Card games are so popular today that some people argue that Poker should be considered a sport. Thousands of players assemble at high-stakes games broadcasted on ESPN, which is one of the main arguments that make it sports-worthy. Yet, as comedian Daniel Tosh points out, “If poker is a sport, we should put it into the Olympics.” While the jury is out on whether these highly publicized, highly watched games should be on par with athletic games, the undeniable truth is that cards have survived hundreds of years as popular family games, gambling games and individual entertainment games.
Part of the success of card games is their portable nature. These small 2.5 x 3.5-inch cards make ideal travel games for families on the go. They were also used during wartime, since soldiers could easily throw them in a box or into their pockets. The simplicity and versatility of the card deck is another factor, since one pack of cards can be used to play hundreds of different games. At www.pagat.com, there are lists of rules for everything from 3 Card Poker, 500 and Baccarat to Blackjack, Chase the Ace and Old Maid. Cards can be played as drinking games, gambling games or just for fun, which can really change the whole feel of the occasion. The combination of chance, strategy and mathematics has long since fascinated us, making cards one of the most enduring games of all time.
Today’s family games often involve boards, in addition to cards. For instance, the eighties saw a rise in popularity for the trivia board game Trivial Pursuit. Most of the action itself centered on specially made game cards that asked trivia questions, rather than in numbered black and red cards. Dibs, Don’t Quote Me, Scandal Monger, Scene It, Smarty Party and Wits & Wagers are other trivia card board games that have taken America by storm. Quiz game shows furthered along our love for trivia card games throughout the eighties, when we all imagined we could be on Family Feud or Jeopardy. Some amateurs at home may dream of mastering their peers at trivia and one day going on a game show where they can win big cash and prizes. Then again, some of us have no illusions and simply love to dominate — err, dazzle — family and friends with our unsurpassed knowledge.
Since the dawn of the computer, Solitaire has been a standard card game that comes in the “Accessories” section of every unit. It’s hard to avoid the temptation of clicking away to pass the time, awaiting that wild frenzy of card-hopping that celebrates your triumphant win. Today there are a number of websites focusing on card games, like www.games.com, www.games.yahoo.com, www.1001onlinegames.com and www.gamecolony.com. Whether playing family games with relatives who are spread out across the globe or playing with complete strangers, the ability to chat and play on the computer has united and entertained people since the nineties. The most popular online card game is Poker, which worries some that the ease of hooking one’s credit card to such a site may have big financial ramifications. Even so, it’s good to see that old-fashioned card game fun hasn’t gone out of style, given the new technology available to us.
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