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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 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.

by Traci
This is definitely one to try!
October 10, 2006

Parlay offers a new look at word games and a refreshing family approach to Poker. No betting, wagering, etc. is used in Parlay, yet you can enjoy your favorite poker style when playing this game, be it Texas Hold 'Em, Five Card Draw, etc.

Using an enhanced and high quality deck of poker cards, with added letters and scores included, you are playing not only for the best hand in poker, but for the best word! Bluffing is enriched even more, as you can bluff on your poker hand and on your word! (well, unless they call your bluff that is!)

This is a game that word game lovers will adore, as it adds such a fun and unique twist. Poker players will enjoy this game if they also love word games (such as Scrabble), but if they do not already have a love for this style of game, they may or may not enjoy Parlay as much as a straight game of Poker.

This is a game that is beautiful in its detail and strategic in play. We wondered what we were in for when we started the game, but as word game lovers, we were hooked after the first round! Every night is a Parlay night around here right now ... Not sure how long the addiction will last, but it has been going for quite a while already.

One of my favorite parts of this game is it is family friendly and a great one to bring the kids in for. They enjoy the fun pace of it, and I enjoy that they do not encounter betting, etc., yet can enjoy a fun card game with us adults.

This is definitely one to try! I think you will enjoy it as we have. It has made for a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and a lot of BAD bluffs!

Editor's Note: This review was originally published by The Family Review Center.

A Superb New Word Game with a Twist
January 25, 2006
The object of Parlay is to earn the most points by forming good words, and possibly multiplying that through good Poker hands as well.

Each hand, you must decide to "Stay" or "Fold"; if you fold you get your points for your word, but if you "Stay" you could potentially get bonus points for word length and for a good Poker hand, but only if your total score (from word plus length plus Poker hand) is better than any of your opponents. Otherwise you lose everything!

When I first saw Parlay I really wasn't too impressed by the idea of putting Poker and word games together. It seemed like a poor attempt to cash in on current gaming trends. I was 100% wrong. Parlay is a well-designed word game that stands right up there with any of the classics of the genre.

Most of the interesting gameplay in Parlay is centered around the decision of whether to fold or stay in a hand. You have to measure a few different things: how good your word is, how good your Poker hand is, and how that's likely to measure up to everyone else's. Stepping backward from there, that also means that any card draws that you take form an additional interesting decision, as you have to decide if you want to try and draw for a better word (and how to do so if so) or if you want to draw for a better Poker hand. There's a lot of strategies.

I was also surprised to see that "bluffing", which is to say making up a word, can work in Parlay. There's good balance for both wanting to call someone (because you need them out of the current hand lest they beat you) and not (primarily because you decided to fold and don't want to lose your otherwise guaranteed points).

To a certain extent, the scoring system is a little complex, and I'd love to see a simpler version if it were possible, but the weighting of words, Poker hands, and length bonuses is what actually makes everything work (so it might not be possible to simplify things).

I generally like word games. Scrabble and Boggle regularly get play at my house, while Quiddler also did the year I bought it, when it was still new. I think that Parlay stands up to anything in the genre because of its originality and its fun brinksmanship and bluffing mechanisms which you don't tend to find in word games.

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.

Other Resources for Parlay:

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