Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Bruno Cathala &
Bruno Faidutti


No. of Players:
2 - 6




G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Do you like Poker? Are you looking forward to play Poker with friends who are normally not interested in betting and playing traditional card games? Or do you just like to introduce the Poker game to your wife and children? Maybe you already know and love other Poker variants, that are quite modern these days, so for example Texas Hold´em? Then maybe Phalanx Chicago Poker is the right choice for you….


Beginning with the lovely gamebox, Chicago Poker is a well designed game that has nothing to do with the double 52 cards of the traditional game. So on the cards, which show the numbers of 1-15 in five different colours, the faces of dodgy gangsters and other dubious figures can be found and the design will easily please a gamer's heart. The players take up the role of gangster bosses in Chicago in the 1920s. As everybody knows, that was the time of Al Capone and all the other guys who were fighting against the law and who were struggling for influence in various clubs, bars, gambling houses and breweries.

[IMAGE]Depending on the number of players, in Chicago Poker there are always 2-4 of these businesses - represented by hexadecimal disks (one side for each player) - on the table. By playing cards from a player's hand to these places, the players try to exert influence on the businesses and to get the upper hand. Whenever a player has played a fifth card to a business he claims a shootout. In the following round, all other players still have the opportunity to improve their hand by adding more cards to the business - lucky for the player who has the right cards. And then, at the beginning of the turn of the player who claimed the shootout, a Poker scoring takes place. This shootout is very similar to the traditional card game. However, next to the usual combinations of Poker like a Pair, a Flush, a Full House etc. there are two special possibilities for scorings in Chicago Poker. A rainbow-street is a street with cards in five different colours and a Chicago Poker must have five cards of the same value but cards in different colours. As always in a Poker game it is extremely difficult to get the more valuable combinations like a Straight Flush and so there is always a lot of bluffing in the air. As might be guessed, the player with the best combination of cards wins the business in question.

[IMAGE]Unlike the traditional game there is not only one place of bidding, but there are 2 to 4 places where a hand is played at the same time, represented by the different businesses. So a player in his turn always has to choose whether it is wiser to improve a good hand on a business he wants to possess or to strengthen a hand on another business of his opponents' interest. Next to the element of bluffing this gives the game a very interesting tactical impact. The more businesses are on the table (the more players are in game), the more chaotically and unpredictable becomes Chicago Poker. Whereas a two player game's atmosphere is very near to the traditional card game, a five player game is funnier, much less tactical and depends much more on your opponent's decisions.

A strong element that strengthens the element of bluffing even further is a specification of how to play cards to a business. There are four types of businesses. Only at one business all cards are played face up, so that your opponents can see your hand. On other businesses some cards, e.g. every second card, must be played face down. This gives the players a lot of opportunities to hide their real intentions.

Finally, five special cards - which can be drawn and played in a player's turn instead of one of the other cards - allow some actions that normally are not possible. An "Assassination" enables the player to take one of the last cards of an opponent's hand from the table, with a "Raid" a player may look under the cards of one player's hand, a "Limousine" can move some cards from one to another business, an "Injection" of lead gives the player an additional action and with a "Bribe" the player may take one of the cards from the stack.

There are three ways to win the game: Either you take control of three businesses of the same kind or you control four businesses of different kind or any 5 businesses.

Poker games seem to have a renaissance phase in the last years. Only yesterday I went to my favourite game store in town and saw Poker chips wherever I looked. So it is not really a wonder that more and more variants of the traditional card game are coming into the shelves. Chicago Poker is a really good one. It has a clever mechanism that works with 2 players as well as with 6, only that the tactical influences decrease with the number of players. It is a good game to introduce Poker to a Newbie and also works for children, because it has nothing to do with the betting with money or Poker chips like in the original game. The special cards and the different specifications on the businesses guarantee a lot of funny actions. And when you are familiar with Chicago Poker you might well give it the first draw in comparison with the traditional card game because it offers a much more entertaining gameplay.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany