I have many fond memories of card games as a child, but in every one of those memories, I’m shuffling the cards wrong. I have no intention of learning how to do it ‘right’ either.
My mother taught me how to play my first card games: Go Fish and Slap Jack. I was 3-4 years old when I sat across the kitchen table from her, learning how to shuffle cards. Despite being severely right-handed, I shuffle left-handed due to my attempts to mirror my mother’s hands as she shuffled. When I was a little older, she taught me how to play Pinochle and Solitaire. Pinochle was difficult because of the ‘meld’ phase and figuring out the score after each hand. I felt ‘grown up’ when we played Pinochle though.
My father taught me how to play Cribbage. The game was a challenge to master, because you had to know how to catch each point that you had earned. If you didn’t spot a card combination, you missed out on those points. Keeping score on the wooden peg board was a fun, visual way to represent who was winning. O’ to be skunked! Such shame!
There was one card game to rule them all, however. Both sides of my family played Euchre. I remember that when I was about 9 years old, my biggest wish at a family holiday on the farm was for one of my parents or uncles to have to use the rest room so that I could sit in for a hand. If there was a family reunion or a picnic, you can bet that someone brought out a deck of cards and a heated game would ensue.
There was tradition and speculation involved in the games. My maternal grandmother was often jokingly accused of cheating by kicking her partner under the table. When she paired up with my father, they almost always won. On the underside of her card table was a small stain, a gravy spot. It was, of course, considered lucky to be sitting on that side of the card table.
I learned to play Euchre aggressively, sometimes bidding when I only had a single bower and an ace or two. I counted on my partner to help me win the hand. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. The important lesson that I learned about card games was that everyone wins sometimes and everyone loses sometimes. Just have fun and enjoy the company of the friends and family you’re playing with.
If only that lesson had been extended to board games… more to come on that!