A comedian I follow on Twitter recently asked for suggestions of board games he could play with his 6-year-old and 12-year-old. Since he lives in England, I didn’t want to offer board games, which have different names in different countries or flat-out don’t exist in some countries, so I suggested a good old-fashioned deck of cards.
These were not innocent card games. They were played for money. It was gambling. And even at a very young age, I understood that I wanted to win money. Naturally at some point I was given my seed gambling money, but for a kid, that $1 in change was a gift, not a loan. And whatever I won was mine.
Here are the games I distinctly remember:
Crazy 8s: Each player gets 8 cards (6 if more than 4 play). The deck is put face down in the middle. The top car is turned as the discard pile. Play goes around the table with each player trying to discard all of their cards. They can play the same suit or number as the top card showing on the discard pile. If they play an 8 (free to play any time), they can declare what they are changing the suit to. If you can’t play you pick a card. If you can play the drawn card, you do. And you avoid paying a penny. Or you pick cards until you can play, paying a penny for each. First person out of cards wins.
Up and down Broadway (different than up and down the river): Deal all the cards. Play goes around the table. A 7 is required to start play. If you don’t have a 7 and have to pass, you pay a penny. From each 7, the cards going up and down from it in numerical order are played until one player runs out of cards. First person out of cards wins.
Aces in the corner: Deal 7 cards. Put the stack of remaining cards down and turn over four cards around it. Play goes around the table. You can either play down on the original showing cards, or you can put an ace in the corner. On the original showing cards, you have to play down and alternate colors of suits. So you could play a jack of clubs on a queen of diamonds or hearts, but not on a queen of spades or clubs. Cards are played up in matching suits on the aces. If you can’t play, you can move something on the board to avoid drawing a card. Like move a 2 from the original stacks to an ace in the corner. If a whole original stack goes away you can play a king in its place.
I’m struggling to remember if we played other games for money. There was some game we sometimes played which came with a huge table mat with drawings of cards on it, indicating where you had to play cards and in what combinations. I don’t remember what it was called. In high school, my friends and I played a lot of cards. We didn’t play cards for money but we played a lot of Spades and Pass the Crap. My parents loved to play bridge and I learned how from them, but we rarely played.