## Lydster: beware the card shark

gin rummy, go fish, poker

As an avid card player since my youth, I had tried but failed to interest my daughter in playing a number of games over the years. For instance, at the (almost) annual hearts game at our house, I gently tried to gently show an interest, but she had not.

But when the two of us were on one of our college excursions, she asked to play gin rummy. Basically, it involves the two players being dealt 10 cards. The players alternating drawing cards from the remaining deck, or the top card discarded by the opponents. The idea is to create three or four cards of the same rank (sevens, jacks, e.g.) or runs of three or more cards consecutively in the same suit (6, 7, 8 of hearts, e.g.).

What’s strange is that it was only this summer that she decided that she’d just learn how to play online. It was the game my grandfather, McKinley Green, and I used to play for years when I was roughly 10 to when I went to college when I was 18. So it was our “thing.”

It is my favorite two-person card game, and my daughter turns out to be quite good at it, beating me about 60% of the time. Oddly, this pleases me tremendously. The budding card shark also started wanting to play Go Fish with me, another game she did not really embrace as a child. She beats me at that too.

##### Poker

She wanted to learn how to play poker. I had always been of the opinion that poker wasn’t interesting unless you had 1) three, or preferably more players, and 2) wagering, even if it’s pennies from the change jar. It wasn’t a game I’ve played a lot, and there are a myriad number of ways to play.

Of course, the first thing we needed to do is teach her the relative ranks of poker hands.

From lowest to highest: High Card, One Pair, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight (five cards in numerical order, but not in the same suit), Flush (five cards in the same suit, not in numerical order), Full House (three of a kind plus a pair), Four of a Kind, Straight Flush (five cards in a row, all in the same suit), Royal Flush(10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit), Five of a Kind (only possible with wild cards).

After some frankly boring experiments, we came up with a game where each player got five cards face down. Then there were two common cards, face up. Each player could trade any cards in their hands. It was surprisingly engaging, trying to fill in that inside straight generated enough excitement to play any time we had some downtime.

##### Also…

Not exactly a card game, but my wife, my daughter, and I played a truly rousing game of Sorry. It was strange. I’d say, “I can’t get hit unless one of the others draws an 8,” not a common card in the deck. They drew an 8; ouch! I told my wife, that if I draw a 10, I’d go back one space and hit her piece, and I did. If this match had been recorded, it’d be on ESPN forever. We were all within 8 spaces of going out. My wife won, but it was truly quite exciting.

## The Lydster, Part 122: The Games People Play

I decided to play Lydia in Yatzhee, and she she beat me the first time out.

I’ve noted that I like to play various games with The Daughter, especially at the point she can play competitively with me. She can play the board game SORRY and Connect Four (VIDEO) straight up, meaning she can beat me as often as I can defeat her.

I had always beaten her in Chinese checkers, and even when I played her recently, she was playing in what I thought was a haphazard way, moving sideways when she could have jumped forward. But then she set up multiple jumps and actually beat me, by a single move.

Didn’t enjoy playing checkers with me, because she didn’t seem to grasp it. Then one day she beat me. No, she CRUSHED me. She still had 10 pieces to my two when I conceded.

I decided to play her in Yatzhee, and she she beat me the first time out. I won the next five games, but then she’s been winning half the time, so it’s worth it for both of us to play.

## 30-Day Challenge: Day 18 – Favorite Board Game

I have always loved board games. I used to play them all the time. As a kid, my favorite game was SCRABBLE, which I used to play with my great aunt, and from time to time as an adult, usually with my in-laws.

With children, I love to play SORRY. As Jaquandor explained, this is a game that by the time a kid is 4 to 6, can play an adult straight up.

I found this out when I used to play with my late friend Nancy’s son Jeff when he was about 6 in 1978 or 1979; I would not give him an advantage and he’d beat me almost half the time. Likewise, my daughter is very good at it. In fact, we often play with her stuffed animals as surrogates as well, with each of us essentially playing two colors, and she’ll often come in first and second, or at least first and third.

I’m quite fond of Monopoly. I could tell you what the purchase price and basic rent for every property on the board; unfortunately, it’s a game that really requires multiple players, and that has not been the situation I’ve found myself in of late. For our wedding, we received an Albany-based Monopoly set that I’m pretty sure we’ve never used.

I went through a phase of playing a lot of Trivial Pursuit in the 1980s and 1990s, but some people didn’t like the fact that I won too often – it’s a curse – and I probably haven’t played this century.

The game I play most often at this point is backgammon. It’s a game I learned at a bar appropriately called Bacchus in my college town of New Paltz, NY from my friend Anne. Then I didn’t play for a long time. Now I play my friend Mary at work at least twice a month at lunchtime. It’s a fairly easy game to play, though it takes a little while to ascertain the best strategy. The board often shows up on the back of checkerboards, and the game is available online, so one can hone one’s skills.

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