The Hand You’re Dealt

Today’s post comes from Wessew.

I love playing cards. I rarely ever make a wager on card playing, so my love is not based on avariciousness.

I enjoy making the best of what I am dealt. Early on Crazy Eights and Go Fish were my games of choice. Then, several winter nights in 1963, my whole deck was changed. My sisters and I were taught how to play Pinochle. There was a three day blizzard with little to do except watch the white world outside or the black and red world inside at the table. Pinochle is a great card game. The card combination of Queen of Spades and Jack of Diamonds is key to play and from where the game gets it’s name. The worth of those two in one hand depends on the scoring system you use. In our home system, a single Pinochle was melded as 4 points and a double Pinochle as 30 points. Thus were we trained that Spades and Diamonds go together.

Then we learned the game of Hearts. The object is to score the least points. Typically a heart card in your hand at the end of a hand of play counted one point against you. The Queen of Spades counted 13 against you; a very, very bad card unless you also took ALL the other Hearts in which case you have “shot the moon” and now give every other player 26 points. “Shooting The Moon” was always a coup. Being the last player below 100 points meant you were the victor. One summer, my workmates and I engaged in a four player Hearts tournament. The first guy to win ten games was the winner. We played at break and at lunch for days on end until it came to this: We had each won 9 games and each, in what had to be the final hand, had 90 points each. We were so evenly matched that it reminds me of a Vulcan mind meld. Whomever was ahead was to be dealt with harshly. We knew who needed to get the queen and just enough hearts to keep the game alive. Now we were at a final reckoning. No longer allies. I will never forget that moment. We were working laying carpet at a school in Cannonball, North Dakota. (Very near the site of the present civil disobedience action regarding the pipeline.) We declared victory for all of us and never played the last hand. It felt wonderful.

I play Whist, Canasta, Cribbage, Rummy and Oh Heck among many other card games but the one game I have yet to learn is Bridge. I would love to learn for one simple reason: I understand that in trying to score the best hand possible one can declare “NOTRUMP”. Let me learn and may the Gods of Luck deal me hands for which I can bid….NO DAMN TRUMP.

What is your favorite suit? Why are Clubs so neglected in card playing?

49 thoughts on “The Hand You’re Dealt”

  1. I was seriously hooked on Hearts in jr high/high school. Also played a lot of penny-ante poker with my buddies. Never learned bridge, but always wanted to learn to play Whist because Horatio Hornblower of the CS Forester novels was an expert Whist player. I guess my favorite suit if you put a gun to my head and said “Choose” is diamonds. No reason.

    C in O

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Found this at while googling to refresh my memory of the game Lily Bart loses:

        Ten of the best card games in literature
        John Mullan cuts the pack

        The Rape of the Lock, by Alexander Pope Coquettish Belinda plays at ombre with two male admirers. You can follow the game card by card until the last trick, on which it all turns. “An Ace of Hearts steps forth: The King unseen / Lurk’d in her Hand, and mourn’d his captive Queen. / He springs to Vengeance with an eager pace, / And falls like Thunder on the prostrate Ace”. Belinda wins!

        The Prelude, by William Wordsworth The poet recalls the card games of childhood, but now the play seems prophetic of the conflicts he would witness as an adult, particularly in revolutionary France. The boys’ grubby playing cards prophesy the future.

        Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen The Bertrams play “speculation” with Fanny and the cunning Crawfords. The contest is an enactment of the amorous games these two are also playing. Henry keeps “helping” Fanny; Mary flaunts her daring: “I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me”.

        Queen of Spades, by Alexander Pushkin Hermann sits with his fellow officers every night, watching them gamble yet not playing himself. But he is truly a man obsessed, and when he hears that old Countess Fedorovna has the secret of winning at cards, he employs every means to extract it from her, including courting her ward Lizaveta. He thinks he has obtained the secret, but at the table the queen of spades does for him.

        Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens Young Pip is invited by rich Miss Havisham to play cards with beautiful Estella and to be mocked. “‘He calls the knaves Jacks, this boy!’ said Estella with disdain.” The contest is torment. “She won the game, and I dealt. I misdealt, as was only natural, when I knew she was lying in wait for me to do wrong.” Naturally he falls for her.

        The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton Impecunious Lily Bart is addicted to playing cards for money. The main pastime of upper-crust society seems to be bridge, for high stakes. Lily loses, while “Judy Trenor, who could have afforded to lose a thousand a night, had left the table clutching such a heap of bills that she had been unable to shake hands with her guests when they bade her good night.” Tragedy looms.

        The Home of the Gentry, by Ivan Turgenev Every suspect character in Turgenev’s stories seems dedicated to playing “preference”, a kind of three-handed whist. Lavretsky’s unfaithful wife Varvara is naturally a devotee. “Varvara Pavlovna was quite devoted to preference; at this Marya Dmitrievna was so delighted that she felt quite overcome . . .”

        The Golden Bowl, by Henry James Maggie watches as her husband plays bridge with her father, her step-mother, and clever Mrs Assingham. All attention is concentrated on the codified play of the cards, but the play reveals more to the attentive spectator, for Maggie’s husband and step-mother are secret lovers.

        My Lady Love, My Dove, by Roald Dahl Arthur and Pamela Beauchamp have some friends, the Snapes, for the weekend. For a jest, they instal a microphone in the Snapes’ bedroom. After losing a considerable sum at bridge to their visitors, the Beauchamps listen in and discover that their “friends” have a system for cheating at cards. Now they can cheat too . . .

        Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey The eponymous protagonists of Carey’s novel, set in the 19th century, meet on a voyage from England to Australia. They are brought together by their shared love of gambling, enjoying a long, sexily tense, one- on-one game of poker for penny bets. Never will either be happier.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Husband was addicted to Sheepshead, the rules of which I never could understand.

    My dad’s family were great poker players. My Aunt Elaine is said to have thrown a chair through the glass window of the Magnolia, MN pool hall in the wee hours of the morning to break up my Uncle Alvin’s poker game. Alvin usually won, and is said to have acquired farm land this way.

    My mom’s family didn’t play cards. Grandma wouldn’t allow them in the house.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m all hearts — but I do love my diamonds come to think of it. 🙂 Personally, I am not a card player. Of course, we played Uno and Go Fish when we were kids — fun easy games with no real strategy. Then I married Jim and married into a family who LOVED playing cards. I learned to play Cribbage, Whist and a little bit of Bridge just to survive in the family gatherings.

    Unfortunately, his dad is a very competitive card player. I remember early on in our marriage I was partners with F-I-L in Cribbage one time. I have no sense of strategy or keeping track of cards, and one play I put down a “not good” card for our team. Russ could only say, “oh, Jo …” with a barely suppressed groan of disappointment. I was mortified. I don’t think I ever was his partner again in Cribbage.

    I prefer word games like Scrabble.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Rise and Play Your Hand Baboons!

    I am a cribbage player. Much of my mother’s family played hearts. I am sure it has been 10 years since I have been part of one of those games, and I have forgotten the rules. Getting the hang of running’ ’em was beyond me. I never seem to forget the cribbage rules—with the exception of Muggins which I forgot almost always.

    I think it is interesting how the playing cards developed from Tarot decks–yes I do that. Diamonds derive from pentacles (Money); Hearts from Cups (Love); Clubs from Wands; Spades from Swords(Cognition and intellect). I believe the neglect of clubs comes from the abstract nature of the meaning of wands. Wands signify emotional energy and spirit, as well as purpose. The other concepts are just so much more concrete.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Running them is part of hearts,where you collect all the hearts then everybody else gets loaded up on points.

        Muggins is part of Cribbage. If another player overlooks a score and you see it, you say Muggins and you get the points.


  5. i enjoy my poker. have a gorp that gets together every 1st thursday and the big winner /loser is always in the 15 dollar range.i had pnemonia teice when i was a kid and my mom got me bridge for 1. kind of like playing against the newspaper. i wold like to learn just because i respect bill gates and warren buffet. i enjoy hearts but if i get with one of those gys who runs the table with thequeen and 13 tricks i am over my head. when i was a kid we played gin rummy and had an ongoing summer long game listening to the twins gmes in ray dewberrys back yard wooden lawn chairs, cribbage was my gret grandfaterhs game and i played it with my best firend ank kept score on the caander for a year or so until he got ahead 800 to 500 and i jst wasnt going to catch up.
    as for wesew and the no score keeping chris wold be appaled to know i paly gold with the no score keeping rle with my bos. they are so competitive that they kill each other when too far behind and so if i dont let them write it down and focs ont he next shot instead of the last one it comes out a lot better.
    i did have a natral straight flush ( the exact hand pictured ace high spade flsh dealt to me two monts ago and won 5 dollars with may be my first ever royal flsh with no wild cards in all my years of playing. only 5 bucks but thats the way i roll these days.
    clbs are loooked down on because of the assendign vale of the suits (it is alphabetical in value) clubs lowest then diamonds then hearts and then spades. spades wins because its higher. do you want a 5 dollar bill or a 100 dollar bill? your call.
    thanks gang.
    fun to have the new get blogs rolling in. one a month is perfect 2 is above and beyond the call.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I come from a long line of card players (bridge, cribbage, gin rummy) but somehow the bug never bit me. My dad was a serious bridge player – he belonged to a drop-in bridge club. He would just go over to the little community center and there was ALWAYS somebody there. There was some money involved but never big stakes. I remember he was pretty happy to win $3 once.

    He learned a harsh gambling lesson from his grandmother, Myrtle. The summer he was 18, he lived at her place in Spooner while he had a seasonal job. At the end of the summer, flush with his salary, he made the mistake of sitting down to play poker with Myrtle and some of her cronies. Myrtle didn’t hold back and by the end of the night, the three friends had won most of my dad’s money. And didn’t give it back. He learned his lesson that night; all the time I was growing up, gin rummy and poker were played with matchsticks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gave the post a LIKE and started to do an entry at which point the power went out. Came on while I was at PT.
    Used to love bridge and 500. When we moved here we lost all our playing partners. We need unique partners: tolerate our ignorance, allow a little chatter, not very competitive. For years we played bridge with the naturalist at Gooseberry Park in his little house right by the refectory. Such a wonderful pair they are. But they are not up to it anymore.
    Sandy and I used to play cribbage. Mr. Tuxedo now wants to learn how to play. I am not a fan anymore of cards or board games. Will have to make myself play some Scrabble with Sandy.
    OT: My TENS machine just shut off. my first try at it. Sandy has to put the pads on me. See how it does. But I am so much better after the shots in my back and neck. Still cannot control fingers.
    OT: when my grand daughter was ages 3-5 I said she had very high math aptitude. Then she went to school and struggled in math in grades 1-3. In grades 4 and 5 she did all right. They put her in the lower group. But in grade 6 the teacher quickly moved her to the higher group. Now in grade 8 she is way ahead of the class. Math education is a challenge. Lots of kids are like that, hard to read their real math skills.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My current math teacher says they don’t know how to teach math in elementary school. I think she’s doing a good job at the college level, introductory class; but I would agree the beginnings of math; that’s the hard part.


  8. After I was ousted from the English department and the math/science department adopted me, I and five math science teachers would play a couple games of hearts over lunch in the back science room. then we started bringing in the parts to make a big salad to share. those were good days.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Really fun post, wes. I actually like clubs the best – lilke the roundness, no sharp pointy stuff.

    I wish I had learned pinochle – the guys in my dad’s family always played it at gatherings, but I’ve never had the opportunity to learn it.
    I did love to play:
    Hearts in the Trailer Court after suppers down at Doug M’s trailer (central location).
    Gin with my best friend from high school.
    Double solitaire with my mom in 5th grade or so… then later on Nuts, a variation with any number of players and so many Aces in the center you can’t keep track…
    Bridge in the Iowa State Memorial Union, probably just to meet people; didn’t stick with it afterward because I’d rather talk to people than remember who played what.
    Two-handed cribbage with Husband has gotten us though some rough spots.
    and I love a kind of solitaire I learned as “Golf”, where I get to basically sort the cards by suit into four strings King high. (You can put the two of clubs on an open three of clubs…)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If you are from NE MN you know how to play Schmear. Wonder if that is still true. My parents loved playing that game with two other couples. Schmear: high. low, jack, jick, game, etc. In Chicago from a Polish guy I learned a short version called by another Polish word like Schmear. Cannot remember it right now.


  11. Holidays with my dad’s family always included poker. games. When his boys were young, Uncle Alvin would let them sit on his lap while he played, and my cousins grew up learning the whys and hows of poker and how to think when you played poker. My paternal grandmother was a great pinochle player, but she loved to cheat, and people had to watch her pretty carefully to make sure she wasn’t scamming them.

    I have always found card games to be really, really boring. Maybe I just don’t like not being able to control the outcome. (Maybe that is why Grandma cheated).

    My maternal grandmother threw her elderly father out of her house because he wouldn’t stop playing card games in Hatfield, a little town near their farm, which was near Pipestone. She never forgave him for losing his fortune in Germany by gambling. My mom thought Grandma was wrong to throw him out, as all we was doing toward the end was playing for pennies. His other daughter wouldn’t take him in, either. He died alone in an apartment in Pipestone.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Grandma had a pretty conflictual relationship with her dad. He had been in the Prussian Army before his marriage , and called his daughters his “little soldiers” and was pretty strict and autocratic toward them.


  12. So I have been watching and waiting for anyone of us to latch on to the last sentence NO-TRUMP and NO DAMN TRUMP. What a hand we have been dealt politically. I am still sad and scared. I am looking for ways to become active in creating effective ways to check and balance.

    To this point the press is still so enamored with the WIN-LOSE part of the election, that they are missing the subtleties, such as how will he govern a nation in which our new Dear Leader lost the vote by a lot?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every day I read about Trump’s appointees and am appalled anew each day. I can barely stand to read past the headlines.

      I’m not much of a card player and bridge never sounded appealing to me, but if it lets you say NO TRUMP, maybe I should learn it.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. One of our house rules for Pinochle is that if you are dealt 5 nines with no meld, you can declare a misdeal. If you get 6 nines you can automatically throw the hand in. With Trump, it feels as though I have been dealt 8 nines but still have to bid. Maybe I can bluff my way through but it feels hopeless.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. I’m in a group that gets together occasionally to play Hand and Foot, which is a variation on Canasta.

    I have a cookie press to make spritz cookies, and among the shapes you can choose for your cookies are the four suits. I suppose they designed those so ladies’ card groups could serve theme cookies on their game days. I like that idea, but I’ve never actually brought spritz cookies to a card game. Perhaps I will make it a point to do that someday.

    The club shape is the best one for shaping spritz cookies. That’s my opinion, anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m not a card player unless you count Klondike Solitaire, in which case I’m a compulsive card player. I instinctively prefer hearts and diamonds because red, unlike black, is one of the colors of living things. As a Solitaire player I have trained myself to resist having favorite suits because humoring those preferences makes me a lesser player.


  15. Please do learn Bridge. It is the most wonderful game, with never ending complexities. I am a lousy player, but still enjoy it greatly. Whereas my sweetheart is an expert, playing in Germany’s federal Bridge league. He never tires of the game.

    Liked by 1 person

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