Card Games Folklore S19


Card game/performance folklore                                                                                  Sam O’Brien

“Bridge”                                                                                                                        Hanover, NH

May 21st, 2019

Informant Data: Sam O’Brien is 19 years old, currently studying Government and Biology. He aspires to focus in global health, with hopes to help people in many different countries of the world. He has a fraternal twin, Robert, as well as a younger brother and sister, Will and Florie. Sam grew up in Glen Gardner, NJ to parents of Irish American descent. He greatly values time with family and friends.

Contextual Data:

Social Context: Sam learned this game from his maternal grandparents in Long Island, New York.  They would often play the game with their friends, though Sam did not know how to play. Every Memorial Day, him and his cousins visit their grandparents in Long Island. In 2014, Sam’s grandfather decided to teach them how to play in order to share one of his favorite pastimes with his family. Ever since, they have had specific time slots allotted for bridge whenever he sees his grandparents.

Cultural Context: Sam often plays the card game with his siblings, cousins, grandparents, and other family members. It is an important part of the time they spend together, the physical embodiment of their love and camaraderie for each other.

Item: Bridge is a simple trick-taking card game played by four players, with 2 pairs of partners. It uses a French deck of cards, the most popular version. Cards are dealt, then players bid on the number of tricks the declaring side (one of the partnerships) needs to take to receive points for the deal. Partners communicate their hands during the auction to ensure they are victorious. The declaring side then tries to fulfill the trick quota, while the defenders (the other pair) try to stop them through thwarting their hands.

Collected by: Dante LaRocco


Card game/performance folklore                                                                                   Sanjana Goli

“Cheat/bluff/bullshit”                                                                                                  Hanover, NH

May 22nd, 2019

Informant Data: Sanjana Goli is an 18-year old from San José, California. She studies Computer Science and Economics. She is an Indian American. Also, she has one older sister named Rachna.

Contextual Data:

Social Context: The informant said that she learned of this game through playing it with her family friends. At gatherings, many of the older kids would play it while the younger children would do something else, given the obscene nature of the game. When she came of age to appreciate the name, she was allowed to play. Those older family members taught her how to play. Playing cheat/bluff/bullshit became something everyone could bond over.

Cultural Context: Sanjana and her family friends play this game whenever they are all gathered together. It has become a staple of their friend group. “In times where it seems like these gatherings are rare, it is something nice to come back to.”

Item: This is a simple game of deception where players try to lose all of their cards. This game uses a French deck of cards. The cards are dealt evenly, then whoever has the ace of spades places it down. The next person in clockwise order has to put any number of cards in the next highest rank on the pile (i.e., after someone puts down a 2, the next player must put down a 3) and announce it. They may lie about it – if anyone doubts the verity of their claim, they can challenge it through saying “I doubt it”, or in some variants, “bullshit.” If it was a lie, the player who put the cards down picks up the entire pile. If not, the accuser must. This continues until a player runs out of all of their cards, and then they win.

Collected by: Dante LaRocco


Card game/performance folklore                                                                              Rosa DiGiorgio

“Scopa/sweep”                                                                                                                Suffern, NY

May 26th, 2019

Informant Data: Rosa DiGiorgio is an Italian American mother of three who currently lives in Suffern, New York. She was born and raised in Bensonhurst, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother immigrated from Bari, Italy then met her father in New York. She has three brothers, two older and one younger. She is the mother to Maximillian, Domenica, and Dante LaRocco.

Contextual Data:
Social Context: The informant said that she first learned of scopa (Italian word for “sweep”) from her grandmother. Whenever her grandmother would visit, the two would play many different card games, competing to see who would win the most. This led to an intense rivalry between the informant and her grandmother. Scopa was one of her favorite games to play. It was how she began to learn how to count cards, in fact.
Cultural Context: Playing many card games, including scopa, became a very important part of the informant’s family life. It was a fun way to pass the time. Typically, her and her younger brother would start the games, then her older siblings would notice and ask to join. It fostered competition between all of them. They would play card games any time of the day and week to pass the time.

Item: Scopa is a trick-taking card game using an Italian deck of cards. Each player is dealt 3 cards, and 4 cards are shown face-up on the table. Starting from the right of the dealer, a player can either a) place down a card to take more tricks from or b) try to take a trick through matching one of his card’s values with one on the table or matching his card’s value to a sum of any number on the table. If a player takes all of the cards on the table in one trick, they have earned a scopa (hence the “sweeping” of the table). After all players run out of cards, they are redealt and the process continues. At the end of the deck, each player’s tricks are calculated using their values, and the dealer moves one player to the right. Whoever reaches 11 scopas first wins.

Collected by: Dante LaRocco


Card game/ performance folklore                                                                                Carolina Almonte

“Spades”                                                                                                                            Hanover, NH

May 22nd, 2019

Informant Data: Carolina Almonte is a Dartmouth ‘20 engineering major who aspires to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering. She is a twenty-one-year-old Dominican woman who was born in the Dominican Republic. Her family moved to the United States, specifically to Brooklyn, NY, when she was thirteen years old.

Social Context: The informant learned how to play spades during a game night at the Shabazz Center for Intellectual Inquiry. Carolina plays spades with her cousins and friends. Her immediate family does not know how to play spades. When she plays, it is played in a very competitive nature, which makes her feel “good and competitive.”

Cultural context:  In her freshmen year of college, African American students, specifically those from the South, taught Ms. Almonte how to play and she brought it home to teach to her cousins and friends. The informant usually plays spades at night or when there’s an event in the Black community such as a barbeque.

Item: Players choose who they want as their partner and a group of four people sit at a table with their partners across from them. The dealer takes out the jokers and then deals out the deck of cards. Each player should sort their own cards by suit and put them in numerical order. Next, the teammates bet on how many books they think that they can win together. Whichever team wins the hand is the ultimate winner. Those who renege do not face consequences.

Collected by: Deztiny Dennis


Card game/ performance folklore                                                                                Rheanna Tomey

“Spades”                                                                                                                            Hanover, NH

May 23nd, 2019

Informant data: Rheanna Tomey is a nineteen-year-old African American woman. She is a Dartmouth ’22 and was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.  She has two older sisters who are twenty-two and twenty-one years old.

Social Context: The informant learned how to play spades from her parents. She plays spades in a very competitive manner, especially when she is on her dad’s team because he is a very competitive person. Playing spades makes the informant feel “good.” It brings back good memories because it’s something that her family can do together and it has been a tradition in her family since she was ten years old.

Cultural context: The informant’s dad was born in Texas but grew up all over the world because his dad was in the military. Ms. Tomey’s mom is from Queens, NY and learned how to play spades from her parents. Both of her parents knew how to play spades before meeting each other. The informant usually plays spades with her parents and sisters. There’s five of them so they usually switch who plays and who is teamed up with who. They have played in airports when waiting for their flights, at parties, and when they desire a bonding moment.

Item: Teams of two are formed. Everyone puts their cards with their respective suits and in numerical order. Someone volunteers to be the scorekeeper. The winning team is the one that reaches three hundred points first. When playing, the informant focuses on which suits her partner does not have. Her winning strategy is to focus on making her books rather than making sure that the other team doesn’t make their books. Those who renege are always punished with a loss of books. The other team gains those books, which can help them ultimately win in the end.

Collected by: Deztiny Dennis

Crazy Gin

Card game/performance folklore                                                                                   Sabra Roegge

“Crazy Gin”                                                                                                                           Marietta, GA

May 21, 2019

Informant Data: Sabra Roegge is a 58 year-old living in Marietta, GA. Is Caucasian and was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

Social Context: The informant learned this game from her grandfather, who taught it to her entire family. With family members: sisters, cousins, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles playing almost every Saturday night in the summer for hours. Her grandfather was the best crazy gin player but the informant picked it up quickly and became competitive. It became a critical part of family time and was a game all of the adults in the family could enjoy and relax while playing

Cultural Context: The informant and her family were the only ones involved in the game crazy gin games, so it became a source of camaraderie and connection for the Jones family. The game took a meaning greater than just a card game, where the family members were excited and eager to pass down the game to younger generations of the family.

Item:  A highly competitive and cutthroat card game. Played by three to six players. It is a game of social interaction and wit. There are seven progressive rounds of play. 11 cards are dealt to each player. Each round ends when someone gets rid of all their cards, everyone else tallies their points. Each of the rounds is scored, the person with the lowest score after the final round wins. Each round is ended when one player fulfills the requirements of the round (e.g. three sets and three runs).

Collected by: Ryan Roegge


Card game/performance folklore                                                                                   Candler Harris

“Sequence”                                                                                                                            Rindge, NH

May 18, 2019

Informant Data: Candler Harris is a 25 year-old from Rindge, NH. He is Caucasian and is originally from Atlanta, GA.

Social Context: The informant told us that he first learned about the game “sequence” when he was in middle school at his family friends house. His parents played the game a lot but never included the informant until he was in high school. The informant became obsessed with the game from that point on. He would bring his high school buddies with him whenever his parents got invited over to their family friends’ house. They played for years together. Now, when our informant goes back home to Atlanta, he brings his older friends now to enjoy the game together.

Cultural Context: The informant, his parents, family friends, and his friends came together and played the game. They bonded over the game and it gave the informant a great opportunity to have his family get to know his friends better. Food was also a large part of the game nights. The informant’s family friend would sometimes cook brisket and pulled pork that satisfied everyone’s cravings before playing the game.

Item: This game can be played with two to 12 players. The player chooses a card from their hand, and places a chip on one of the corresponding spaces of the game board (Example: they choose Ace of Diamonds from their hand and place a chip on the Ace of Diamonds on the board). Jacks are wild. Two-Eyed Jacks can represent any card and may be used to place a chip on any space on the board. One-Eyed Jacks can remove an opponent’s token from a space. Players may use the Two-Eyed Jacks to complete a row or block an opponent, and One-Eyed Jacks can remove an opponent’s advantage. One-Eyed Jacks cannot be used to remove a marker chip that is already part of a completed sequence; once a sequence is achieved by a player or team, it stands. Once a Jack is played, it ends the turn, you are able to use the coin more than once to form a sequence. (The object of the game is to form rows of five poker chips on the board by placing the chips on the board spaces corresponding to cards played from the player’s hand.) The game ends when a player or team completes 2 sequences.

Collected by: Ryan Roegge


Card game/performance folklore                                                                                   Stewart Hanks

“Speed”                                                                                                                                   Athens, GA

May 20, 2019

Informant Data: Stewart Hanks is a 21-year-old student studying Economics. He is originally from Athens, GA. He is a Caucasian male.

Social Context: The informant said that he learned about this game from his older brother when he was 11 or 12 years old. Because it was such an easy game to play, he and his brother would play the game over and over for hours. The brothers then taught the game to the rest of the immediate family, the informant’s sister and parents. So they would often have two games going on at once and one person making sure that nobody was trying to cheat. The game was only played in the family room setting.

Cultural Context: The informant and his family became closer as they played the game, even though it was very competitive and people hated to lose. It became something that could bring them together when their lives took them in different directions. Now, when his parents visit the informant at college, they bring the game with them and play it in his dorm room.

Item: This is a very simple card game. The game has two players. You start with five cards in your hand. There are seven cards in two piles in front and to side of each player. The rest are in another two piles in front of each player. You each flip a card from your pile of seven, and using your five, you try to add 1 or subtract one to the card that’s sitting in front of you. When you get less than five in your hand, you pull a card from the individual pile in front of you. When no more moves are possible, you flip a card from the pile of seven to the top of the pile. The goal of the game is to run out of your hand and individual pile first.

Collected by: Ryan Roegge