Keeping It Simple: A Guide to Round Table Poker
Have you ever tried to play Round Table Poker, only to give up because it was too hard? Never fear - this guide will show you an easy strategy that can earn you a nice new trophy for your lookup!
Since Round Table Poker is based on playing a fixed number of hands instead of elimination, it is even more important to have a good strategy. I am not claiming that mine is the best strategy; in fact, I'm sure there are far better ones out there. It will not, for example, help you to get a gold, silver, or bronze trophy. The aim of this strategy is solely to guide you towards getting the Runner's Up medal with the least amount of work, stress, and neopoints spent. You won't even have to interpret facial expressions or calculate the odds of winning. Sound good so far? Then let's continue!
Hand - the cards you are holding
Pot - refers to the amount of chips that can be won from the current round, and is made up of the ante and any player bets
Chips - the 'currency' of the game
Stack - how many chips you have
Ante - the 10 NP that is automatically deducted from each players' stack at the start of each hand, and added to the pot
Check - to progress the round without betting (only possible if no one bets before you)
Call - to match the current bet
Bet - to add more chips to the pot
Raise - to counter the previous bet with a larger one
Fold - to concede the current round
Discard - the stage after the first round of betting is completed, where each player can replace up to four of the cards in their hand with new ones
Poker Hands: From Worst to Best
High Card - no combinations
Pair - two cards that have the same number
Two Pair - similar to the previous hand, except there are two sets of two numbers
Three of a Kind - three cards that have the same number
Straight - all five cards follow each other numerically (e.g. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Flush - all five cards are the same suit
Full House - a pair + three of a kind in the same hand
Four of a Kind - four cards that have the same number
Straight Flush - all five cards follow each other numerically, in the same suit
Royal Flush - when a straight flush uses the numbers Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten sequentially
Believe me, I prefer to take risks when it comes to poker. But Round Table Poker is an exception, because you're not trying to rob everyone else blind; you're just trying to get the most chips before the end of the last round. While it is always nice to be miles ahead of everyone else, the reality is that such a strategy is doomed for failure. Be realistic when assessing your hand. Also, consider how aggressively the opponents are betting. If your hand isn't really that great, then it is best to get out of there before you waste your stack.
Pick your battles carefully. Even if you have a really fantastic hand, there is a chance that one of your opponents has a better one (unless you have a Royal Flush, of course). Sometimes you will go through tournaments where you get absolutely no good hands. That's just the nature of luck/chance games. If you play conservatively, you will have a much better chance of recovering the chips you lost to the ante, and turning a profit in the long run.
Reading the Opponent
For the purposes of Round Table Poker, I recommend ignoring the other players' facial expressions. The correlation between displayed emotion and strength of hand is next to non-existent, with only a miniscule improvement in congruence immediately after the deal and the discard. As the tournament level increases, the disparity seems to increase even further. I have seen some very strange instances that demonstrate this, including a player who did not bet even though they had a straight flush! O_o
Round Table Poker isn't a no-limits game, meaning that you can't just push all your chips into the centre to scare everyone away. Your bets are limited to 10 NP after the deal, and it can only cost you up to 40 NP to follow the betting (before the discard). After the discard, the maximum amount a bet can be raised to is 80 NP. It may not seem like much, but remember that your opponents are thinking the same thing. A 10 NP bet is unlikely to scare people off, but it is likely to extract value.
If I have a hand that is two pairs or better, I will place a value bet straight away. It's unlikely to scare any of the opponents away because it's small enough to be unthreatening, and it can add another 50 - 100 NP to the pot. If neither of the pairs is above an 8, I tend to play it more cautiously and only bet once.
If your opponent raises, it generally means that they have a formidable hand. Most of the time, I have found that they have at least Three of a Kind. If it's the first round and you have a pair or better, there isn't too much harm in following the action until the discard. Excessive raising in the second round of betting (say, in the 60 NP range) usually means that you should fold unless you're really confident about your chances of winning. Don't let a couple of little bets scare you away (unless you have a terrible hand), but don't waste your chips on a losing battle either.
The discard allows you to exchange up to four of your five cards for new ones from the deck. This is why I recommend staying in the game at least until this point, even if you have no combinations. Poker is a luck/chance game, and discarding four cards could give you an infinitely better hand! I ended up upgrading my hand to four of a kind one time, when my previous hand had been a high card. It won't always work out, but you do at least get a good second chance.
If it's possible to check instead, then check. Even if you think you have nothing, there's no harm in getting a free ride to the reveal. It is possible to win with a high card, if the other players only have high cards as well. The chances of this happening are extremely low, though, so do not try to bluff your way to a bigger pot. If they really have nothing, they'll fold and you won't get any added value. If they're trying to lure you in, you're just going to lose valuable chips from your stack. Remember: there's no shame in folding, so play it smart.
The Final Round
With a bit of luck, you will already be in the lead by the time the final round begins. If this is the case, it can be tempting to play the last hand, especially if it's a good one. Restrain yourself!
If you are behind, or barely holding onto the lead, then it is time to forgo the conservative facade and bet/raise like a madman (or madwoman) at every opportunity. It's the last hand, and any other action is choosing to lose. You may very well end up with nothing, but at least you will have gone down fighting. Conversely, you may end up winning a large pot and that awesome trophy after all!
Please note that there is also a sixth round, which can get you onto the high score table, but this requires a riskier strategy that goes beyond the scope of this guide.
Completing Round 1: 450 NP
Completing Round 2: 1500 NP
Completing Round 3: 3000 NP
Completing Round 4: 7500 NP
Completing Round 5: 15,000 NP + Runner's Up Medal
Round Table Poker is a great game, and it's a shame that people are scared off by the numbers side of things. On the whole, I have not lost any NP by using this strategy and attaining the Runners Up medal was painless. Hopefully this easy guide will inspire you to give it a go when you have some spare time on the site. Best of luck!
Disclaimer: The author will not be held responsible for any neopoints lost while playing this game. The strategy detailed does not guarantee a win, and should be undertaken at your own discretion.