

Straight flushes are actually a decent hand to have to get paid off because they are so rare that the other player will discount the likelihood that you have one. Also in Texas Hold Em at least it means the board is such that someone else can have a (normal) flush and therefore will pay you off.

Quads (with a pair in your hand) mean the board is probably quite "dry", i.e. doesn't connect will with anyone else's cards. You will almost certainly win the hand but unless they have a full house, you likely won't stack them.

Full houses suffer the same problem as quads, as the board is paired.

Flushes are relatively easy to detect since there must three or more cards of the same suit on the board.

Straights are actually a good hand to get paid in full since they can be difficult to detect.

Sets are strong and often hard to detect but vulnerable to stronger hands of course.

The above discussion refers to Texas Hold Em, other variants of poker provide less or no information about your opponents' possible holdings.

Anyway, sick bluffs and soul reading are elements of poker that are greatly overestimated in the public mind. Learning to do relatively simple but tedious mathematical calculations routinely during the game, careful observation of what cards players turn up with at the river and long, boring post-game analysis are much more important.

The main "tell" is how people play in given situations, since they tend to do the same kind of thing too often, for example betting small with big hands to keep opponents in and betting big with bluffs to drive people away (this is generally bad but common).

Last edited by mr beer; 12-29-2014 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:08 PM   #40
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Default Re: Can you have something similar to poker in a TL 1 setting

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Anyway, sick bluffs and soul reading are elements of poker that are greatly overestimated in the public mind. Learning to do relatively simple but tedious mathematical calculations routinely during the game, careful observation of what cards players turn up with at the river and long, boring post-game analysis are much more important.
And since the necessary mathematics is a product of the nineteenth century, with the very idea of mathematical probability being unknown before Pascal in the seventeenth, the ... algorithmic side of poker would be much less important in such a setting than it is in movies.
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