Joe Trivia

Generally speaking, trivia has a three-day work week and a four-day weekend.  That is, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are pretty chock full of options if you’re looking for a game, while Friday through Monday is pretty dead.  For most of the more casual trivia players this probably isn’t an issue, but for some of us at POW! Trivia the idea of going four whole days without a good trivia night is absolute lunacy.    So we began searching for places to play on Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday nights.  Enter Joe Trivia.

Primarily operating in northern New Jersey, Joe Trivia has grown into a local trivia empire.  It’s 40+ locations heavily concentrated in the northeastern corner of the state means that if you’re out looking for trivia anywhere in Bergen, Essex, or Passaic county, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll run into them sooner than later.  And most exciting of all, they even have a handful of locations that host trivia nights on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  For this we at POW! would like to offer a special word of thanks for preventing us from going into trivia withdrawal.  Not all heroes wear capes.

Structure-wise, Joe Trivia games are short, yet complex.  There are four rounds of four questions each with each question being assigned a point value at the discretion of the team.  Rounds 1 and 3 have point values of 1, 3, 5, and 7 points while rounds 2 and 4 have values of 2, 4, 6, and 8 points.  You can use each point value once per round.  So basically if you’re 100% sure of your answer to the first question, you want to use the highest point value.  If you’re not sure at all, you want to use the lowest.  But the latter decision carries some risk, since you can’t use that low point value again.  So while not knowing question 1 might only cost you 1 point, not knowing another answer later in that same round might cost you 5 or 7 points.

At the end of each round of 4 questions is a bonus question of sorts.  After rounds 1 and 3, the bonus questions are generally ones with multi-part answers, with each part worth 3 or 4 points.  Name all five events in a pentathlon, for example.  Rounds 2 and 4 are Final Jeopardy style questions, in which you wager a certain amount of points that you win if you get the answer right… but lose if you don’t.  You can bet up to 10 points on the question after round 2 and up to 30 after round 4, which means that the final question of the night will determine the winner of nearly every game.

Another interesting wrinkle to the structure of Joe Trivia is that you need to hand in your answer to every question right after the question is asked.  Generally, you have about 3 minutes to get your answer sheet into the host’s hands after they finishing asking the question or it doesn’t count.  For this reason I’ve nicknamed it Cardio Trivia- you can burn a lot of calories sprinting back and forth to the host’s table to turn in answer sheets during a single game.

To be honest both the format and questions of Joe Trivia leave something to be desired, but then again beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to finding trivia on non-weeknights.  Any port in a storm, I guess.  We’re just trying to get by until all it’s time for all the good mid-week trivia nights again.  Is it Tuesday yet?

Overall: 5/10

Questions: 4/10– Not one of the more challenging trivia companies around, in a game of 20 questions it’s entirely possible that you’ll only get 2 or 3 that really make you think.  But for less experienced trivia players this is a great game to start with since the point structure almost ensures that the better teams won’t be able to run away with the game early on.

Structure:  7/10– It took me 3 full paragraphs to try to explain the structure, and this is a game with only 20 questions on the night.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether that’s a positive or a negative.  Multi-taskers can rejoice at the opportunity to work out mind and body at the same time: make sure you bring your running shoes, you’ll need them when you’re sprinting to get those answer sheets up to the host before the 3 minute deadline.

Hosts:  6/10– Like any of the larger trivia companies Joe Trivia relies on a stable of hired hosts to run trivia nights.  Though hired hosts are generally of less quality than hosts that write their own questions, I’ve found the Joe Trivia hosts better than those of comparable companies like Let’s Go Trivia in the Hudson Valley.

Venues: Railyard Tavern (Tues), Twin Door Tavern (Sun); If you’re in the northern NJ region there are literally dozens of Joe Trivia venues and there are trivia nights taking place every day of the week- check out their website for more info.