View Full Version : Poker hands instead of d20 rolls

2015-05-27, 06:17 PM
By comparing probabilities, I worked out a way to emulate d20 rolls with 7 card poker hands, because dice are oh so boring, and don't need to be shuffled.

Royal Flush
Natural 20, and +30 to the roll, or just autosuccess (comes up one in every 30,000~ rolls)

Straight Flush
Natural 20, and +20 to the roll (one in every 3,500~ rolls)

Four of a Kind
Natural 20, and +10 to the roll (one in every 600~ rolls)

Full House
Natural 20, and +5 to the roll (one in every 38~ rolls)

Natural 20 (one in every 33~ rolls)

19 (about 1 in 20 rolls)

Three of a Kind
18 (about 1 in 20 rolls)

Two Pair
14 (About 1 in 4 rolls)

9 (About half the rolls)

No pair, have a face card
4 (one in 9~ rolls)

No pair, no face card
Natural 1 (one in 15~ rolls)

Average is approximately the same, and chances of hitting 18, 19, and 20 is near identical (important for weapons with crit ranges). Natural 1s come up slightly more often, but very good hands exist.

2015-05-27, 07:26 PM
While this would never see play at my table (D&D, combat especially, is already slow enough as it is), I love it!

2015-05-27, 07:53 PM
Could be awesome for Social Situations or an RP-heavy game.

Alternatively, if you've got an electronic deck that can deal cards at the push of a button and tally results... well. That'd be as fast as a dice roller.

2015-05-27, 09:08 PM
Oh yay, that's probably the first positive feedback I've got in the last 3 threads I've made, and I did not expect it here.

Alternatively, if you've got an electronic deck that can deal cards at the push of a button and tally results... well. That'd be as fast as a dice roller.
True, but at that point its already artificial enough I think I'd just use dice, unless there was a western or card themed character.

I'm more interested in this as a baseline for a system of card manipulation that does more than just numbers, with certain hands powering different abilities and spending time augmenting your hand in battle.

2015-05-27, 09:38 PM
Oh, sure. I'm just thinking of swapping in Tarot for theme. Or even the Pathfinder Harrow deck.

Though I also like the idea of 5 card hands with 2 or more cards dropped and tallied with 21 being a bust. It would basically place advantage as drawing a free card before the play and disadvantage as havong the gm force a blind discard Before the play.

2015-05-28, 01:05 PM
The original version of Deadlands did this for some things and it was neat and flavorful. A bit time consuming compared to simply rolling dice, though.

Bulldog Psion
2015-05-28, 01:13 PM
Sorry, but there's just something about the feel, heft, and tumble of a well-made duodecahedron that cards just can't replace. :smallbiggrin:

2015-05-28, 02:19 PM
I could see 5 card stud for complex tasks, chases, or important social situations. Start with 3 cards (2 up, 1 down), then 2 cards each added over time. Or 7 card, but keep it to 3 rounds - start with 2 down, 1 up, add 2 up, then 1 down and 1 up.

2015-05-28, 02:30 PM
So, I really like the idea of using a poker hand as a resolution mechanic. I'm not fond of directly correlating it to a d20 roll, because you're taking an information-rich result (the poker hand) and "dumbing it down" into an information-shallow result (the die roll).

Compare it like this: with a poker hand, you have...

Five unique cards
Each card has one of four suits, grouped into one of two colors
Each card can have one of thirteen values (or fourteen if you include the Joker)
Four of those ranks are special (the JQKA are non-numerical), and one of the ranks is utterly unique (the Aces)
Cards in a poker hand have relationships to one another, like matching suits/ranks or being in sequence

...and with a d20, you have...a single number. That's it.

Converting one to the other means a lot of busywork and having to remember a lot of details, because each time you want to get the information, you have to get a poker hand and compress all those bits of information down into a single number. To me, that seems cumbersome and a bit wasteful.

Though, the probability spread is really interesting! I'd personally take this and build a system around it.

2015-05-28, 04:02 PM
@Carpe, I completely agree, this was just a first step. I don't see myself taking any further steps in the near future though.

Prince Zahn
2015-05-29, 04:55 PM
This is really a cool idea for a variant rule for many an-intrigue campaign, as I know many players who don't get as much of a kick as I do by simply rolling a die.

I think one of the bigger interesting point about this is that it uses a different skillset and triggers different sensations when having the cards in their hands, making decisions real time, as opposed to seeing your actions as rolling the die rolls and leaving it to fate.

I second a lot of what steampunkette said as well, and add that working with cards instead of dice should emphasize decision making and aiming to reach the best outcome you can with the cards given. Try thinking of decisions you might be able to do in a card game like poker or Blackjack, which could make an outcome more desirable.
For example, Take a poker game like, say, 5-card stud:

You are the player, and your turn is up next. You declare your action. Your cards are dealt as the GM smiles slyly at you. You sweat a bit; you choose what you keepó what you think are your best cards, and discard the rest, and hope that your new cards plus your kept cards will result in a successful hand... Yes! Three of a kind! A triumphant relief that your attack connected, your action successful, or you avoid the horrible event with a lot of luck!

Again, this is very cool - I hope I could help!:smallsmile:

Milo v3
2015-05-31, 09:02 AM
I think this is how my group should handle Profession (Gambler) checks.

2015-05-31, 11:25 AM
I like how well you thought this through. It is a bit slow for actual use but if your group likes it you could use it for special rolls.