What a Card


Diminishing card playing is a sign of the changing times we live in.

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We don’t play a game of cards much anymore, games like Bridge, Pinochle, Euchre, Gin Rummy, Hearts, Whist, even “Uno.” Today you mostly see Poker, Blackjack, and Solitaire (on our computers), but that’s about all. Finding someone who knows how to play the other games is few and far between. The playing of cards goes back centuries, but I find its passing into history an interesting sign of our changing times.

We played cards for a variety of reasons; to gamble, to socialize, to improve our mental alertness, or to simply pass the time of day. Both of my grandparents on my father’s side, who were Scottish, were regular card sharks. They competed and won several card tournaments, winning a variety of home related prizes in the process, such as washing machines, air conditioners, blenders, and a variety of other kitchen gadgets. They won so much that they kept their surplus winnings in the attic. When their daughter (my aunt) got married, they told her to help herself to whatever was in the attic, which was quite a bounty.

My parents were avid Bridge players and they participated in several Bridge clubs wherever we lived. Some communities had “Newcomer Clubs” to help people acclimate to their new community and playing Bridge was considered an important part of this process. In other words, people played Bridge more for social purposes than just about anything else. There was usually considerable food to enjoy and alcoholic beverages to imbibe. Couples would take turns hosting Bridge clubs and it became a convenient way to get to know your neighbors. This worked so well, my parents made lifelong friends from such clubs.

As for me, I played Poker in college, but my passion quickly became Pinochle which we played nonstop during exam weeks (when we weren’t studying). I lived in a large Greek fraternity house on campus and it was hard not to find a game of Pinochle going on somewhere in the house. I don’t know why we found the game fascinating other than it requires strategy and sharpens your mental acuity. To us, it was a pleasant distraction from our studies. I found it somewhat addictive; so much so, even today I think I would drop just about anything to play it. There’s only one problem though, not too many people know how to play Pinochle anymore as card playing is diminishing.

If you were to ask a young person today about such games, they would probably yawn and call it “old fashioned” and maybe they’re right, maybe it is not as action packed as “Grand Theft Auto” or “Call of Duty” but I tend to believe such games enhance our socialization skills as well as mental alertness, not to mention our communication skills. Whereas Poker and Blackjack are primarily played for gambling purposes, the other games are played for mental gymnastics and the sheer joy of enjoying the company of others. It makes you wonder which is better for you, a hand of cards with friends, or a quick game on the computer by yourself. Whereas the former encourages extroverted behavior, the latter is more introverted in nature. Bottom-line, this is another fine example of how technology is influencing our behavior.

Keep the Faith!