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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Best Word Game, 2007

Ages Play Time Players
9+ 30-90 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Jennifer Sturgis, Paul Sturgis

Manufacturer(s): Real Deal Games

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Product Description

Make the best word and the best poker hand that you can from your cards. Stay and risk your points for a shot at bonuses, or play it safe and fold for guaranteed points. Have fun word bluffing opponents, but be careful; you might get your bluff called and get knocked out of the hand. Play Texas Hold’em, 5 Card Draw, and more!

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Word Game, 2007

Product Information


  • 55 playing cards
  • 6 stay/fold chips
  • score pad
  • instructions
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews

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by Greg J. Schloesser
A new twist on two familiar games
November 09, 2010

Designers: Paul and Jennifer Sturgis
Publisher: Real Deal Games
2 – 6 Players, 30 – 90 minutes
Reviewer: Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine

The Texas Hold ‘Em craze has swept the nation, permeating both television and the internet. Dozens of poker-themed games line store shelves. America and the world are enthralled.

Much of the world also loves word games. So it should be no surprise that a game would surface merging the two genres. Parlay is that game. Designed by Paul and Jennifer Sturgis, Parlay challenges players to not only form winning poker hands, but also build high-scoring words that will earn copious amounts of points. It is a marriage that leaves one slapping his forehead and muttering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Parlay consists of a standard deck of 52 playing cards, with each card modified to include a letter and point value. The more difficult a letter is to use in a word, the more points it will potentially yield. Each player is also armed with a “Fold / Stay” poker chip and a score sheet.

Dozens of different Parlay poker variations can be played, with the rules for five included in the game. Further variants can be found on the company’s website: When playing the Texas Hold ‘Em game, each player is dealt two cards, and will have three opportunities to exchange a card with one from the deck. These opportunities are prior to the dealing of the flop, turn, and river cards. Poker players will be familiar with these terms, which relate to the five cards that will be revealed on the table. Players attempt to form the best 5-card poker hand from the cards on the table and the two cards in their hand. Additionally, they must form a word from the seven letters depicted on the seven cards. Using higher-scoring letters and forming longer words is advisable, as these can earn generous bonuses. For example, a five-letter word will earn a 15-point bonus, while a lengthy seven-letter word will reward the player with a 100-point bonus!

Players record their word and its potential score on their score sheet, then decide whether they will remain in the round or fold, which is indicated using their poker chip. Before revealing their choice, all players read aloud their word, which can be challenged by their opponents. A successful “bluff” word will yield points, but getting caught gets one expelled from the round!

By folding, a player scores the base points for his word, without any bonuses. Staying in a hand is potentially more lucrative, but is risky as only the highest scorer receives points! The player with the best poker hand doubles his base word score, and the player with the most overall points, including bonuses, wins the hand and receives his points. All other players who did not fold go away empty handed. Numerous hands are played until one player reaches a set-number of points, and is crowned Parlay champion.

I was initially wary of Parlay, as I am not a poker fan. However, the marriage between poker and word games works well. While the scoring is a bit fiddly, the game is quite fun and challenging. It maintains the bluff and “stay or fold” poker mechanisms, and the best “word” guru in the group is not guaranteed to win. Parlay is a fine game to bring lovers of card games and word game aficionados together for a fun-filled, exciting encounter.

by Kay M
Parlay is Great fun game.
July 19, 2009

I think Parlay is one of the most fun games I have ever played. It brings laughter and competitiveness to our family time at the kitchen table. so if you invent another one as good as this one, send it to me!! Thanks so much for the games. Kay

A word game that poker players can love (and vice versa).
August 04, 2007

Similar to Quiddler or Palabra but with a twist. The cards have a letter and a point value on them but the deck is a standard 52 card poker deck (plus jokers).

Try to create the best word but also try to create the best poker hand. Doing one or the other is easy but getting both doesn't happen very often and that's when you can score big points! The game also has a great element of bluff... Do you fold your hand and just score the word points or do you stay in and try to take the best poker hand and word length bonuses? There is even a bonus if you catch an opponent trying to score a phony word!

I've played numerous games and there is always new strategies to try. Playing with more than 2 players (up to 6) also calls for different styles of play. The game manual gives several variations of poker but more can be found on the makers website.

The game can be played by young and old, word game fanatics or poker nuts. It's a good time for all.

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