A Lifetime of Playing Cards

We play our games the same way we play life.

What’s your favorite card game?
And when was the last time you played it?

Sitting down to a game of cards with another has to be one of the best shared activities for getting to know new people or for reconnecting with friends and family.

The other night while at a friend’s for a poker party, I realized just how long playing cards have been in my life, pretty much ever since I could count.

I play cards on a regular basis. These past several months – the last Thursday of each – I join Mom and our cousins for pot luck lunch and cards. The food is always amazing and the company is familiar and fun. For a couple of hours after lunch we play, all the while catching up on what’s new and exciting since last time we gathered.

As a toddler I fell asleep in my bed to the comforting sounds of enjoyable conversation, belly laughter, tinkling coins and cards being shuffled around the table. My parents had friends over to visit and play cards regularly, sometimes on a weekend afternoon while the little ones ran ‘round the house – and we did…

I was taught cribbage by my Grandfather at the age of 6, the crib board and a deck of cards was always lying around for a spontaneous game. When family gathered at the cottages we’d all pull a chair up to the table and ante up our pennies, nickels and dimes and play Chase the Ace, 31 or Burn Your Neighbor. Many evenings were filled with joyous hoorays and groans of dismay around the Rummoli board as the winners collected their pots of pennies!

To fill the quieter moments growing up, I constructed dozens of card houses just to see how high I could build them before they tumbled. Before Windows PCs I played many types of solitaire while babysitting, after the homework was done or while on long trips in the car.

Playing card games got me and my Grandma through her spell with her back one summer while staying with her at the lake. Many afternoons we played Chicago or Cribbage on the bed while she rested her legs and back.

Euchre was a staple all through life, don’t remember when or how I learned it, I just know how to play it. It filled the high school lunch hours and spares. On camping trips with the gang a best 2 out of 3 Euchre set decided between the guys and gals who would clean up after dinner, or served as a good time for connection and laughs in the dining tent while it rained. It seems there was always time for a quick game of something at the cottage on a lazy summer afternoon.

Back in the 80s my Dad went into business building custom blackjack and poker tables, he did good work, business grew quickly through word of his craftsmanship. This led eventually to hosting small event charity casinos which became a family business by necessity; as a family we practiced dealing blackjack at the table set up in the living room. For several years BJ Games employed a boat load of people, including me and my bros, as dealers and managers of small-scale charity casino events.

I recall many enjoyable nights as a blackjack dealer flinging cards around packed and noisy tables, mostly, I remember that when the dealer lost everyone else was a winner and the tips were always bigger. Lose-win was win-win!

I played cribbage with my Grandfather for as long as he was able to play before he left us in 2001, whether he could keep up or not, it was good time and space to hold with him while he was here.

I have always wanted to learn to play Bridge, so far connecting with it hasn’t been in the cards. My aunties used to host and attend “Bridge Club”. I used to think this was too serious a game for me. Recently I read that Warren Buffett and Bill Gates play Bridge together. Hey if it’s good enough for these guys, perhaps I’ll like it too?

Wanna’ game of cards?