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Chess + Poker = Choker in Unusual New App

Chess Queen

There probably aren’t too many people who would think to bring together the games of chess and poker and potentially even fewer who would be able to bring that unison to life. Yet, it has now become a reality, thanks to the launch of the new Choker mobile app on Nov. 26, 2019. Despite the fact that its name is slightly questionable, the app should have plenty of appeal because of the fact that it combines two entertaining games – both of which require some sort of skill and plenty of strategy.

Choker Combines Chess and Poker

How Does It All Work?

Blue Info Button

So, how is it possible to bring together two games that are so different in their setups? After all, one utilizes a set of playing cards while the other has pieces and a board to move them across. It would seem like quite a difficult task to unite two such games. Yet, there are certain rules attached to the game of Choker, which provide you with details on how things work.

There are various options shown in the app lobby, like “Practice v AI” and “Tournaments,” but they basically differ only according to game selection and the number of matches you'll be engaging in and against whom. The core gameplay is virtually identical in all of these modes.

Lobby of the Choker AppThe Choker Lobby

It all starts with the chess board in view, with the Kings in their standard positions and a single pawn placed in front of them. After this, players are dealt hands from a deck of 44 Choker cards, which feature the different chess pieces on them.

The first of the betting rounds occurs after players receive their first two cards. Then after four cards have been dealt, a second betting round occurs, and finally, the last betting round takes place after five cards have been dealt out to each player.

The betting is exactly the same as in a poker game. So, you can bet, raise, call, check, or fold at any stage of the betting process according to the normal rules of poker. Choker is played with a no limit betting structure.

Players will be betting on the strength of the pieces depicted on the cards because should neither player fold, they will both engage in a round of chess to determine the winner of the pot using the pieces already on the board and the pieces shown on their cards.

Promotions and Demotions

When certain sequences of matching cards appear in the same hand, some pieces will automatically either be promoted or demoted. This process depends upon the value of the cards when you first receive them. The Choker app will change the value of a card by adjusting the picture on it although the original letter in the top-left hand corner will remain the same.

Pieces will be demoted should you receive too many of one piece in your hand. This takes place as follows:

  • The second or more of any Queens dealt will become pawns
  • The third or more of any Knights dealt will become pawns
  • The third or more of any Bishops dealt will become pawns
  • The third or more of any Rooks dealt will become pawns

In terms of promoting a card, pawns will be promoted if you receive three or more in your hand. They will become the following:

  • The third dealt pawn is promoted to a Rook
  • The fourth dealt pawn is promoted to a Queen
  • The fifth dealt pawn is promoted to a Queen

Of course, pawns from demotions will not count towards the requirements of promotions. Only the ones that are dealt can be promoted.

There are a few other ways that pieces can switch their identity. When a player receives a hand featuring one of each piece, the pawn is promoted to a Queen. This is known as The Palace. There’s also The Empress hand, which is a three-of-a-kind and a two-of-a-kind hand. The third matching piece will be promoted to a Queen in this circumstance. The Empress will also promote a previously demoted piece.

On to the Chess Round…

Arrow Pointing Right

Assuming neither participant folds, players then take it in turns to reveal and place their chess pieces on the board. Pawns can be placed anywhere in the second through fourth ranks of the board while other pieces are restricted to being put in the first two ranks only. Cards can be played in any order, and promoted or demoted pieces replace the relevant cards.

White always moves first. After all of the pieces are on the board, it’s time to play chess with them. Whoever wins the game will win the pot from all the bets placed.

Poker Round in ChokerThe Poker Betting Round
Placing Pieces in ChokerPiece Placement Phase

How to Win the Chess Round

Anyone who has played chess before will know that the idea behind it is to utilize some form of strategy so as to checkmate your opponent. And that’s essentially what you’ll need to do when playing Choker as well. It has just got the added perk of featuring poker betting alongside. There are three possible ways to win the pot, which are as follows:

  • You checkmate your opponent during the Chess Phase of Choker
  • Your opponent runs out of time during any phase of the game, with the exception of a draw
  • Your opponent folds or resigns

To add to this, there’s also the possibility of Choker finishing in a draw, which occurs when one of the following takes place:

  • If your opponent isn’t in check but also has no legal move to make, resulting in a stalemate
  • If neither side has sufficient material to be able to win
  • If players repeat the same position three times over
  • If a player wins on time but has insufficient material to win outright

Who Designed Choker?

Green Question Mark

The Choker mobile app was created by Queenside Games, which comes under the leadership of CEO Andrew Finan. Having run the 1995 World Chess Championship, which took place in New York City and saw Gary Kasparov defeat Viswanathan Anand, Mr. Finan wanted to play with the world’s best chess players.

Andrew FinanChoker Creator Andrew Finan

He claimed to be “inspired by the brilliance” of those players although the ones who did allow him to challenge them proceeded to crush him in games. It was this that brought the idea to Finan of a chess game where there was the possibility of an underdog being able to achieve a surprising victory, just as is possible in poker. He therefore thought of a route whereby an element of chance could also be key to winning a game.

It was this base idea that gave birth to the Choker app, and Queenside has even brought Hikaru Nakamura (a five-time US Chess Champion) in to promote the game. He features in the YouTube video trailer for the game, while the Hungarian International Chess Master and Woman Grandmaster Anna Rudolf makes up part of the Choker team too.

Hikaru Nakamura Playing ChokerImage From Video of Choker Gameplay by Chess GM Hikaru Nakamura

Of course, with such a strong team behind it and quite the intriguing twist to the game itself, there’s a definite possibility of Choker becoming a success. You’re able to download the app for free via the Google Play or Apple Store, and gameplay is mostly free as well. Every player is provided with a daily allowance of chips with which to place bets. Should you lose them playing Choker though, you do have the option of buying some more with real money so as not to have to wait until the following day to continue playing.

Chess and Poker Worlds Intersect

Globe

Despite this being the first mobile app to combine both poker and chess, the games have been linked together in one way or another before. After all, both are mental competitions rather than physical, and there are online chess portals as well as online poker sites.There are a few professional poker players who also engage in playing chess and who have also been very successful with it.

For example, Jennifer Shahade is a US chess player and poker player. She has the title of Woman Grandmaster, is a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame, and has also written books about playing the game. In terms of poker, she's an OFC coach for Phil Galfond's training site RunItOnce and the winner of the December 2014 TonyBet Open Face Chinese Poker Live World Championship €10,000-buyin High Roller Event in Prague.

Jennifer ShahadeChess and Poker Player Jen Shahade

Another chess master who is also a professional poker player is Ylon Schwartz of Brooklyn, New York. Not only did he finish fourth in the $10,000 Main Event of the 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP), but he’s a WSOP bracelet winner and reached a peak rating of 2408 in the United States Chess Federation.

Australian gamer James Obst has also claimed a WSOP bracelet and has been at seven final tables, having been an accomplished junior chess player previously. He represented Australia on three separate occasions at the World Junior Chess Championship, and he started playing poker at the age of 14. His live poker tournament winnings exceed $2.9 million.

Participating in Poker in the US

Playing Cards

If you’re a U.S. chess player already, but you want to involve yourself in playing poker as well, then we have some recommendations of online poker rooms that you can visit to do so. You can check out our full guide to USA internet poker to begin with. Lest you be worried about the legal climate for the game, you have no need to worry as we explain in our overview of the legalities involved in online poker for American players.

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