Recently my family had the mixed blessing of a long weekend away sharing a house with another young family of four. The anticipated four days of fun in the sun became an episode in hiding indoors from relentless torrential rain.
While the kids were happily entertained by various electronic babysitters, the adults pondered the question of how to have fun indoors. In a legal way. And not by randomly selecting keys left in a bowl.
The weather forced us to be creative and so we stumbled on a long forgotten joy — the playing of card games such as gin rummy and 500. We played a hybrid version of the two games, mainly because we could not remember or agree on all the rules.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
According to Wikipedia, gin rummy and 500 were first invented in America around the turn of the 20th century. Our version used two decks of ordinary playing cards, including the jokers. If there are four players, you can divide into two teams or play individually. Our group are a competitive lot, so we decided the best sport was to be had by individual efforts.
Players are dealt the same odd number of cards between seven and 13. The goal is to score as many points as you can in each game and be the first to reach 500.
Points are scored through “tricks”, and a trick is a minimum set of three cards such as three aces, or a straight (3-4-5) from the same suit. Tricks are “laid down” on the table in front of the respective player, although a sneaky player might hold all the cards in their hand until they can put all of them down at once and “go out” thereby scoring bonus points.
Cards are valued at five points for cards 2-9, 10 points for cards 10-king and aces score 20 points. No suit scores higher than any other. Once another player/team puts down a trick, then any player can add to that trick from their hand, putting the card down in their scoring pile.
You can add your own touch to the game to enhance the playing experience. You might like to bet on the winner of each game.
And a final recommendation — make sure you share a good bottle of wine while playing and watch the players become increasingly crafty and sly in proportion to the wine consumed. You’ll be having so much fun, you’ll want to keep playing even when the sun comes up.