Best decks and strategies in Balatro

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Balatro is a solid contender for the hottest Roguelite Deckbuilder of 2024. There are countless ways to play, and near-infinite combinations can net a win. If you’re looking for new ways to play, let me show you some of the best decks and strategies in Balatro.

The best decks in Balatro

I’ll summarize a couple of the best decks in Balatro here and their unlock requirements. I also want to preface this by saying that every deck is viable with unique win conditions. For new players, the first big chase is scoring a win, so let’s start with a great deck to do that with:

Green Deck

Screenshot: PC Invasion
  • Unlock requirement: Discover 75 items in the Collection

The Green Deck is incredible and offers a ton of flexibility as it changes how the economy works. Instead of earning Interest, you gain $2 per remaining Hand and $1 per remaining Discard. This effect will often yield more money than usual.

If you have a decent cash flow, you can afford to be picky and even a little reckless in the shop. As a new player, you’ll still be getting familiar with Joker effects, but you’ll have enough capital to pick cards you’re comfortable with. It’s easy to lose a round of Balatro through poor choices in the shop, and the Green Deck should help you avoid those situations. If you prefer a mechanic you don’t have to manage through a run; the Yellow Deck is another cash-focused option that gives $10 at the start.

Now you know what the deck does, here’s a few Jokers to look out for:

  • Golden Joker (common): This Joker gives an additional $4 at the end of each round, giving us even more cash to spend in the shop.
  • Midas Mask (uncommon): Midas Mask makes all Face Cards gold when played. Gold cards give $3 if held at the end of the round, which usually requires minimal effort to trigger.
  • Bootstraps (uncommon): Bootstraps grants +2 Mult per $5 you have. If you want to use Bootstraps to its fullest, you’ll need to be a little more careful with your spending, but it’s a great way to add Mult to a cash-centric deck.
  • Clearance Sale (Voucher): Clearance Sale doesn’t give you more cash but makes items in the shop cheaper. The 50% discount goes a long way, especially if you need money to trigger synergies in your deck.

Checkered deck

Best decks and strategies in Balatro
Screenshot: PC Invasion
  • Unlock Requirement: Win a run on Blue Stake difficulty or higher

I found the most success with Flushes when I started with Balatro, and the Checkered deck heavily reflects this play style. The Checkered deck has no Clubs or Diamonds; instead, it has 26 Hearts and Spades. With only two suits, you can focus on Flushes, although you require specific Jokers to take the deck to the next level:

  • Wrathful/Lustful Joker (common): Give +4 Mult per Spade and Heart, respectively. If you’re targeting Flushes, you’ll often get +20 Mult per Hand with these Jokers.
  • The Tribe (rare): This card gives x2 Mult to hands containing Flushes. The multiplier is incredible for Flush-based decks and can lead to ridiculous hand scores.
  • Four Fingers (Uncommon): If you have Four Fingers, you can make Flushes and Straights with four cards instead of five. You’ll see Flushes and Straights more often with this Joker, but remember that your hands will be less valuable with fewer cards. 
  • Shortcut (Uncommon): The Shortcut Joker allows you to make Straights with gaps (2,4,5,7,8, for example). This Joker gives you some real flexibility and makes Straight Flushes a viable option. Straight Flushes are the highest-value hand in Balatro, and the Checkered Deck with Shortcut is a great way to see them more often.

Best Strategies in Balatro

It would be disingenuous for me to declare any strategy ‘the best’ as your games are decided by the cards you draw. Still, if you’re struggling to get that elusive first win, here’s a few things to try:

Try a Flush deck

I had a lot of success with Flush decks when I was a beginner, and they’re easy to spot and prioritize. You can sort your hand by suit, and most Jokers that support this strategy are easy to understand. Celestial Packs are worth opening for a chance at the Jupiter Card, which grants bonuses to every Flush you make.

Shops are important

Shops can make and break runs in Balatro, which is why the Green and Yellow decks are so strong. If you can give your deck an identity early, you can spend the rest of the run fine-tuning it. Tarot Cards are a great way to boost the power of your deck, but don’t neglect Vouchers and Jokers.

Your Joker order matters

You can have up to 5 Jokers at a time and change their positions by dragging them. Your Joker order is important as their bonuses are applied from left to right. With this in mind, having your X Mult cards to the right is usually a good idea, so they multiply the additive Mult of other Jokers. 

It’s ok to skip Blinds

Best decks and strategies in Balatro
Screenshot: PC Invasion

As a new player, it’s tempting never to skip a Blind as you earn cash for winning rounds. However, you earn Tags for skipping, which can be game-changing. Tags can give you free Card Packs and powerful bonuses that can secure the entire run. Make sure you check the available Tag before a match (pictured above), as the bonuses can be far more beneficial than a small chunk of change.

Don’t wait for the perfect run

Above all, my best tip is to work with the hand you have. My biggest mistake as a new player was waiting for that ‘dream run.’ For example, Flush decks are great, but they simply won’t work if you’re flooded with Jokers that aid Pairs or High Cards. There are 150 Jokers in Balatro at the time of writing, and you may never see that perfect combination. It’s a great idea to experiment with cards you’re uncomfortable with, as you never know when that niche knowledge will come in handy.

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