We never forget our student days, and those college years are the setting for memories that stay close to our hearts forever. Now granted, some of those memories might not be ones you wheel out at family gatherings in your dotage, but one image that shines bright and that is safe for uncensored reminiscence, is sitting with some of your closest friends late into the night playing cards.
Sure, there are numerous other games and pastimes these days, especially in this age of mobile technology. But there is something timeless and magical about sitting in a circle and dealing the cards. Likewise, there are some card games that never go out of fashion.
Let’s dive in at the deep end, poker is the most famous and popular card game in the world. However, its association with high stakes gambling, thanks in part to the WSOP and in part to movies like Casino Royale, means it can be a little scary for novices.
Poker basics are actually very simple, and the tech world can provide useful resources to get you started. Gamble Online provides a list of the top Canadian poker sites where you can practice against AI and get to grips with poker principles before you try your luck against human opponents.
In 1999, Stephen King published Hearts in Atlantis, a collection of short stories all linked by common characters, the Vietnam war and the game of hearts. The second story centers around a group of freshman students in the mid 1960s who spend a semester more intent on their endless games of hearts than their studies. The story will strike a chord with anyone who has experienced college friendships and will make you want to call a reunion to play hearts, just like Bobby, Carol and the rest.
Hearts is known as an “evasion type” trick taking game, where the object is to keep your score as low as possible. Hearts are scored at face value, and the only other scoring card is “Black Maria” the Queen of Spades, which scores 25. If you find yourself accumulating too many points, you can try to “shoot the moon” by winning all the hearts and the Queen of Spades in a single hand. Your score goes back to zero if you manage it.
Most of us have played standard whist, in which seven cards are dealt to each player, heart are trumps and the winner is the player who wins the most tricks. Contract whist takes this simple game and adds extra dimensions.
First, players take it in turns to nominate how many cards will be dealt to each player in each hand. Next, after looking at their own cards, players predict how many tricks they will win in that hand. Whoever says highest chooses which suit is trumps, and in the event of a tie, the remaining deck is cut do decide who gets to choose. Players score a point for every trick, plus a 10-point bonus if they “make their contract” and win the number of tricks they predicted.