Balatro Guide: Tips and Strategies

Balatro is an abomination. It’s the Frankenstein of roguelike card games, with Poker for brains, and I love it. The seamless and unique integration of roguelike elements into the traditional 52-deck of cards makes this game one of the top hits of 2024 and although the game appears deceptively simple, there is a lot more to it.

Like most deckbuilding games, you will need a dash of luck to win runs; however, you’ll also need to plan ahead. The goal here is to build a deck that consistently scores the highest points possible with every hand and I’ll be sharing some useful beginner-level tips in this Balatro guide on how you can pull it off.

Earn More Cash at the Beginning

Every unused hand gives you $1 when you win a round and cash lets you buy powerful jokers and perks from the shop.

Cashing out

Since it’s easier to win rounds in the early game due to the low score requirements, you should focus on dominating as much as possible. Aim for a flush, straight, or any hand with the highest multi possible.

Play Around Your Jokers

Jokers play a key role in Balatro, so I’ll be discussing it in more detail.

Jokers play a crucial role in Balatro

– Adapt Your Jokers

The game is divided into three stages: early, mid, and late, and some jokers excel at each of them. Early-game jokers focus on giving more chips. Mid-game jokers focus on adding multi to cards and late-game jokers further multiply the multi gained from existing resources. It’s a vicious cycle to keep track of, but as you keep playing, keeping track of Joker’s abilities becomes second nature.

– Arrange Properly

Joker effects trigger from left to right so how you arrange it can impact the end score by a significant margin.

For example, Pareidolia considers all cards as face cards. So to get the most out of other jokers like Sock and Buskin, you’ll have to position Pareidolia before it. This will turn all the cards in your hand into face cards and make them all retrigger.

– Insurance vs Multi Jokers

While most jokers focus on multiplying scores, some can save you from imminent doom. For instance, Mr. Bones prevents death if you’ve managed to score at least 25% of the required chip score and then self-destructs when the effect is triggered.

The insurance jokers may seem cool, but they also affect your overall scoring potential. Therefore, it’s important to think ahead. If you see a powerful boss blind, then you can consider picking up one insurance joker like Mr. Bones or the Luchador. Otherwise, stick to jokers that synergize with your scoring strategy.

Avoid relying on all chips and even all multi-jokers. The golden rule is to have one of each (Chips, X-Mult, and Mult) and decide the rest as the run progresses.

Be Weary of Boss Blinds

Boss blinds are powerful debuffs that can ruin your strategy completely. So, at the start of every run, make sure not to formulate a strategy around cards that will be affected by the boss.

Choosing your next blind

For instance, if the boss blinds debuffs all spade cards, do not pick any jokers that buff spade cards. However, it’s not a foolproof strategy because you never know what challenges future bosses may hold.

Dump Cards (Risky and situational)

You get 4 hands and 4 discards at the beginning and they can be increased with vouchers. In some games, you may run out of discards and still not have the right hand. In situations like these, you can play a hand to get rid of unnecessary cards.

Dump Cards

For example, if you only have a pair and there are no more discards left, play the pair as well as three of the most unnecessary cards in that hand. This way, you get to cycle 5 cards and increase your odds of getting a decent hand.

Check your Deck Before Making Plays

Make sure you have the right cards left in the deck before you start fishing for them. I’ve lost countless games where I was sure I had cards in my deck that weren’t actually there. You can even calculate the probability of pulling certain cards from the deck and increase your odds of winning the round.

Peek into your deck

Hovering the mouse over the deck gives a simplistic view, but clicking on it gives a more detailed view of all the cards left in it.

Multiple Winning Strategies (at least 2)

If you’re familiar with roguelikes, you’ll know that 9 out of 10 times you aren’t lucky. In most of your Balatro runs, you’ll have multiple winning strategies.

Shop

For instance, in my last run, I leveled up three-of-kind to level 5 and my sole strategy was getting hands with triplets.

Search for Broken Combos

Like most roguelikes, Balatro is no stranger to overpowered strategies. While playing, you’ll come across games where you manage to build insane decks and keep crushing round after round in endless mode.

Always be on the lookout for OP combos. If you find one key joker, focus on collecting others that synergize well with it so that you can build long multi-streaks. Try to break the game because that’s the only way you can achieve high scores consistently.

Playing vs Skipping

Sometimes skipping the rounds gets you more gold than actually playing them. Look for blinds like Skip Tag that grant $5 per skipped blind in that run.

Skipping

That much gold increases your chances of landing a powerful joker right at the beginning.

Seeds are not the Key

In Balatro, seeds make the game a lot easier but at the cost of progression. Seeded games don’t count towards your official win numbers. So you can use them for practice, maybe familiarize yourself with a specific deck or playstyle, but in the end, only non-seeded games count towards actual victories.

Choosing a new run

On the contrary, you can unlock every collectible in the game to better understand the mechanics. Although doing so disables achievements, you can always start a new save file.

Have Fun!

Game over screen

Numbers are never fun and Balatro is a game of numbers, but it’s a game after all, so try to have fun. Gather wacky jokers, level up your hands, do crazy stuff, and go wild. Balatro is a great game and thinking about it too much will suck the fun out of it. I could have gone more technical with this guide but I didn’t. I want you to enjoy the game and discover it for yourselves.

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Kaustab Das
Kaustab Das

Kaustab's passion for video games is unparalleled, and no other aspect of his life can compete with his love for them. While he loves multiple gaming genres, he mostly enjoys the company of collectible card games. He has been writing articles for 6 years, 4 of which he has spent focusing solely on the gaming niche. Through his words, he strives to create a group of enthusiasts who can collectively appreciate and enjoy the world of video games. Some of his contributions can be observed at Gamingbolt and MagicGameWorld, and currently, he is contributing his expertise at Superealm.

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