Card Counting and Deck Tracking

Jay Jester
Larry Wilson Art

Today, Jester University offers a course on card counting and deck tracking in Doomtown: Reloaded. Greenhorns tend to overlook or miss many of the strategies that DTR’s top players use. DTR allows players open knowledge of all cards in your hand, plus those in play and discard piles (hereafter referred to as “revealed or known cards”). Observant players can therefore glean clues toward strong game play by analyzing the ongoing information available to players each turn.

Card Counting
By studying revealed cards, players can know what cards remain in their deck. Consider the Jokers. Knowing you have a joker or two left in your deck helps decide whether to engage in a shootout, especially if the decks few remaining cards increase the probability of drawing joker(s). Also beware of any yet unseen off value or pull-failing cards, which informs decision making for cards such as Legendary holster, Soul Blast, and/or Experimental cards.

A more extreme version of card counting predicts the reliability of your shootout hand. With few cards left in your deck, plus a thorough understanding of your deck’s composition, you can have a strong idea of your final draw hand. For example, if you have 10 cards left in your deck, and dudes granting 3 stud and 2 draw, you can deduce your hand composition (unless opponent changes your bullets). For most shootouts, card counting grants one key piece of information, what your goal hand should be. If all your cards of a S&V are revealed, barring a shuffle or joker, you won't be getting a legal 4 of a kind, or might end up locked out of a Straight Flush or Dead Mans Hand.

Deck Tracking
Deck tracking uses your knowledge of revealed cards to make in-game decisions based upon a general knowledge of your deck’s remaining cards. Your choices depend upon the type of deck, e.g. skill/kung fu pulls, noon or shootout actions, or other possibilities. This often translates into choosing what order of actions to do in a turn. Some examples of cards for which deck tracking may help include Arnold Stewart, Pigging Out, Run Rabbit Run, and Laughing Crow.

Tracking your opponents deck can also provide useful information. It helps deduce your opponent’s deck archetype, and how they plan on winning. Watching recurring values or suits come up reveals your opponent’s draw structure along with knowing if your opponent’s jokers remain in their hand or deck. You can also sometimes know if your opponent will likely have a weak shootout hand, and play aggressively around it. For example, you notice that your opponent has revealed all 4 of one S&V in two suits, and thus unlikely to pull better than a full house, and certainly fail to hit a straight flush. Watching your opponents revealed cards also may provide clues as to what you might expect to see during a shootout. This is especially useful in letting you know if you can confidently cheat in a shootout. If you know all your opponent’s cheating resolutions lie in his discard pile, you can play aggressively with a large posse aiming to pull cheating five of a kinds.

In closing, players need to also consider and maintain awareness of game time length and remaining time. Deck track by paying attention during game play with occasional quick searches of discard piles. Take a more thorough analysis of deck compositions before critical shootouts, but respect the clock. These tips help inform important game decisions, but players need to respect opponents and exercise good sportsmanship.