Welcome back to Playgroup Evolution, dear readers! This week we’ll be delving into the poker-themed awards that my point system is using. These advanced awards have been triggered a few times and are among some of the more difficult to achieve; however, these awards have been the ones that people remember both the names and what they do most. These are ones that people can immediately recognize and say “Adam got Straight…mark it, Bobby!” which is really awesome for me.

Before we get going on the whole article, let’s go over what awards exist now.

The Poker Awards 


            Currently, we have two awards that would grace the table in the first of the newest Bond films, and one cousin. For simplicity, we’ll just say three. (Yay simplicity!)

  1. Full House: Control a planeswalker, artifact, creature, enchantment, and specialty land during any point in the game. (Permanents with multiple types only count towards one of these, you get to choose, but they don’t count as both).
  2. Straight: Control five creatures with sequential power. (This can only be awarded to each player once per game)
  3. Blackjack: Awarded to the first player to control two creatures whose combined power equals 21.

The Breakdown

            As an aside – getting into the nitty gritty of these awards, I’m pretty sure that I have taken these from different point systems people have created and posted online. At this point, however, I can’t recall which sites and usernames I should be giving credit. If you are someone who inspired these awards, sound off in the comments so I can thank you.


            Back to the analysis. The first award – “Full House” – is probably the most difficult to achieve, but I could be wrong. I’ve heard a few complaints that it is too difficult to achieve because of the planeswalker requirement. I was told, “Not everyone runs planeswalkers.” This is certainly true, but it’s just an award. You don’t NEED it, but getting it can be cool. Plus, there are a lot of ‘walkers available to use now. It doesn’t need to be fantastic, mono-red dropping any Chandra or Koth of the Hammer to go nuts with some stuff on the board can get you a point.

            The second award “Straight” is very straightforward obvious. (Please forgive the terrible pun…I fixed it.)  This award is awesome. Getting this many creatures out in a world where people love Decree of Pain is fantastic. The times it has happened have always involved someone playing around the sweepers and really working for the point. It leads to really good stories

            The final poker award is “Blackjack” with two creatures. This one is a lot more tricky to get than it seems, because people tend to kill really big creatures. A handful of 4-and-5 power creatures can easily earn a sweeper, but having an Eldrazi-sized monster and some more stuff on the board functions like a little cardboard lightning rod for spot removal.

Improvement Time


            It’s time to make some adjustments, and we have the technology! I’ll be doing this section in a little more stream-of-conscious style.  I want to detail and mull over some potential upgrades and changes, so here we go!

  1. Blackjack should be awarded to anyone
  2. Full House should be worth an additional point
  3. Fix language so that each is only awarded once to each player—I cut this part because parenthesis stuff is a little boring to read
  4. Need more poker inspirations
  5. Two Pair: control two creatures with the same name and another two creatures who have the same name. (i.e. two Goblin Kaboomist (one copied) and two Goblin Legionnaire (one cloned))
  6. Flush: Have your devotion to a single color reach 5 or more.
  7. Four of a Kind: Control 4 non-token permanents with the same name
  8. Three of a Kind: Control three creatures that have the exact same ability. (i.e. Keldon Vandal, Uktabi Orangutan, and Vithian Renegades)

I think I’ve done enough spit balling to get the point out (if I was Kaka, this would be a lot more in the time I did it; if I was Sean these would be worded better and require less revisions; if I was Cass I’d pay me for this article series…) Lame jokes out of the way, I want to review my minute of rambling thoughts:

Number 1 is easy; the blackjack point should be awarded to anyone who completes these requirements, just like other poker awards. Doing this for a point is great, but I worry a little that only rewarding the first player to do this will push the point system toward farming and competing for points. Opening it up prevents this problem—yay prevention!

Number 2 is based on the times people have pulled this off. Getting that much stuff on the board at once should be rewarded. Upping this to 2 points will also make it a little more enticing. Most people will hang onto one of the cards that would complete this, to rebuild after the inevitable sweeper. Let’s reward some bold actions!

Number 3 is simple and addresses a larger issue: I need to clean up the language a bit so that most awards are only achievable once per player. Easy peasy solution!

Number 4 is a bit more to think about. Flush is the simplest, so I’ll start there. My store currently has a lot of two-and-three color decks, and rarely do these reach devotion level to activate a god. We do have a few mono-colored decks, but they often use tokens which don’t increase devotion anyway. I think adding this may push the gods a little bit, but with a new set coming out most of the players will be focused on the new wedges, and we probably won’t see a deck running devotion cards for days.

Three of a Kind seems awesome, but I think it has too much bookkeeping. It will also likely reward bad play where you drop a Viridian Shaman with no target just to earn a point. If I can find a way to make this work later, I will. But for now I’ll leave this point alone.

Two Pair has the same problem. Also, dedicated token decks are almost certainly going to get this point for just playing. There is already a token rewarding point. I don’t want to give them too many points.

Four of a Kind is something else entirely. This point would be earned likely by cloning, mind controlling, and Bribery-ing Solemn Simulacrum. Making this happen for 2 points would be pretty good. This one is something I’ll definitely look into trying to use.

The Next Hand

            What do you think? Like the poker theme, or hate it?  Let me know in the comments. Any tips or tricks to making a point system that I’m missing? You know what to do. 

My next article will likely be focused on a new snag the point system encountered at my LGS, so next time I’ll be trying to find a good balance between prize support and keeping the store making a profit. See you then!