Image via LocalThunk

How to order Jokers in Balatro

Balatro's order of operations.

Maximizing your score in Balatro can involve some shuffling of cards. You can—and should—select and drag your Joker cards to reorder them in a way that increases your score. Knowing how Joker order plays into score calculations can make or break your run, so let’s get into the details.

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Does Joker order matter in Balatro?

Yes, the order your Jokers are in does matter. Unless otherwise stated, Joker card effects trigger from left to right. This means that +Mult and XMult effects will trigger in the order their respective cards are in. In order to maximize your score with the largest Mult, you should ensure your +Mult Jokers are to the left of your XMult Jokers.

Here’s an example of me doubling my score with the same three Jokers simply by ordering them differently.

I have Joker Stencil (X3 Mult), Popcorn (+12 Mult), and then Ice Cream (+90 Chips). When I play a hand, my Jokers trigger from left to right, resulting in these actions:

  1. I’ve played a straight which results in 55 base Chips and 4 base Mult.
  2. Joker Stencil triggers first, multiplying the base Mult by 3. (4 X 3 = 12 Mult)
  3. Popcorn triggers next, adding 12 to the Mult. (12 + 12 = 24 Mult)
  4. Ice Cream triggers last, adding 90 Chips. (55 + 90 = 145 Chips)
  5. The final calculation is 145 Chips X 24 Mult = 3,480 final score.
Screenshot by Destructoid

In this case, I only ended up with 24 total Mult. The placement of the Ice Cream card doesn’t matter since the final “Chips X Mult” calculation is always performed at the very end of scoring.

Now let’s look at another round where I have Ice Cream (+95 Chips), Popcorn (+16 Mult), and Joker Stencil (X3 Mult) in that order. The exact numbers are different because Popcorn and Ice Cream’s effects change over time. This results in the following order of actions:

  1. I’ve played a two pair which results in 34 base Chips and 2 base Mult.
  2. Ice Cream triggers first, adding 95 to the Chips count. (34 + 95 = 129 Chips)
  3. Popcorn triggers next, adding 16 to the Mult count. (2 + 16 = 18 Mult)
  4. Joker Stencil triggers last, multiplying the total Mult by 3. (18 X 3 = 54 Mult)
  5. The final calculation is 129 Chips X 54 Mult = 6,966 final score.
Screenshot by Destructoid

With this hand, I achieved a much higher Mult than with my previous hand, which increased my score dramatically. This is the optimal order for these Jokers since the +Mult effect triggers before the XMult effect. I’ve essentially tripled the efficacy of my Popcorn card. Ice Cream adds to the Chips count independently of whatever’s going on with the Mult calculations, so it can be placed anywhere.

Exceptions

There are a few exceptions to the left-to-right rule. One is for Jokers that trigger “when a card is scored.” These effects always trigger at the time the triggering card is factored into scoring, before all other calculations. 

This includes Jokers like Greedy Joker, which gives +4 Mult when a diamond card is scored. The +4 Mult effects will happen as each card is scored at the very beginning of the calculations, regardless of where the Greedy Joker is in your lineup.

Certain other Jokers, like Baseball Card, always appear to trigger last, even though their descriptions don’t specify. If a Joker isn’t behaving like you expect, it may be one of these exceptions.


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Author
Christine Choi
Contributing Writer - Christine has been gaming since she first stole her brother's Game Boy as a kid. She's come a long way since then and has been creating content for Genshin Impact since 2021.