Blindfold Dealer Poker Games

About a year ago, I talked about why building a poker game is difficult – poker is a multi-player game, and if there are no other players online to play with you, you can’t play.  Unlike poker apps built by the Las Vegas Casinos, there aren’t millions of visually impaired poker players ready to play.

poker hand and chips

I first created Blindfold Video Poker – it emulates Las Vegas style video poker machines.  One fan wanted more of a poker experience, so he sent me a link to an online poker site. At this site, instead of playing poker against other players, you play against a computer dealer with very strict rules, in one of 7 different games.

For example, in Three Card Poker, you start by making an initial bet.  Next you and the dealer are dealt three cards each, face-down.  After you look at your cards, you can either fold and lose the bet, or bet the same amount again.

Then you and the dealer show your cards.  If your hand is better, you win.  If the dealer’s hand is better, you lose.  If you won, and you had a good hand (like 3 of a kind), you can win several times what you originally bet.

There are two  side bets you can make in this game that makes it more interesting.  Regardless of who won, if you win one of the side bets, you can get a lot more money.

The side bet called “Pair Plus” pays you (even if you lost to the dealer) if you have a pair or better in your hand.  The best payout on Pair Plus bets is 40 to 1 for a straight flush.

The side bet called “6-Card Bonus” combines your three cards with the dealer’s three cards, and the best 5 cards out of those 6 cards determines the payoff.  A royal flush pays off at 1000 to 1.

When playing Three Card Poker included in Blindfold Video Poker, you must consider about 3 different strategies at once: beating the dealer, winning the Pair Plus bet, and winning the 6 Card Bonus bet.  We’ve added several Dealer Poker games like Three Card Poker to the Video Poker game, and we’ll be adding more.

Click to download the game:  Blindfold Video Poker




Blindfold Games: Braille #3

We looked at several ways to make Braille Spin and Solve easier for people just learning braille.  For example, we thought we could vary game difficulty by varying the number of contractions in a word.

braille finger reading braille text

Some words, like CANDY, have only one contraction, but other words, like ABBREVIATIONS, has two contractions in its contracted form.  It is quite difficult to write programming code to determine the number of contractions in the contracted form, since it’s not always clear which dot patterns belong to each contraction.

Speaking again with the braille teachers, we decided to break out the complexity of the game based on the following:

  • One full word contraction, such as “AF” for “AFTER”.
  • Only one of the words in the phrase being contracted and it contains only one contraction, such as CANDY in the phrase CANDY IS DANDY, BUT LIQUOR IS QUICKER.
  • Only one of the words in the phrase is contracted, but that word can contain multiple contractions, such as the word I’M BAFFLED, but only the word “BAFFLED” would be contracted.
  • Up to two words with contractions.
  • Up to 3, 4, or 5 words with contractions.
  • No limit to the number of words with contractions.

Now that the game player can pick her level of difficulty, we had to make it even easier to enter both letters, vowels, and dot patterns.

While the game does work with a braille display, we found most users do not have a braille display connected to their iPhone or iPad.  To enter a dot pattern, such as dot 1,2,3,4,6 for the fragment “AND”, you simply type the dot character, and the digits 1,2,3,4 and 6.  To guess the full word CANDY, you would enter the letter “C”, dot, 1,2,3,4,6, and the letter “Y”.

With those changes, everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and the game is gaining popularity amongst braille teachers at many of the schools for the blind.

Blindfold Games: 7 Tiny Words

Blindfold Word Games, which includes Hangman, Word Flick (similar to Boggle), Word Ladder and Unscramble, has built quite a following.  Recently, people have been asking for more games, and the first one I decided to tackle was 7 Little Words.

Seven Little Words is a game where the puzzle board is 20 squares laid out in 5 columns and 4 rows as seen here:

7 words grid


For each word, there’s a definition given, and you need to find that word by combining several word fragments together.  For example, in the above puzzle board, the definition “detects with one’s nose” would be the word SMELLS, by combining SME in the lower right corner with LLS in the lower left corner.

The game was fairly easy to create, since I already had a dictionary component that I’ve used in other games, including word ladder, and breaking up a word into different parts is rather complex.

If you have 7 words, and you want to break them into pieces to generate 20 word fragments, each fragment needs to be between 2 and 4 letters long.  Ideally, no fragment should give away the word, so you must break up the fragments differently from how the word is pronounced.  You also have to handle conditions where breaking up all of the words ends up generating more than 20 fragments, so you have to go back and find a different combination.  And you need to handle the condition where you have less than 20 fragments, and have to fill it in with useless fragments that don’t generate a alternate solution for the word definition.

Once I completed building that program, the rest of the game went quite smoothly.  You navigate by flicking up, down, left and right, and you select a fragment by double tapping.  Hints come in 3 varieties: the first letter of the word, the first fragment of the word, or the solution.  Like other games, you can post your scores to Twitter or Facebook.





Blindfold Games: Braille #2

Last week, I described why we picked Blindfold Spin and Solve as the starting point for a braille contractions game.

braille for words but, have, go, like

Blindfold Spin and Solve has over 12,000 phrases, such as “A BLESSING IN DISGUISE”.  To prepare the game to use contracted braille, I created a dictionary of all words in the phrases – about 8,000 of them – and used software created by Duxbury Systems to convert the word to its contracted form.  Thanks to Neal and several people at the Hadley school who helped with the conversion.

Next we had to come up with a set of rules on how to play the game.  In Blindfold Spin and Solve, you can either buy a vowel, or spin the wheel to determine your prize, and then guess a letter.  You can also guess the entire phrase.

In Braille Spin and Solve, you can buy a dot pattern, a vowel, or spin the wheel to determine your prize, and then guess a letter.  You can also guess the entire phrase.

As you swipe from word to word, the game tells you how many letters in the uncontracted word, and how many cells in the contracted form. If you remember from the prior blog, the contracted form of the word “CANDY” is the letter C, the dot pattern for the fragment “AND”, and the letter Y.  As you swipe on the word CANDY, the game tells you the contracted form has 3 cells, and the uncontracted form has 5 letters.

The game also gives you hints to make it easier.  If you guess a letter that’s not in the contracted word, but is in the uncontracted word, it tells you.  With the contracted form of the word “CANDY”, if you guess the letter “N”, the game tells you that the letter “N” is in the uncontracted form of the word, but it’s not in the puzzle.

We released the first version of Braille Spin and Solve to beta testers who taught braille, and they liked the general direction of the game.  However, they said it was way too hard, and requested that the game be easier for most people.

Blind Abilities Podcast: Who won the race?

Blind Abilities presents this follow up interview with Project Starfish after their successful completion of the first ever Blindfold Racer Championship.

Championship Logo

Join Jeff Thompson and Pete Lane and their guests, Nazreen, Labisha and Karl,  as they break down the challenges and achievements of this unique worldwide competition. The challenge spanned  60 countries and thousands of participants in the first undertaking of its kind in the blindness community. Hear about the workings of this huge undertaking and the true sense of community that it yielded.

Also, learn more about Project Starfish and how it might provide meaningful  career opportunities for ambitious and eager individuals.