Nothing like a game of cards to separate the pirates from the landlubbers! Currently, only one type of poker is being played in the taverns, Tortuga Hold'em (Texas Hold'em).
For a full set of the rules to poker check out the Wikipedia Texas Hold'em Page.
The goal of Poker is to have the best hand, or at least make your opponents think you do and have them drop out.
In Hold’em Poker, some cards are face-up on the table and are combined for the best hand with each player’s own hole or pocket cards (unseen).
Each round, players bet, check (no bet), or call depending on what they have, what they think the others have, or what they want the others to think they have.
Unlike Texas Hold’em, players must continue through all rounds of betting, unless others fold. There is no option for All-In (bet everything you have), unless it is less than the current bet.
- from POTCO
Different locations have different betting amounts. Not all taverns have a poker table.
- Port Royal
- La Bodequita - 10 gold per bet (20 after turn)
- Padres Del Fuego
- Ratskellar - 20 gold per bet (40 after turn)
Playing a Hand
If you’re sitting down to play big money poker (like at Padres Del Fuego), don’t just jump right in – especially at a full table. Keep a low profile at first.
Look at who’s playing. If nearly all the players are in the same guild, do yourself a favor and walk away. Odds are good they’re running the table and you will be the next pigeon plucked (See Crew Cheating).
Sad to say, lower levels are usually the easiest to beat. They aren’t as experienced and likely playing cards just for quests, so they will raise when they have nothing to play and have fewer cheat cards to swap out.
The old adage used to be ‘Play Strong when Weak and Play Weak when Strong” – or “bet a lot when you have crud, and don’t bet when you got good.”
Two problems with that. This is play money, so bluffing won’t work the same way – it still works, just not reliably. And second, if you don’t bet on a good hand, then why play it? Checking each round gets you no money.
You shouldn’t bet unless you have something; either an opening pair of hole cards, an Ace, two face cards, or two sequenced cards (preferably of the same suit). You’re building on something, not praying and fishing.
If you paid the blind, it won’t hurt to check and see the next 3 cards (flop).
If everyone checks, do they have anything? After two rounds of everyone checking, go ahead and bet. If they’re all fishing for a prayer, they’ll likely fold. Should someone call you, then at least money is in the pot and you know something is in play.
Bluffing is an art. Either start early or… when next card shows potential. (Ex. If a 6 of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts and an 8 of Spades is showing, the best you be hiding is three of a kind. So, a bluff likely wouldn’t fly. But, if three cards for a potential straight, flush or a pair are showing, you could be hiding something big.)
If you’re going to bluff, you have to keep it up. You can’t keep raising and raising, then at the last card just check. The jig is up at that point.
People are creatures of habit, especially when they are nervous! Pirates are no different. If a pirate at the table gets a card they need or nothing helpful, they may just tell you.
- Fist Pump - The pirate just got a great hand. Might consider folding.
- Head Scratch - The pirate has a low or no hand at all.
Unlike (we hope) games you play with your friends, you can cheat at cards! If you get a card up your sleeve, you can swap it into your hand! Arrrrrr, now this be fun!!
There is currently two ways to cheat in Tortuga Hold’em: Card Swapping and Crew Chat.
Card Swapping is built into the game. It’s what those cards you keep finding when you kill enemies are for (See Obtaining Cards). When it’s your turn, the game will prompt if you want to swap a card. You only get 1 swap per hand, make it count. Be careful other pirates don't spot ye, or the dealer will report you to the Navy and send you to jail!
What's Up Your Sleeve?
Now, when playing your hand, you can chose to Swap First or Swap Second of your 'hole' card. The card inventory will appear. Make sure you've got a steady hand when you click, otherwise, you might be swapping out for a card you don't even want.
Failing to swap
Swapping a card isn't guaranteed. For some reason, the swap may just not happen. You will not be caught if it fails, but you will lose the card.
If you decide to cheat, do it sparingly. Other players will get suspicious if you take 30 seconds every hand to make a decision.
You shouldn’t risk card swapping for a small money game or hand; save’em until the pot is worth it. It’s hard enough to find’em.
Hold off on card swaps until the last round. Swapping before the flop cards may net you a pair, but if the flop would have given you a perfect flush or straight – you just missed it.
If you do cheat and win big, do yourself a favor and get up from the table, even if to just change seats. If you don’t and get caught later, all that money is gone. The game registers each sitting as separate.
Pay attention to the cards in play! Pulling a cheat card that is on the table will send you right to jail. Also, beware that the other players may try and swap for the same card you are. The most obvious hand could be the one that costs you.
Obtaining Cheat Cards
- Black Mack in the Rowdy Rooster tavern in Port Royal who will give you quest to win 150 gold.
- Shane McGreeny in Port Royal's Royal Anchor bar gives out three different quests, each of whose payoff is a cheat card.
- Killing an enemy may allow you to get one of their cards upon death.
When two or more players crew up together, Katie bar the door. Here is where some real money can be made.
It’s simple enough, crew up with your mate(s) and have a seat.
As the cards are dealt, just tell each other what you have in Crew Chat. Once it’s decided who would have the winning hand, the crew gets to work on the other players.
Each round, members of the circle raise to build up the pot. A little practice will teach when it’s good to call and when to stack’em up. If all other players fold, then the crew just picks who takes that pot and the rest fold.
To keep it moving, use a shorthand version of your cards.
Card Cheat Shorthand
- Ace of Hearts + Three of Spades = AH 3S
- Full House, Three 5’s over Two 7’s = FH 5s/7s or FH57
- Straight to the Queen (8-Q) = Str 8-Q
Poker and Quests
When playing poker quests, you are required to win a certain amount of money playing poker.
Fortunately and unrealistically, any money you lose playing poker does not count against you. As long as you win poker pots totaling the required amount, you will succeed in your quest.
Poker Gold Trade
Currently, In POTCO there are no opportunities to trade with other pirates. However, some have found a semi-legal loophole - by receiving gold in a poker game from fellow pirate(s) in large, agreed upon quantities.
This difficult tactic will let pirates trade gold. To do this, first you must enter a not-so-crowded tavern, preferably one in a quiet ocean server.
Second, sit at the table with other traders and play, raising every time around. If any NPC players call twice, you call, then raise when again when the next card is dealt. Raise twice before the "flop" (the first 3 cards dealt center) and the "turn" (the 4th card dealt center) and the "river" (the 5th card dealt center.) If an NPC is still bidding at that point, they have a very strong hand and you likely will need to start over. When all the NPCs have folded, continue bidding up. Note that betting doubles after the "turn" card, so you can therefore accomplish the transfer twice as fast. (i.e., raising 20 each raise in Ratskellar on the first two rounds, becomes raising 40 each raise, after the "turn" card.)
When the receiver is very low on remaining gold, they must continue to raise (most common error is that they will call.) The person donating can sometimes press "Esc" very quickly if they see this, but is very difficult to catch (after clicking "raise" for 20 minutes.)
When the receiver slows, or the amount to be given is reached, the donor folds or presses "Esc" to give the entire pot to the receiver.
When restarting, it is customary for all present to stand up from the table (press "Esc") to reset the table. The NPC players have a high probability of folding to a bluff, the first two hands at any POTC poker table.
Trading is often performed between crew or guildmates to help newer players buy ships and weapons they normally couldn't afford. The developers are promising a trading feature soon, but for now this is the only way.
So far, Disney has NOT banned any pirates for this practice.