Review: Deception
Publisher: E.S. Lowe
Year: 1975
Tagline: The Memory Poker Game

Cover showing face down memory tiles and pawns

how we met

I picked up Deception for a buck at a garage sale a couple weeks ago. Between the price, the oh-so-70’s cover and the photo of The Odd Couple (Jack Klugman and Tony Randall specifically) on the cover, I was sold. I don’t personally know anything about The Odd Couple and had to google to understand how it ties to poker. But I appreciate a cash grab whenever I see it, so it is a better cover for showing a TV show. And I fully intend to tag this post accordingly.

how it plays

The Memory Poker Game is a good description of how Deception plays. The cards are shuffled or otherwise mixed up while face down. Each player receives two cards face up that will go towards their best 5-card poker hand from a total of 7 cards. The remaining cards are placed face down on the spaces in the board, and the leftovers are set aside.

Overhead shot of the game board ready for play

Ready to play!

Players have five pawns in their color and a number of chips. Each player antes 5 chips to play. On their turn, each player may look at two of the cards on the board, without revealing them to other players, and must choose one of those cards to claim in their poker hand. They do this by placing one of their 5 pawns in the space next to the card.

Game board with some pawns in place

Mid-play showing claimed cards

If you are interested in viewing one of the cards that was already claimed by another player then you must first pay that player 2 chips for the privilege. If two players claimed the card you must pay each of them. Only three players can claim any one card.

Once all 5 pawns from each player have been placed then betting starts, just as in regular poker. You can see, call, raise, fold, whatever.

Card shows rank of hands from high card to 5 of a kind

A cheat sheet reminds players of low to high poker hands

Once betting ends, each player still in the pot verbally reveals their hand (full house, four of a kind jack high, etc). The player with the highest claimed hand then reveals it by exposing the correct cards on the board, which will be a subset of the cards they claimed. If they are correct, they win! If they are incorrect, the next highest player may do the same until there is a winner.

how it went

I like poker so I thought I would enjoy this game. In our first hand, Bill was dealt two wild cards face up so we assumed he would win the hand. But it really does have to do with the luck of what cards you decide to look at. Since I am lazy I focused on the cards nearest me, and the two nearest me just so happened to be two aces.

Starting hand showing wild and 9 of hearts

My hand, starting with a wild card is never a bad thing

You have to claim one of the two cards you look at. Even if you know what a card is from looking previously and someone has claimed it since, you have to pay to look at it again in order to claim it. A few chips were changing hands as we played during those phases.

In the end John claimed a full house and each of the rest of us had four of a kind, but mine was aces! Thank you wild card! But I revealed one of the cards incorrectly (sigh), so it went to Keri next. She won that hand by accurately revealing four of a kind, kings!

Game board showing 3 cards marked by yellow flipped over showing kings

The big reveal

John had gone all-in with 19 chips during betting. I only had 10, so we had a side pot going. If I had won, our fun could have continued. But alas my memory is rubbish and when Keri won, no one had chips left. And we put Deception away.

play or pass

Pass. If you like both poker and memory games then this might be the perfect marriage of the two for you to enjoy. I like poker, but I am not a big fan of memory games. I would much prefer to just play poker and skip the setup, the pawns, the memorizing and smirking at that cute cover.