Escape room

4 Arguments for Poker-Themed Escape Rooms

In the past few years it seems as if just about every imaginable type of escape room has been designed...

In the past few years it seems as if just about every imaginable type of escape room has been designed. This form of entertainment has attained extraordinary popularity in Budapest and around much of Europe. And in our look at escape rooms growth in the US demonstrated, the American market has seen particularly sensational expansion. Naturally, the near-universal suspension of in-person recreation throughout 2020 slowed these trends. But if we assume that more escape rooms will be opening up once it’s safe for people to enjoy them once more, what will they be like?

In some respects it seems like most every theme has been tried (at least save those that would give rise to licensing concerns). There are escape rooms for different eras of history; there are rooms and buildings meant to seem haunted; there are offices, schools, and laboratories. Among some of the best escape rooms in the world, as identified by Fodors, there are even homages to zombie fiction, Sherlock Holmes, and ancient mythologies! The industry is so big at this point that there really don’t seem to be too many missing themes.

One that does seem strangely overlooked, however, is poker. Given the classic card game’s worldwide popularity, and how unique and recognizable poker rooms and/or casinos can be, it’s actually a shame that — as far as we know — there is not yet a prominent escape room of this kind. And there are a few clear arguments as to why this would likely be a very popular attraction.

1. Surrounding Features

First off is the fact that the features around a poker room can be more exciting than just a poker table and some chairs. Imagine for instance an escape room in which a professional-caliber poker table is the centerpiece, but there are also slot machines along one wall, a stocked bar counter along another, and ornate lighting fixtures and decorations dotted here and there. These kinds of extras would make for all sorts of interesting clue and riddle potential, incorporating anything from slot reel spins to trick mirrors. In other words, a poker theme goes beyond a poker table.

2. The Game Itself

With all of the above said, it’s also intriguing to think that the actual game of poker could have a part to play in solving clues — such that participants would actually have to know their stuff before taking on the challenge. This doesn’t mean that only expert players would stand a chance. But there are plenty of fairly basic aspects of the game that could factor in. First and foremost, knowing the value of different poker hands could be a key factor in solving certain riddles. This may seem basic, but according to Poker.org some of the most commonly asked questions about the game concern hand values, indicating this could actually make for a fun sort of challenge unto itself. Whether that means identifying the winning hand between a straight, flush, and full house already laid out on the table, finding a card that would complete a hand to win a pot in order to unveil a fresh hint, or anything of this sort, the game of poker could play a role. Similarly, players could benefit from knowing how poker betting works, or how cards are traditionally dealt. Any of these things would just add another dimension, or a sort of game within the game, that most escape rooms lack.

3. Poker Room Mystique

If you’re not a poker enthusiast, you may hear “poker room” and think of a dingy basement, or a nondescript corner in a hotel lobby. Certainly there are rooms around the world that fit this description. What we’re really envisioning though is a richer environment that captures some of the beauty and mystique of the world’s best poker rooms. Architectural Digest's look at these rooms reveals luxurious locations packed with gilded décor, chandeliers, red carpets and high mirrors. Of course they’re not all the same, and an escape room would be but an imitation. But from Casino Baden-Baden in Germany, to Casino de Monte-Carlo, to some of the fanciest rooms in Las Vegas, there’s a certain prevailing aesthetic that would make for a unique, mysterious, and enjoyable escape room atmosphere.

4. Psychological Fit

The other factor that really intrigues us about a poker-themed escape room is the psychology of it all. One enters a poker room prepared to engage mentally, compete for prizes, and most importantly see through deception. These are in a sense the core elements of the game, and they happen to fit flawlessly with the mindset one needs to conquer a good escape room. It is thus easy to imagine the setting bringing out the best in hopeful escapees.

Aside from a couple of casino heist-themed rooms out in the world, we don’t really know of a room like this. But the good news is, if the escape room trend does push forward in the next year or two, we’ll start to see more themes and innovations. In time, a poker room seems almost inevitable.

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