Why’d You Play the Left Bower There??!

I’ve never played Bridge, and don’t know the rules or at least not totally, but back home in Newfoundland, we had a similar game called 500’s, the objective of which is to get 500 points, duh!

The game is deceptively simple to play, but can take years to master.  There’s a lot of strategy involved, and many arguments have been had between partners about playing the wrong card at the wrong time.  The joker is highest card, followed by the right and left bower (right is the jack of your suit, left is jack of the same color suit), followed by Ace, King etc.  The deck has some cards removed, I can’t remember for sure, but I think the deuces and 3’s are taken out.  Hands are dealt 10 cards per person, with a 5 card kitty that the winning bidder gets to choose from.  Suits as well are ranked from Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and No Trump.  (At least I think that’s the order).  The lowest possible bid is 6 Spades, meaning spades would be trumps, and you win your points if you win 6 tricks.  The highest bid would be slam no-trumps.

Its a great social game, lots of fun, and people play and play for hours, and some keep lifetime tally’s of playing with the same partner.  Some great memories of playing 500’s around a coleman lantern in a cabin with a glass of rum, or beer, and a roast of moose in the oven.  Ahh good times.

Someday I hope I get in a game again, until then, may all your kiitys be full, your bowers be played correctly, and no-one cut you off with the joker!

Fill in!

Comes the cry from Vince’s or Ivan’s, fill in! No we didn’t need to fill in any holes, except those around the table.  Fill in is the cry to fill your seat around the poker table.

Fall Friday nights were often spent at Ivan’s or Vince’s, playing poker, not the texas hold-em of today, but dealers choice, usually 5 Card Draw.  Get a jackpot? Well then someone needed jacks or better to open the next hand.  We also occasionally played some blackjack or blind indian, high or low chicago, and I forget what else.

The biggest difference in our games was though the gizmo.  The gizmo was an innocuous film canister.  Well, its what held it anyway.  The gizmo takes some explaining; the first hand of the night was the gizmo hand.  All players put a loonie in the pot and we played as normal, with the winner winning the gizmo, and its value being the contributed loonies.  Here’s where it gets interesting, when it was the winners turn to ante, he anted the gizmo, basically a free ante.  but if anyone else wanted to play that hand, they had to ante its value.  So we could automatically have a large pot on the board before we really started.  Tradition then said the winner added another loonie to its value so as the night went on, it got more and more valuable.

Of course with increased value, often no one played the hand at all, but sometimes…. well holy cow!

Of course there were other memories of poker night too, like the night Ivan’s brdige collapsed, or Dale Butt calling for Tracey and Eric saying “Terra Nova fisheries, Connor speaking”.  To be followed by two more “Duffet’s Building Supplies, Carpenter Speaking”, and finally “House of the Lord, Jesus speaking” before he caught on he wasn’t getting wrong numbers.

Memories of me and Howard raising each other over and over, him with a pair of 3s and me with a pair of deuces.  And Chris Haynes laughing his head off cause he had thrown away three nines. Memories of being “notched”, of Vince feeding the rabbit, of Vince opening a jackpot and then throwing away his openers and taking 5 and still beating Jim Bailey and memories of watching the OJ Simpson chase on Ivan’s small black and white tv.