Paul's Poker RPG is a generic, universal RPG mechanism that can resolve a variety of actions by using a standard deck of playing cards and "poker" mechanics.
Characters get fifteen Abilities. The game describes several but notes that characters can select any Abilities they want; they are just a narrative tag describing an Ability that the character has. Attributes may be General, Specific, or Exact. While General Abilities offer a wide range of capability, Specific and Exact Abilities grant a discard bonus (see below). Samples General Abilities are: melee combat, ranged combat, dodging. Sample Specific Abilities are: melee combat - swords, ranged combat - guns, dodging - ranged weapons. Sample Exact Abilities are: melee combat - katana, ranged combat - M16, dodging: bullets. Characters assign a number of "cards" to each ability from an ability array of 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, and 1.
Damage and health are narrative and proceed through several stages from Uninjured to Dead with five injury levels in between. Characters gain experience and can spend the experience by gaining another "card" on an existing ability or by gaining a new "one card" ability.
When a character attempts a non-trivial action the player draws a hand of five cards and then plays the number of cards indicated by the relevant Ability's "card" score (1 through 5). If the score is above five (or if the Attribute is Specific or Exact) the character may perform a discard and draw, as is done in draw poker, to attempt a better hand. The player creates the best poker hand they can by using up to the "card" score of the ability and then plays the hand.
In an uncontested action, the player must beat:
- Average Difficulty: better than an Ace
- Difficult: better than a pair of Aces
- Very Difficult: better than three Aces
In a contested action, the two opponents compare hands and, per poker rules, the best hand succeeds and the other hand fails.
The game refers to Wikipedia's entry on poker hands.