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Parlay - #1 Card Game of 2006
Parlay

Parlay

Photo courtesy of Real Deal Games
Parlay

Designed by Paul Sturgis and Jennifer Sturgis; published by Real Deal Games; 2 to 6 players; ages 9 and up; $14 (approximate)

Parlay was named the Best Word Game of 2006 by Games magazine, and it deserved the honor. This creative hybrid mixes word games and Poker in a way that should appeal to fans of both.

The goal is to make the best Poker hand and the best word that you can. The standard 52-card deck has been enhanced with letters and point values on each card. The queen of clubs, for example, has a 5-point "R" while the 2 of spades has a 35-point "Qu." The entire deck is balanced so that higher-value Poker cards have lower-value letters and vice versa.

Just like Poker, Parlay can be played in any number of ways. The basic rules remain the same, it's just the way the cards are dealt that changes. In the Parlay version of Texas Hold Em, players start with two cards and may exchange one of them before the flop. Players are given another chance to exchange one of their hole cards after the flop, and a third chance after the turn. But no cards may be exchanged after the river (the fifth community card).

After the dealing if finished, players form their best word and calculate the point total. (When forming words, players can use all seven cards.) At this point, players simultaneously decide whether to stay or fold. Those who fold get to keep their word points, but cannot score any bonus points. Among those who stay, only the player with the best overall score (word points plus bonuses) scores anything. Other players who stayed score zero for that hand.

Parlay is an engaging and exciting game for families, word lovers and Poker players looking for a new challenge. That's why it's my pick as the best card game of 2006.

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