Early this week, US chess maestro Eric Rosen took down the Challengers Choker Cup title (a competition that combines chess and poker skills in one unique game), defeating Canadian chess queen Alexandra Botez.
Choker, a game played on a mobile app that launched late last year features the betting action of poker but requires chess skills to win at showdown.
What is Choker anyway?
Players begin each hand with two cards drawn from a deck of 44. That deck includes 4 queens, 8 rooks, 8 bishops, 8 knights, and 16 pawns. Players receive 2 more cards after a round of standard heads-up poker betting. If neither player folds, each would receive a 5th card, followed by a final round of betting. All cards remain face down throughout the hand.
If the hand goes to showdown, the players take their game to the chessboard where each would start with a king and a lone pawn. From there, the 2 sides alternate placing the rest of their pieces. Then, they compete in a game of blitz chess with the winner picking up the pot. Similar to a heads-up tournament, a player wins the match by taking all their opponent’s chips.
Which brings us back to the Challenger Choker Cup. The competition this time extended their invitation to 8 players, with the winner taking on Choker ambassador, Hikaru Nakamura in a grand finale.
Choker matches use a starting stack of just 10 big blinds, and the blinds increase after every hand. That heavily weights the results toward chess skills, just for now maybe.
Nakamura states that even the best chess players need to have some skills in the poker portion of the game to stand out from the crowd, “Obviously, if you’re really good at chess, but you’re not good at understanding betting and you just assume, ‘Hey, I’m Hikaru Nakamura, I’ve got a queen and then I get four pawns, and I can just beat anybody,’ it’s probably not going to work out very well.’