Balatro: Ranking All Decks

Detailed guide about all decks ranking in the Balatro.

In this guide, we explained in detail what each deck in the game is good or bad at and their ranking according to general value.

This guide was created by Jakkson K.

Ranking All the Decks

I have broken down scoring into 4 different categories. Each category will be given an out of ten scale and then the final score is the sum of all 4 category scores.

The categories are:

  • Stability – How good is the deck at the beginning and how easy is it to win those first couple blinds and get a run going. High stability means most of the time you will get to the midgame and low stability means you won’t win ante 1 unless you get really lucky and/or play perfectly.
  • Ease of Play – How easy is it to transfer from the mid-game into winning and does the deck require you to think about anything extra or give you benefits that make things easier to think about or get the hands you want.
  • Versatility – How good is the deck at different builds? Are their any jokers that the deck makes function? Any jokers that are anti-synergy with the deck? Are there more than 1 potential build, or will most games play out in a similar way or die because you weren’t given the jokers you needed to make it work?
  • X Factor – When you pop-off, how much of that is the deck? Does the deck give better and more consistent end game results. If you were to be guaranteed to get to ante 8, how much further will you go on average?

Each deck will start at 5 in each category and any notable benefits or detrements will affect it accordingly. As of writing, I have beaten Orange Stake on Yellow Deck (have been grinding Gold for the past 6-7 hours of gameplay), Red Stake on most and at least gotten one win on each deck to get a feel of how they play.

Painted Deck – 17 points

  • Painted deck gives +2 hand size for -1 joker slot.
  • Stability – 8
  • Ease of Play – 5
  • Versaility – 4
  • X Factor – 0

Painted Deck trades a bit more stable of an early game and makes the deck drawing more consistent, at the cost of losing 20% of your power in jokers.

While, I can consistently make it out of ante 2 just by drawing more cards and being able to play better hands, lacking the ability to have a 5th jokers means less spots for economy jokers, less huge numbers, and overall a very tough time in the end game.

It is saying something when my only win with this deck had 4 negative jokers in it (3 were from random packs/shops)

The ease of having bigger hand size is completely out-weighed by the difficult “which joker do I keep?” you will constantly be running into.

It is the best deck for straights, only deck I can reliably make them. A pretty good deck for early game 4 of a kind and straight flushes.
But it actively stops you from winning. Therefore, it is the lowest scoring deck.

Green Deck – 21 points

  • Green deck removes interest and instead you get +1 additional money for each unspent hand or discard.
  • Stability – 4
  • Ease of Play – 3
  • Versatility – 7
  • X Factor – 7

Green deck is the best deck for money builds, however you need to have consistent winning hands or you will lose a lot of this.
This is probably just personal preference and the deck not gelling with me, but I feel like I have less money most of the time and nothing in return.

It feels like the most average deck.

Now, if you get +1 hand, +1 discard vouchers, Delayed Gratitude and other stuff, you can start raking in the money.

This deck gets heavily nerfed by Blue Stake. And while a lot of jokers are technically more useful in this deck than other decks, I don’t think its versatility is over the moon.

This was the last normal deck I won with, and the only one I haven’t won a second time with, because I personally dislike the deck. Probably could use a bit more points in Ease of Play, but knowing that every move you make, even discarding, costs you 1 dollar, it makes the strategy just a bit more complex.

Being able to roll down or run Vagabond with no penalty is good though.

Magic Deck – 22 Points

  • Magic deck starts you off with the crystal ball voucher (+1 consumable slot) and 2 copies of The Fool (copy the last played tarot/planet card)
  • Stability – 7
  • Ease of Play – 5
  • Versatility – 6
  • X Factor – 4

I find this deck quite stable. 3 copies of your first tarot can be helpful. Especially if you can get a lot of money, 3 random jokers, turn 8 cards into 1 suit, strength a bunch, etc.

And this also gives it a point to versatility as starting off with 5 tarots played gives a lot of different options.

Once you get past the early game, the deck really doesn’t do you much. The permanent +1
Consumable Slot is… not the most useful. Often times I don’t even keep 2 consumables on me so it is quite niche.

I feel like every other deck besides Yellow Deck has something to offer late game, but this deck doesn’t. That is why both it and Yellow have 4 X Factor, where as Red and Blue will have 5.

On higher stakes, you might lose before ever getting a chance you use your fools, and that would just feel bad.

Black Deck – 23 points

  • Black Deck trades -1 hand for +1 joker slot.
  • Stability – 0
  • Ease of Play – 5
  • Versatility – 8
  • X Factor – 10

Black deck is the worst early game deck by far. 1 less hand means it is harder to win against the blinds, you make less money, and the extra joker slot probably won’t come into play until ante 3 at the very earliest.

However, if you can get past the brutal early game, you get rewarding with the versatility of slotting in an extra joker, and +1 joker late game is insane and is why the first time I won with Black Deck I also made it to ante 13 which was my farthest run.

Generally the hardest deck to win with, but if you win, you really win. Really makes the game feel like a slot machine rather than a deckbuilding roguelike.

Checkered Deck – 24 points

  • Checkered decks has you start off with only Hearts and Spades, making it start with 26 cards of each; 2 of each rank per suit.
  • Stability – 9
  • Ease of Play – 8
  • Versatility – 0
  • X Factor – 5

Checkered deck is the deck that pigeon holes you into flush builds by making flush builds really easy. Sure you could do straight flush, or flush five, but you pick this deck to do flushes.

Flushes aren’t the strongest come late game, but they can scale decently with constant planet cards. I have gotten level 41 flushes with this deck. Flushes make the early game pretty easy and you don’t need to think as much about what to do for your build because it is gonna be flush.

Having only 2 suits also makes the game play easier needing to only account for 2 suits.

Without Smeared Joker roughly half of the suit-based synergy will be pointless for you with this deck and any joker that benefits different poker hands feel less strong. Sure you can make a two pair that is also a flush from the base deck, I wouldn’t normally run a two pair joker with this deck.

(This and Plasma deck are my only decks to have 100% winrate against Boss Blind 1)

Abandoned Deck – 25 points

  • This deck makes you start with only 40 cards as it lacks any face cards. And you know what they say, thin to win.
  • Stability – 5
  • Ease of Play – 8
  • Versatility – 4
  • X Factor – 8

So with this deck you trade off most of your high-chip card values for a thinner starting deck, making four of a kind a decently common early game hand to build and coast with to the mid-game. Now you may struggle with 1 turning the first blinds because of lower average chip scores, but the consistency of draw is well worth it imo.

The versatility takes a hit by making it so none of the face card jokers do anything for you, however any other joker like Scholar or Walkie Talkie get buffed by hitting those cards more often.

And if you start deleting more cards, you can pretty reasonably get the small hands achievement. Be careful though, if you exhaust your deck, you lose.

Abandoned Deck is my favourite at first glance, and definitely out of the simple decks is my favourite besides the nice early game Yellow deck brings me.

Red Deck – 26 points

  • (Time for a 4 way tie)
  • Red Deck gives you +1 discard.
  • Stability – 7
  • Ease of Play – 6
  • Versatility – 8
  • X Factor – 5

An extra discard makes building the high value early hands easier making you get more of your potential money. Not as good for money or clutching out a close victory as Blue Decks +1 hand, however the added synergy with discard based jokers for money making is good.

Being able to cycle the deck is a stop-gap for your early game deck being less consistent, and as you build you consistency you will stop needing those discards as much.

At Blue Stake and higher, this decks ability counter-acts Blue Stakes, giving you the normal amount of discards. And -1 discards feels bad, but the +1 normally doesn’t feel that good and isn’t that noticeable. Because going from 2 to 3 is a 50% increase, but 3 to 4 is a 33% increase.

Blue Deck – 26 points

  • Blue deck gives +1 hand
  • Stability – 8
  • Ease of Play – 7
  • Versatility – 6
  • X Factor – 5

Now, while hands are like discards that score points and can give money, discards do have specific synergies and use cases that I can’t objectively put Blue deck above Red Deck, even though I find Blue Deck to be the better deck.

It has a better early game with more economy potential, though probably the same economy on average. And the extra hand can help close out with those few extra points needed on close calls with bosses.

Also, you start out of 4 hands, so +1 is only a 20% increase, whereas the discard is a 33% or 50% increase. But if you lump together all your hands and discards as a single resource is it the same either way. It depends on how you think of them, and what hands/bosses you run into.

Red Deck is better at handling The Tooth, The Needle, of those ones that after each hand cards get drawn face down or discard 2 random ones. But Blue Deck is noticeably better at The Wall or Violet Vessel and slightly better against all the other blinds.

So these two decks being tied makes a lot of sense to me, along with the other two decks that also scored 26/40 points.

Yellow Deck – 26 points

  • Yellow deck gives you 10 extra starting cash.
  • Stability – 10
  • Ease of Play – 5
  • Versatility – 7
  • X Factor – 4

Yellow Deck gives starting cash, meaning you can buy more from the early shops making it easier to get out of the early game or build up an economy. But after that the deck literally gives you nothing, so no help in mid-game or late game.

Now, Yellow Deck can help getting starting interest, and even earning a guaranteed 2 interest on small blind 1 making it more worthwhile to not skip in higher Stakes. And if you are able to get your money up and going, getting 5 interest each round can help snowball you midgame, but most of my runs see me using the money to get out of the early game and grab jokers to help win as it is more consistent.

Yellow is my only deck that I have beat high stakes with. The early game can’t be understated.

Zodiac Deck – 26 points

  • Zodiac Deck starts you off with 3 vouchers. Overstock, x2 tarot cards in shop and x2 planet cards in shop.
  • Stability – 3
  • Ease of Play – 6
  • Versatility – 9
  • X Factor – 8

Early game gets hindered by the vouchers. While being able to have Overstock, you generally don’t want to see Tarots/Planets over jokers in early shops. And the consistency with the deck itself is really bad because of this.

However the versatility and sheer power you can potentially get from all the extra tarot and planet cards can be great. If you get good economy going with the tarots, you can spend more money getting more with less rerolls.

Constellation and Fortune Teller are the two big winners of this deck. And the deck kinda counteracts Orange Stake, but not entirely.

Nebula Deck – 27 points

  • Nebula Deck starts you off with the Observatory voucher, but -1 consumable slot.
  • Stability – 5
  • Ease of Play – 8
  • Versatility – 6
  • X Factor – 8

Nebula Deck allows you to hyper-focus one hand type, and really gives a lot of benefits if you do. However it lacks the ability to pivot, which is why its versatility is lower than I would’ve thought. And also the versatility gets knocked down by both Tarots that need 2 consumable slots to function.

Now if you just go for like a Full House build and do that, it is great. 4 of a kind has good scaling. Flush is fine. If your early joker is the pants then congrats, two pair/full house is basically a sure-fire win.

I find this deck kinda plays itself once you decided on your hand of choice from early game joker options.

X Factor is up there, because if you were lucky to scale with Straight Flush, four of a kind, or five of a kind, you got a nice ante 12 ahead of you.

Ghost Deck – 29 Points

  • Ghost deck starts you off with a Hex and makes it so spectral cards can appear in the shop.
  • Stability – 6
  • Ease of Play – 6
  • Versatility – 8
  • X Factor – 9

Ghost deck plays very normally except you can make your first good joker Polychrome. However, its stability isn’t so high because polychrome only helps slightly in the early game and if you don’t get a joker you want to keep around, you can sometimes run into a scenario with 2 options, either lose due to not powerful enough or waste your Hex on a weak joker.

Ghost’s other main facet is seeing spectral cards in the shop. And this can be very good. However the rate at which they appear isn’t very high. Most of the time you will see 1 to 2 in 8 antes if your average reroll per shop is about 1 like me. More if you get overstock and overstock+.
I have won games with Ghost without seeing a single spectral card in the shop. So it barely helps in reasonable play. In Orange stake not needing to purchase spectral packs can be a big plus.

Ghost is incredibly good for lategame runs as it can give you the spectral card in your consumable slots for Perkio to copy infinitely. However this set-up is basically impossible to get unseeded.

I am not sure if Ghost deck can have Soul or Black Hole appear in shops as I think I have seen every other spectral card except those two.

Being solidly a top 5 deck (4th best) it is impressive.

Anaglyph Deck – 31 points

  • Anaglyph deck gives you a double tag after each boss blind, for a total of 7 within a normal run.
  • Stability – 5
  • Ease of Play – 8
  • Versatility – 8
  • X Factor – 10

Anaglyph deck doesn’t do anything until ante 2, but it can make ante 2 and 3 rather easy if you get good tags.
Anaglyph deck values strategic skips rather than just skipping everything or nothing like most builds will end up doing. It makes it the most fun deck to play.

If you know what you are doing it is pretty easy to finish a run and if you get a negative joker tag you just win ante 12.

There is a lot of versatility in the question of how you use the double tags. Do you save them up because the run is coasting right now, or are you struggling and need a few smaller swings.

Now this does have a pretty decent RNG factor. If you get nothing but the Discard money tag, boss reroll, uncommon joker, the entire run you are pretty ♥♥♥♥♥♥. However, the game will most of the time give you at least 1 half-ways decent tag every 2 antes.

Orange Stake this deck let’s you take like 3 or 4 Mega Tarot packs instead of 1 or 2.

Erratic Deck – 31 points

  • Erratic decks gives you 52 random cards. Random suit and random rank for all 52 cards.
  • Stability – 8
  • Ease of Play – 7
  • Versatility – 8
  • X Factor – 8

Now even though the average random deck will look fairly similar to a normal deck, pay attention to what ranks you have. Often times I get at least one rank with 5-9 cards to start with making it really good for early hand 1-hand kills with four/five of a kind. I have seen decks that start with 25 of a single suit, making flushes very easy. Often both together.

Because of this, you can make it through the early game more consistently if you know what to look out for. And it easily pushes towards a build by making it very easy.

While yes, straights and impossible, every other hand has the potential to be boosted to the extreme.

Almost every game with this deck I build 5 of a kind and get at least to ante 6 where it is a joker check.

I was originally gonna make the X Factor a lot less until I realized that you get pretty easily get a more consistent deck and get planet cards earlier. Unlocking Planet X or Ceres on ante 1 lets you get so many more levels on it to lead into late game. Pair that with let’s say, you would’ve had 14 aces in your deck, now you can easily have 16 or 17 just by the deck you picked.

I find it being tied with Anaglyph to make a lot of sense in my head. This one gives you everything at the start and lets you fly. While Anaglyph waits a while before giving you everything and letting you fly much higher.

Plasma Deck – 32 points

  • Plasma deck takes your two scores, averages them and then squares it to get your final score. Making your points maximize. However, required scores scales faster.
  • Stability – 9
  • Ease of Play – 6
  • Versatility – 10
  • X Factor – 7

Plasma deck might not seem that big of a deal, but you basically can’t lose ante 1 or 2 if you try even a little bit. And it let’s high-chip strategies actually work rather than just petering out around ante 5.

The versatility is high because no matter how you raise your numbers, if you do so, you will scale better than any other deck. And while this is at the cost of the antes scaling faster as well, I don’t really notice it until ante 6 or 7.

The X Factor would be higher because of how insane stone builds can be with this deck, and how you can get to infinity^2 in points, except for the fact that Ante 10 looks like Ante 12 and it just gets worse from there. So if you didn’t pack literally infinity or win the lottery on stone, getting out of ante 11 is gonna be impossible.

Ease of play is the worst aspect of this deck because it requires you approach the game and think about it in a completely different way that can be difficult to wrap your head around and ante 8 can be very difficult, even reaching >1 mill required score with Violet Vessel. However, if you understand the math, you will quickly realize that bigger number is better. Throw away whether it is mult or chips, just look at which number is higher. Unless you got good mult multiplier, then you want mult as it will pay off better.


And there we go, surprisingly balanced with the lowest deck scoring 17/40 and the highest one getting 32/40. And only 1 deck didn’t make its upsides outweigh its downsides.

Now just because a deck has a higher point value, that doesn’t mean it is objectively better. Depending on how you see the 4 factors I chose. You might ignore X Factor as “a win is a win” and you don’t care about endless. In which painted would be one of the solid spots with 17/30 and black deck would be dead last with 13/30.

You might be perfectly fine with retrying over and over and over again until you win or just play seeded runs and therefore Ghost, Black, and Anaglyph are by far the strongest. (Black deck is still weaker than the other two by a large amount seeded or unseeded.)

I am just trying to find the deck that is good early game while still having late game potential, while having a variety or builds and being easy to play. Did I come up with random, seemingly arbitrary numbers, ABSOLUTELY. If you think Painted Deck has just as good of an early game as checkered deck… Sure. Is that an 8, 9 or maybe you’d only give them a 6?

Maybe you are a Green Deck understander that thinks black deck deserves the bottom 3 spot more, that is perfectly fine.

And for that Anaglyph, Plasma and Erratic are the three best and they are so close it is basically personally preference.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *