While Balatro doesn’t play exactly like Poker, it’s definitely influenced deeply by the massively popular card game. That’s why it’s pretty wild to learn that Balatro’s creator doesn’t really enjoy Poker all that much!

In an interview with Game Informer, Balatro creator LocalThunk opened up on how the game came to be. While Poker was a major source of inspiration, it turns out elements surrounding the game led to Balatro’s creation, instead of it coming from the developer being a fan.

When I was making this game, I thought, playing cards: what’s something that’s thematically tied to playing cards that has a lot of identity, iconography, imagery people are familiar with that they can lean on to get into the game instead of having to learn about so that they can get into the game? And I thought Poker is the perfect thing because it has all these interesting visuals, sounds, terminology people are generally familiar with. More than most other card games do, it kind of has this aura about it as a card game, more so than like a Solitaire would or Cribbage or something. So, I leaned really heavily on the theming because I knew the theming was such a strong part of Poker, even if the mechanics I don’t really care for with Poker. I don’t really play it. I know how it works, I have played it before, but it’s not really a game I enjoy.

[LocalThunk, Balatro creator]

So…a Poker-inspired game from someone who doesn’t enjoy Poker. That developer disinterest didn’t seem to hinder Balatro by any means, as the title has now moved over a million units worldwide. There was even a point where the game would have been tied even closer to Poker, as LocalThunk revealed that the game’s working title was Joker Poker. One reason this name was shelved is due to another game existing on the App Store with the same name, but LocalThunk also mentioned that the vibe of the game didn’t quite mesh with the Joker Poker name.

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Comments (2)


4M ago

Balatro is truly one of the most addictive games out there.


4M ago

I don't care for poker either - but I love Balatro!