Balatro: A Beginner’s Guide

This is a full guide to the game, featuring various tips, descriptions, and crucial information.


Balatro is a roguelite card game that combines deck-building with poker mechanics. Your objective is to defeat enemy blinds by playing strategic poker hands and earning chips. Customize your deck with playing card upgrades, acquire Jokers to enhance each hand, and uncover exciting synergies to win!

Gameplay Rules
In Balatro gameplay, there are no distinct stages; instead, each run consists of multiple rounds of Boss Blinds that must be defeated by reaching a specific score through playing various poker hands.

There are 15 different game modes (decks), and each of them has 8 difficulty levels.

Each game is random, but there is also the option to play on a seeded run by inputting a custom seed. The seed predeterminedly determines all the boss blinds and shop options available in that run. However, this disables the discovery of new items from the collection, and all statistics are disregarded.

Between each round, you can purchase new cards and abilities from an in-game shop, using money earned by playing each round efficiently.

Balatro operates on a straightforward concept – each poker hand is assigned a point score and a corresponding multiplier. You receive a hand, get the opportunity to discard up to five cards at once, and then aim to achieve the highest possible points total. There are no direct opponents, only escalating points targets that you strive to surpass (though there are bosses introducing additional, often challenging, mechanics to navigate). The setup is simple and elegant.

The key to understanding Balatro

The core concept of Balatro lies in recognizing that every addition to your deck isn’t a form of cheating; rather, it’s a way to fundamentally alter how poker operates. The most evident among these tools are the Jokers, which exist independently from your deck and provide 150 distinct methods to modify the behavior of your other cards. These alterations range from buffing specific suits to earning extra currency and introducing truly unpredictable abilities.

However, beyond Jokers, there are avenues to incorporate additional abilities into your entire deck, amplify the strength of certain hand types, add extra cards to your lineup, eliminate or modify suits, and much more. It might feel overwhelming initially, but as you grasp the multitude of variables and their interactions, you realize that, in Balatro’s hands, the game of poker becomes a mutable and mercurial entity.

I’ve constructed decks where a simple Pair holds more power than a Straight Flush. I’ve crafted decks that alter the way straights function and enable me to create wild combos more frequently. I’ve played around with decks, discovering valid poker hands in this game that don’t even exist in the real life game: Five of a Kind, Flush House, and others.

This isn’t a game about adhering to rules for success; it’s about altering the rules to redefine what success means. I’ve already achieved point scores I didn’t think were possible when I started playing.
‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ (In the picture on the right, that’s me playing Balatro.)

Basic Tips #1

1. Right Click

If you’ve selected several cards and then changed your mind you can right click to quickly and easily deselect all cards. (You won’t believe how many players don’t know about it!)

2. Graphic settings

If you have trouble telling apart card suits you can turn on High Contrast Cards setting changing the look of your cards to make them more distinct.

You can also reduce the screen shake and CRT Bloom if they are bothering you. (If I’m honest, I have no idea why CRT Bloom exists; playing with it set to anything other than 0 is torture.)

3. Reset

If your run is a total failure, and you want to start over, you don’t have to go back to the main menu. Just hold down the R key and you will immediately start a new game.

4. Viewing hidden cards using tarot or spectral cards

When you use a tarot card, an animation plays that flips the card. Many bosses present you with face down cards, so if you lower the animation speed and then add an enhancement or change the suit of a face down card, you can peek at what it is for valuable information.

5. Another way to see hidden cards

If only some cards in your deck are hidden, you can use Hand Sort by alternating between Rank and Suit. By observing how the cards shuffle, you can often easily recognize their suit or rank or determine them with a high probability.

6. Hand can become “discard”

If you’ve already used all your discards and are only a few cards away from creating a great combination in your hand, you can sacrifice a Hand by selecting only weak cards (probably playing a High Card or some other garbage hand). However, remember to calculate your odds and probabilities carefully; sometimes, it’s not worth the risk.

7. Math is your friend

You have plenty of time, and at any moment, you can carefully review which cards are left in your deck, which suit is the most abundant, whether there are many face cards left, and so on. Do simple calculations, calculate probabilities. Check if it’s worth playing two good hands or if you can win the entire round in one move.

Pay attention to what’s remaining in your deck when discarding cards so that you don’t take unnecessary risks. For example, if you have 4 Hearts and are hoping for a flush, check your deck before you discard to see how many of each suit is left, to see if it’s a reliable bet.


Play around with this card whenever you are in the menu.

9. Balance of Jokers

Making sure you have a good balance of Jokers is crucial. Meaning having atleast one Chips, one +Mult, and one X-Mult Joker. Relying solely on chips or exclusively on all Mult Jokers can be detrimental to a run.

10. Multiplier Cards

This sounds obvious but is worth stating. Position your Multiplier Jokers to the far right of your list and your regular multiple cards to the left.

11. Don’t overlook your economy

Make sure you’re collecting interest and generating cash through jokers/enhanced cards as much as possible. Cash is super powerful as it allows you to finely tune your deck in the shops. Don’t be afraid to skip shops.

12. Become a Hermit

Always buy Tarot card Packs when you have 15 gold or more, as The Hermit can double your gold up to 20 at any time, and The Temperance can give you the sell value of all your Jokers.

13. Gold making Jokers

Especially early, try to focus on getting money. Take Jokers that give increase your gold, and trigger them as much as possible (e.g., cloud 9 gives you gold for every 9 in your deck). Next sell Jokers that are only useful for making money once your build is strong enough, and replace them with scoring-related jokers.

14. Reroll the Shop

Don’t be afraid to reroll the shop. Once you have a lot of money, a reroll is worth it. It gets more expensive each time but resets after a new round.

15. A slight increase in the chance of obtaining consumable items

Jokers and consumables can only appear once – so if you already have, for example, the Greedy Joker, it won’t appear in the shop until you decide to sell or destroy it. This can be put to use though if you’re looking for a Tarot, Planet or Spectral card, hold on to some different ones in your slots. This way if you open a booster pack, the ones you already holding will not appear.

Basic Tips #2

7. How to almost always win the first round in 1 hand

The rules may vary in some decks, but this method will work almost every time. Assuming you haven’t used any skips, your first round involves scoring 300 points without any Jokers and with all poker hands at the first level. How to achieve this in only 1 hand?
The best way is Flush, which has 35 Chips and 4 Mult. It’s easy to see that 300 / 4 – 35 = 40. So, you need to create a Poker Hand with the same suit worth equal to or greater than 40 Chips.
You can use all your discards in the process, making it successful almost every time. And if it doesn’t work out, you can easily reset the game. It’s best if you try to get 2-3 face cards with values of 10 Chips each, and the last card must complement the second-to-last one so that the total adds up to 10 or more. It’s easy to master and quick to apply, allowing you to win the first round in just one hand within 5-10 seconds.

Winning the first round in one hand is very important; it’s the first shop visit with 10 gold instead of 9, giving you a further advantage of an extra coin (2×5 or 5+ if you spend something in the shop).

12. Check the Run Info

You can always assess the Tags and Boss Blinds that await you, and tailor your strategy accordingly.

10. Playing simpler hands is completely fine

You don’t always have to aim for the most intricate combinations. Keep in mind that you cannot endlessly discard your cards. Evaluate your chances accurately, sometimes it’s better to lose 1$ than the entire run.

11. Skip Blind for more Money

Calculate how much money you can potentially gain in the round and compare it with what Tag offers you (Handy, Garbage, Investment Tag). Sometimes, it’s worth playing a slightly more challenging blind right away in exchange for much more cash.

15. Always have a Back-Up plan

Build up more than one type of hand if possible, for example, investing in both a Full House and Three or Four of a Kind simultaneously. If you only focus on one hand type, specific boss matchups can counter you and prematurely end your run. Always have a contingency plan.


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