Tricks and Trumps #1: The Classic Trick-Takers Before 1965

This is the first entry in an eleven-part series featuring trick taking games.  We put more than 150 such games into a ratings spreadsheet, giving each Opinionated Gamer the chance to offer their rating.  We decided to write about any game that was (a) rated by more than three people, and (b) had an “average” rating higher than our neutral rating.  The end series will feature 56 games split into nine articles.  After the nine main articles, we’re going to do an article for games that didn’t make the cut but that are worth mentioning, followed by a companion post about climbing games.  We’re calling the series “Tricks and Trumps.”

The games are ranged roughly by the year of origin.  First we’re going to discuss the classic tricksters, everything from Hearts to Spades and other games you may have played at family gatherings.  Then we’ll discuss how (mostly) German designers started to modify the classics and make designer trick taking games.  Then we’ll walk through the modern hits and hidden gems.  Today’s entry features Pitch, Euchre, Hearts, Pinochle, Bridge, Oh Hell!, and Spades.  

As David Parlett noted in his book A History of Card Games, trick taking games “are by far the most varied and widespread form of card-play in the west.”  Trick taking games seemed to have originated shortly after decks of cards themselves reached Europe.  Parlett provides a great overview of trick taking history in his book.  You can also find countless trick taking variations — as well as a decent classification system — at the card game site Pagat.  

We discuss the early trick taking games below.  Each of these games is in the public domain, and they can be played with standard playing cards.  

Deck of Cards 1

Pitch (Circa 1600)

Review by: Dale Yu

Pitch is the game that I cut my teeth on here in Southwestern Ohio – which happens to be one of the few areas left that still play Pitch.  What I have found in my travels is that there are many pockets in the Midwest that play Pitch, and each area has its own version.  What I will describe here is the game as played in Cincinnati/Oxford (Miami University) which is called Auction Pitch.  If you are familiar with Whist, you can think of this as a cousin or variant.  

Pitch is traditionally played in partnerships, and often involves a monetary bet.  The game is played to 10, and the bet is usually for a dollar (or maybe $5) per point difference.  The whole 52 card deck is used.  Each player is dealt 6 cards at the start of each hand, traditionally in bunches of 3.  Then, starting with eldest player, there is a round of bidding.  Each player states a bid saying how many points (out of 5) that they think their partnership can make.

The points are:

High (highest card in this hand of the trump suit)

Low (lowest card in this hand of the trump suit)

Jack (winning the Jack of the trump suit)

Off-Jack (winning the Jack of the same color of the trump suit, which also happens to be a trump card, ranked between the 10 and the Jack of the trump suit)

Game (winning a majority of the points in a hand: 10=10 pt, J=1 pt, Q=2 pt, K=3 pt, A=4 pt)

Minimum bid is 2, and you can either raise the bid or pass.  When the bid gets back to the dealer, he could raise the current bid and therefore win the auction as there are no later bids.  He could also pass and choose to let the current bid stand.  There is, however, a third option that now becomes available.  He could choose to “run the cards” – that is to deal everyone three more cards and then have another round of bidding with the opening bid being one higher than the current bid.  In this case though, if all other players pass, the dealer must win the auction at the new level.

Once the bid is won, the winning player leads the first trick.  The suit that is led becomes trump for the hand.  When trump is led, it must be followed.  However, unlike most other trump games, you do not have to be void to play trump when a non-trump suit is led.  The winner of the previous trick leads the next.  When all cards are played, each partnership aggregates their tricks and scores the hand, again looking for the five possible points – three of which are present in every hand (high, low, game) and two of which may be present (jack and off jack).  

If the bidding player’s team scored at least as many points as was bid, they score all their points.  If they did not meet the bid, they take a negative score equal to their bid (they do not get any partial credit for the other points won).  The non-bidding team always scores their points.  The game ends when at least one team has ten points or more, and the team with more points wins.; if both exceed 10 and are tied, another hand is played to break the tie.

I grew up with this game, and it is still probably my favorite trick taking game ever.  However, it’s hard to find anyone who has ever heard of the game once you get about 30 minutes outside of the Oxford, Ohio area.

I like the challenge of the bidding as well as the uncertainty/gamble of not necessarily knowing where all the points are.  As trump is decided by the bidding player, most of the game revolves around winning the bid, and sometimes you are forced to gamble on winning a jack or off-jack that you are not even sure is in the hand in order to get control of the trump.

The game has had a couple attempted commercial versions, the most recent of which that I can remember is “Pitch Six” from Hasbro.  I bought a few copies of this hoping that I could get other gamers to play it at conventions if they saw it in a professionally produced box, but it never seemed to gain traction.

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Joe Huber: Pitch is traditionally popular in New England, and so I learned the game when I started working for Digital Equipment Corporation in Nashua.  I mostly played against AI, and enjoyed the game well enough; I did try a couple of Pitch variants (and the game seems to have more regional variants than most) in person as well.  Not a bad game; one I’d be happy to play, if a group were interested.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  Dale Y
  • I like it.  Frank, John P.
  • Neutral.  Joe H., Luke, Craig M.
  • Not for me…  

Euchre

Euchre (1848)

Review by: Erik Arneson

Euchre is a family of trick-taking card games. The most common version, at least in North America, is a four-player partnership game played with a 24-card deck (using 9, 10, J, Q, K and A in all four suits). Some players prefer a 32-card deck (adding the 7 and 8 of each suit), while British Euchre uses 25 cards (the 24 listed above, plus a joker). There are other local variations and rules variants (e.g., Three-Handed Euchre and Railroad Euchre) as well.

Euchre follows most standard trick-taking conventions, with two unusual high cards: The Jack of the trump suit is the “right bower,” and it’s the most valuable card. The other Jack of the same color is the “left bower,” and it’s the second most valuable card. Each player is dealt five cards and after one round (in certain circumstances, two rounds) of bidding, gameplay begins. The partnership that wins at least three tricks wins the round and earns points.

Euchre is on the light end of the scale, a very pleasant game to enjoy with friends and family while engaging in conversation — yet there’s just enough subtlety and strategy to appeal to gamers. I played too many games of Euchre to count in college, and it remains a sentimental favorite even if I don’t get to play it nearly enough these days.

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Patrick Brennan: A nice trick-taking game, but this felt a bit more family-oriented and luck-bound than our favourite traditional 4p partnership game, being “500”, so it’s rarely hit the table.

Joe Huber: Nearly every game I’ve played a lot – say, 50+ times – those plays have primarily been since I started recording my plays, in 1996.  Euchre is a glaring exception; I’ve recorded fewer than 10 plays 1996-present, but played hundreds of times in high school – until someone decided that cards were not allowed at lunch.  Euchre is a simple game, though it did teach me a key trick-taking game concept, the endplay.  A friend won the third trick (giving their team two tricks), and claimed since he had a protected left bower (i.e., the left bower and a lower trump) that we were set.  However, I pointed out that since he was on lead, and I had both the right bower and the ace, I would actually be taking the last two tricks.  It took a while before he finally believed me…

A closely related game to Euchre, but more popular in different areas, is 500.  500 was designed by the US Playing Card Company, but the rules were effectively placed in the public domain.  Whereas Euchre is played with 2-4, 500 supports 3-6 players, through the use of a unique deck including 11s, 12s, and red 13s, in addition to the standard cards.  (It’s a fun deck for playing variants of other standard-deck games, as well.)

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  Erik Arneson
  • I like it.  Patrick Brennan, Joe H., Matt C., Luke, Craig M.
  • Neutral.  Frank
  • Not for me…  Michael W.

 

Hearts

Hearts (1850)

Review by: Chris Wray

Hearts is generally played with four people and a standard deck of cards, though numerous variants exist.  The goal of hearts is to avoid taking tricks containing hearts (worth 1 point each) or the queen of spades (worth 13 points).  Other cards have no value.  There is no trump suit, and the highest played card of the suit led will win the trick and lead the next trick.  Players typically pass three cards at the start of each hand.  The game ends when a target score — commonly 100 points — is reached, and the player with the lowest score wins.  

In most variants, capturing all 26 points (i.e. all hearts plus the queen of spades) is called “shooting the moon,” and the player accomplishing such a feat may either take 26 points off his score or add 26 points to the totals of the other players.  In some variants the jack of diamonds is worth negative 10 points (meaning it is favorable to win in a trick).

Hearts is simple yet tense, with gameplay offering interesting decisions.  Most of the strategy focuses on when to play the dreaded queen of spades, as well as when to attempt to “shoot the moon.”  Gameplay is typically fast-paced. Hearts is possibly the most commonly-played trick taking game in the west, and it is easy to see why: it is good classic fun, the sort of game your Grandma probably knows and loves.  (It also helps that a digital version of Hearts was included in Microsoft Windows for many years!)

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Patrick Brennan: Classic card game I’ve played a zillion times. We’ve always played the 124 pt (ie face value, courts=10, ace=15, the bitch=25) version, which here in Aus I assumed was the natural way to play until the computer versions came, and which I still much prefer. The pass allows for hand management and short suiting, all cards are in so you can count and manage risk … and things may just go horribly wrong regardless. All good attributes in a card game.

Matt Carlson:  Something about dumping on other people for negative scores just puts me off on the game.  I’d rather gain points than cause others to lose them (or, more correctly, lose them myself.)  In general, I prefer games (like Settlers) where I can’t lose something I’ve already gained/created.  Without partners, the game can also branch into a smack-the-leader situation.  I’m also partial to games with trump suits, so I tend to avoid Hearts as much as I can.

Larry:  Hearts has never been a favorite of mine.  It always felt like for the first few tricks, there was little information to go on and for the last few, play of the hand was pretty automatic, so only about a third of the hand was interesting.  Plus, there’s mindless stuff like “trolling for the Queen”.  As Patrick says, despite one’s best efforts, things can go horribly wrong, but unlike him, I view that as a negative.  Shooting for the moon does add interest.  I know the game is more skillful than I give it credit for, but there are many other traditional card games that I enjoy playing more.

Joe Huber: Hearts is a fine, classic game, to be played mostly while waiting for your fourth for Bridge.  At least, that’s where nearly all of my recorded plays are from…

Frank Branham: Not the deepest of games, but the level of spite has its charms. There are, however, occasional hands where you are just flush with hearts which are quite interesting to play.

Michael Weston: Played many (nay, many) a hand of this throughout college in-between (and sometimes instead of) classes. Not being partnership, it was easier to swap a player in when someone realized they were now late to class. There are better card games, both traditional and packaged, but for me Hearts is always fun despite its shortcomings.

Alan How: I still play this today, but mainly against the computer as a time filler and I can’t remember when I last played it with real people. Still fun though.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  Patrick Brennan, Michael Weston
  • I like it.  Chris W. , Frank B., Erik Arneson, Alan How
  • Neutral.  Mark Jackson, Larry, Joe H., Craig M.
  • Not for me…  Matt Carlson

Playing Cards 3

Pinochle (1904)

Review by: Larry Levy

Pinochle originated in Germany, as a 2-player spinoff of Bezique.  It shares its parent’s most distinctive feature, namely its combination of melding and trick-taking, but while Bezique is almost entirely forgotten, Pinocle is still fairly popular.  It was brought to the U.S. by immigrants around the turn of the century, which explains why certain cultures and geographic areas are familiar with the game and others have never heard of it.  As a child of the sixties, it was as much a part of my Jewish heritage as lox and bagels was.

There was a long period of time where you had to be careful when buying a deck of cards.  Displayed right alongside standard 52 card decks were 48 card Pinochle decks (consisting of two copies of the 9 through Ace in each suit).  I’m sure Pinochle decks can still be bought, but I can’t remember the last time I saw them outside of a specialty store.  It’s a sign that the game (and card games in general) has fallen out of favor, but it also shows how popular it used to be.

Pinochle is actually a family of games (like Rummy), but the different versions vary quite a bit from each other.  2-player, 3-player, 4-player partnership, and double-deck Pinochle all have quite a different feel.  My favorite has always been 3-player, in which the players bid to set the trump suit and to add a three-card widow to their hands.  The uncertainty of the contents of the widow adds a dynamic nature to the bidding that I enjoy.  The only problem is that many hands don’t get played, either because the widow was of no help and there’s no chance of making the bid, or because its cards were so useful that the bid is assured even without winning any cards in tricks.

Almost all of my plays of the 2-player version were with my grandfather, who was a marvelous card player, the sort who could tell you the contents of your hand after just a few tricks.  It’s luck factor is fairly high, but there’s still plenty of skill and it has a unique feel and charm all its own.  Double-deck Pinochle is easily the most popular version of the game.  It’s played with 80 cards (two Pinochle decks with the 9’s removed) and you need pretty big hands to be able to hold 20 cards!  It always seemed a bit too wild and wooly to me, with tons of points and melds scored each hand, but when someone asks you  if you want to play Pinochle, they’re probably referring to double-deck.

Although I haven’t played Pinochle in years, it was always one of my favorite traditional games.  The combination of scoring via melds and through winning tricks fascinated me and it remains the game’s most distinctive element.  Over a century after its invention, Pinochle is still one of the world’s greatest card games.

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Matt Carlson:  I’ve always explained Pinochle as a trick-taking game invented by two drunk guys in a bar…  

“I’m sick of seeing these damn low cards!  Let’s just dump ‘em so we only have the high cards!  Maybe use a couple decks to keep it interestin..”

“Yeah, yeah!  And what about points?  Give everyone points!  Shoot, give ‘em points even before they start playing.”

“Sweet.  We could give points for lotta cool stuff like in poker.. four aces, four kings, straights, whatever!”

“Donna forget four 9’s.”

“S’right.  I hate those low cards.  Let’s make the 10’s worth more than the royals though, keep ‘em in their place.”

“Maybe we could throw in something special to make it unique.  You ever thought about how the cards feel?  There’s like two guys fer each wommin inna deck.  How ‘bout we give some points for Kings that match up with their partner?”

“Yeah, yeah. But like the queen of spades doesn’t like her king so she’s hanging out with the jack of diamonds or something.”

“Sweet!  It’s like a whole Romeo and Juliet thing!”

“Ok, Ok… now we just have to find a deck of cards…”

When I was first introduced to the game, I was bewildered at what I found to be almost an inscrutable number of strange rules.  (I think I was even chastised for not dealing out cards in alternating twos and threes…)   After I got the hang of the game I found it a good trick taking game that had many unique features.  Card counting is interesting as there are duplicates of each card The sheer number of points available through melds can make the game swing-y but there’s enough card play going on that better players will win over the long haul.  I don’t play it much, but if I want to play an “out there” trick taking game (and can’t find someone who knows or is willing to learn the rules) I’m typically up for a game.  Due to the strange deck and massive opportunities to rack up points, it is one of the more unique trick taking games.

Joe Huber: Compared to the other games in this article, Pinochle is unique, as it combines trick taking with melding.  It’s not the first game to do so – Schnapsen and Bezique, among others, predate it – but Pinochle is notable for the number of available melds (including the queen of spades / jack of diamonds meld for which the game is named), for the double deck, and for the partnership aspect of the game.

But as with the other games in this article, Pinochle is a game that families played – and play.  Depending upon the family, the card game of choice differs, but Pinochle is every bit as much a family tradition as Pitch, Euchre, and Hearts.  It was actually my family’s card game of choice in my grandparent’s generation, though I was too young to play with them so I had to pick up the game on my own.  It’s not Bridge – but it’s also not a simplified Bridge, but a different and enjoyable game in its own right.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  
  • I like it.  Joe H., Larry, Matt C., Craig M.
  • Neutral.  
  • Not for me…  

Bridge

Bridge (1925)

Review by: Joe Huber

There are very few games that are truly played for a lifetime, and very few which people can play professionally.  While it might be more difficult to make a living playing Bridge than it once was, it’s still done – and _can_ still be done because there’s so much to the game.  I’ve played tens of thousands of hands in my lifetime, and I’m still continuously learning more about the game.

I recently had a conversation with a Tichu player, who wondered what benefit Bridge had that made it worth playing a game where one sits out of a quarter of the hands, for the play.  So I showed him a squeeze – a play technique that is vaguely possible in other games (including Hearts), but which is a regular component in high level Bridge play, specifically because the declarer plays partner’s cards.  I still remember how thrilled I was the first time I actually recognized and carried off a squeeze – and it still is one of the more fun things to do in gaming.

Bridge does take a while to get a handle on – but it’s time well spent, in my opinion.  Ideally, I’d recommend finding a friendly game, a used copy of Sheinwold’s Five Weeks to Winning Bridge, and digging in.  If you enjoy trick taking games, there are none better than Bridge.

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Dale Yu: I tried to learn this in college, and in fact went to a local Bridge club in Nashville for a few months, but I just never seemed to get a good hold on the bidding conventions.

Matt Carlson: I like it as a casual game.  However, as with Chess, I find most proponents of the game take it seriously enough that it is tough to find a casual game.

Larry:  Greatest card game ever created, bar none.  Bridge is the only game I’ve ever devoted study to and I’ve actually found reading about bidding systems and card play to be quite interesting.  The amount of skill and imagination that can be brought to bear in playing this game is just astonishing.  I love the intricacies of the various bidding systems that have been created and working through the details of these with a regular partner can be quite rewarding.   I’ve dabbled in Duplicate Bridge, but I actually much prefer humble Rubber Bridge.  I find the emphasis on overtricks in the former game feels artificial to me, while I really like the different tactics that part scores lend to Rubber Bridge.  I’ve been playing Bridge with some regularity for over 30 years and I find it just as fascinating today as when I first learned it.  It’s one of my all-time favorite games of any kind.

Frank: We played a terrifying amount of Bridge in college. I adore the game, but something about the intricacy and variants and haggling over bidding conventions both irks and fascinates me. It irks me because there are so many exceptions, variations, and little grafted on hacks. It fascinates me for the same reason.

Erik Arneson: I was in a Bridge club in middle school (nerd alert!) and remember really enjoying it. My parents often had friends over to play Bridge. But… I can’t even begin to remember how to play it at this point.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  Joe H., Larry, Frank B.
  • I like it.  Chris W., Matt C.
  • Neutral.  Dale Y
  • Not for me…  

Deck of Cards 2

Oh Hell (1930)

Review by: Chris Wray

Oh Hell! now has countless variants in the marketplace (perhaps most famously Wizard), but it was one of the earlier games where you bid on the number of tricks you would take.  The game is played with a standard deck of cards, and a card is typically flipped up from the deck to show the trump suit for the hand.  After the deal, each player bids on the number of tricks they will take, with an added special rule: the dealer may not bid the number that would cause the total number of tricks bid to equal the number of available tricks, thus the hand will always be over- or under-bid.  

The rules otherwise are standard trick taking fare: players must follow suit if possible, and the winner of the trick leads.  There are countless scoring variants, but as described at Pagat, the most common is to get 10 points for meeting your bet plus an extra point per trick.  Missing the best results in a score of 0.  

Most variants of Oh Hell seem to vary the number of tricks played per hand, with the number steadily rising or falling.  Some go from 1 trick in the first hand up; some do the reverse (maximum tricks down to 1); and some go up then down.  

The game is simple yet effective.  Wizard and some other more modern versions (especially Die Sieben Siegel) dress the game up a bit better, but Oh Hell is a light game with high replayability that is sure to be a classic for years to come.  

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Patrick Brennan: A classic card game I still play regularly, including its various designer adaptations such as Canyon and Die Sieben Siegel. The most appealing element is the gradual progression between almost random results and more controlled hands, all in the same game, allowing all skill levels to have fun with the game.

Mark Jackson: For my money, Canyon with the “Grand Canyon” expansion cards is the best version of this lighter trick-taking game.

Larry:  Games in which you have to predict exactly how many tricks you will win have always rubbed me the wrong way.  There’s just too many elements out of your control for skill to shine through.  Additionally, playing hands with so few cards per hand seems silly to me.  It’s not a terrible game, but I usually try to avoid the original game and its relatives.

Joe Huber: Pleasant little game; didn’t do enough for me to have bothered playing it in many years, though if someone else wanted to I’d still be fine with it.

Frank Branham: This is a more difficult game than at first appears, even in the low count card rounds. The charm in those rounds is almost Poker-like in its hand estimation. Gradually, this morphs into a more complex game of estimation and play. The flaw of “basic” Oh Hell is that those later hands are pretty easy to estimate among good players. I prefer one of the variants that screws with the deck a bit. (Wizard adds just enough of a twist that I prefer it.)

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it!  Patrick Brennan, Frank Branham, Erik Arneson
  • I like it.  Mark Jackson, Chris Wray
  • Neutral.  Joe H.
  • Not for me…  Larry

Spades

Spades (1938)

Review by: Chris Wray

Spades, a four-player partnership game, is widely played around the United States.  Before each hand, each player bets the number of tricks his team will take.  The total for each team is aggregated, and they must take this many tricks as a team (meaning the individual bets become meaningless at this point).  Spades are the trump suit, but otherwise the highest played card of the suit led will win the trick.  The suit led must be played if possible.  The winner of the trick leads the next trick.

A team gains — or loses — 10 points per trick bet: they get the ten points per trick if they accomplish their goal, but lose it otherwise.  Extra tricks (“overtricks”) are worth one point.  Overtricks are referred to as sandbags, and when a team gets ten of them throughout the game, they lose 100 points.  

Play continues to a pre-determiend number of points, usually 500.  Some variants provide that spades cannot be played until “broken,” meaning they either appear in trick led by a non-spade or when a player only has spades in hand.  Another popular variation is award extra points (usually 100) for nil bids.  

Spades is a classic for a reason: it is simple, and anybody can learn it, but it provides hours of fun.  Trick taking games with betting or bidding are their own world, and they naturally offer great depth.

Spades is a great example of the betting/bidding mechanic at work: it doesn’t require that you bet the exact number, so it is forgiving enough for newcomers, but the anti-sandbagging rules ensure that players bet accurately.  

Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:

Patrick Brennan: I’ve only played enough to get a feel, as we tend to go to 500 or Tichu when a 4 player partnership game is the call, but it’s obviously a very good game, I enjoyed it and should probably explore it further.

Dale Yu: This was also like Bridge for beginners, and this was the game of choice in my fraternity.  This is the game where I learned to finesse cards as well as to visualize how an entire hand could play out from the first trick. We often played a dime a point, with our standard variant rule of “10 for 200” – that is where a made 10 bid scores 200 points instead of just 100.  Most of my fraternity dues were paid for as a result of this game, and thus, my love of it grows even stronger.

Matt Carlson: This is my default trick-taking game.  It seems to distill everything I like about trick taking games with a trump suit, making it a great game to teach the genre.  Given a chance, I like it when one can “call” a trump suit, but I don’t mind it here since it is one less thing I need to teach.  I particularly like how a good player must also be able to correctly judge a bad hand.  It is best in partnerships, as the combined bid can cause fun interactions…  (I’m thinking of our college days where it was popular to “revenge bid” for when our partner was making bad calls… )

Larry:  Very watered down Bridge.  Why suffer through a hamburger when you can feast on filet mignon?

Joe Huber: A number of years back, an excellent Bridge player (i.e., much, much better than I’ll ever be) and I entered a Spades tournament, came up with a simple bidding system on the fly – and flew through to the semi-finals, when we just didn’t get the cards.  This was in spite of being the first time I’d ever played Spades, and the first time for my partner in many years.  I don’t have anything against Spades, but unlike Hearts, for example, which has reasons to be played even in a world where Bridge is an option, I see no need for Spades.

Frank Branham: I only wish I had grown up playing this instead of freaking Rook.

Michael Weston: Like Patrick, for me there aren’t many situations where Spades would be the game to play. Either a Tichu deck is available, or just some other game to prefer (see Hearts, above). Loved it as a kid, and might have graduated on to Bridge if it hadn’t been for D&D (or you know, an actual Bridge player anywhere in the family instead of all poker players).

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:  

  • I love it! Dale Y, Matt C., Craig M.
  • I like it.  Patrick Brennan, Mark Jackson, Erik Arneson, Michael Weston, Chris Wray
  • Neutral.  Larry, Frank, Luke
  • Not for me… Joe H.

 

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4 Responses to Tricks and Trumps #1: The Classic Trick-Takers Before 1965

  1. Pingback: The Village Square: March 17, 2016

  2. I was hoping to see Sheepshead on the list! It’s practically the state game in northern Wisconsin. My weekly board game group is spending the entire month of March learning and playing it.

  3. Craig Berg says:

    I have fond memories of growing up and playing pinochle. My great uncle taught me to play when I was 10 years old and we would play every Sunday. One of my favorite aspects of pinochle is a player’s ability to bleed someone out of trump (because if you don’t have the lead suit, you must trump if you can.) I never liked euchre because it always felt like a watered down version of pinochle to me. I’m surprised Larry said it was hard to find a pinochle deck; every CVS around here carries them right next to the poker decks. I still know plenty of people that play it fairly regularly.

  4. pdfprime says:

    Long timer card player here — prior to getting into other games via Games magazine in the mid-90s. I am happy to play Hearts or Spades anywhere anytime. I played more Pinochle than I care to admit. Euchre was primarily a late night not-quite-so-sober college card game,. I played a LOT of set-back as a kid [Hi-Lo-Jack-Joker(off jack?)-game]. I’ve played a fair amount of Wizard, but it is easily the least played by me.

    But mentioning those games in the presence of Bridge is just weird. It’s like having Through The Ages share the spotlight for civilization games with Deus, The Golden Ages and Imperial Settlers. Very good games in their own right, but just not in the same class.

    (in reply to an above comment ) I lived in Milwaukee for 4 years, but never actually played Sheepshead. I have no idea how that happened as many many many people played it even in the big city.

    So a trick/point taking game with hidden partners. Are you kidding me? Package this puppy up and sell it. Now. Create some nobles, some highly regarded upper class and 3 different groups of peasants. This WILL be played (with a standard deck) the next time I pull out the cards with 4 other people.

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