Thursday, August 09, 2012

Play at Cards

Play at                                                               
Regency Cards
I've just finished writing a Regency romance in which the characters play cards so I thought I would blog about the various games that were common in Jane Austen's time.
The table or room was often set aside the card players at any social gathering. In fact some parties were held just for the guests to play cards.
"The table or room set aside for card players is almost inevitable at any social gathering. Indeed, some parties are held for no other reason. Nearly everyone plays cards, so context often determines how enjoyable the game will be. Lively games with charming partners are enjoyable pastimes, while parties with no purpose other than making up with tables with dull company are to be appalled. In any event, everyone plays cards at some point, but his best to familiarise yourself with the rules of some of the most popular games."
Whist: related to the modern game of bridge, was often played and the rules are the same now as they were then.
Vingt –et –un: also known as Blackjack and Pontoon. Again the rules with the same 200 years ago as they are today; players try and assemble a hand that adds up 21.
Speculation: I don't think this game is played nowadays. It required two or more players, a standard deck of 52 cards and fish (counters) for betting or purchasing cards.
Each player receives an equal amount of fish. The dealer has six fish and the other players four fish each. Each player is dealt three cards. The dealer turns over the next undealt card and this is the suit of the trumps. The dealer turns over his first card. If this is an ace of the trump suit the game is over and the dealer wins the pot. If it is not an ace, the dealer may sell or auction the card to any other player, using fish for payment.
Gentlemen at Play
The next player then turns over one of his or her cards and decides to keep or sell it. This is repeated until all the cards originally drawn are revealed. In order to determine the winner the person in possession of the highest card of the trump suit, whether it had been dealt or purchased, wins the pot. The strategy is not to use up all your fish in buying cards.
Card Party

Piquet: this game as many striking similarities to the modern game of poker. The term ‘carte blanche’ originates here. This means if you have no court cards you declare that and receive 10 points immediately.
Quadrille: this is a popular game often favoured by older people. It is a game similar to whist but played with a deck of 40 cards and with many strange rules. Trump cards are always the same rather than changing game by game, and players bid or pass on each trick based on their current hand.
Loo: this is also similar to whist but with a flexible number of players. Stakes tended to be higher, as one bid and rebids on each trick in which one participated. In gambling halls the stakes could be ruinous, the country house parties loo was mostly harmless.
Cribbage: in the Regency cribbage was usually the five-card variety rather than the six-card cribbage that is played today. Each player is dealt five cards, and a score is determined by combinations of the cards in their hand or those discarded during the play, called ‘the crib’. The tally of points is recorded on a special pegboard and the first player to reach 61 points (over several hands) wins. I think this is how it's played today.

Reading about the card games has made me want to play some of them. I can remember when our children were tiny and we couldn't afford to go out, we would set up a card table and play Piquet and Bezique. (This was a 19th century French derivation from Piquet.)
We would buy a bottle of a cider called Pomagne and have an egg curry. Ah! Those were the days.
Best wishes
Bride for a Duke and The Duke’s Reform  available on Amazon Kindle.


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

How fascinating. Many years ago I came across some 'fish' in a junk shop and bought two (5p each!). They are made of mother of pearl, one in the shape of a fish and the other is an ellipse. Both are nicely carved.

I was reminded of Lydia Bennet going on and on about 'the fish she had lost and the fish she had won' in P and P.

Fenella Miller said...

Got a bit carried away with the subject.Tends to happen when I do any research.

Cara King said...

Interesting post! I love card games, both modern and Regency, though (oddly enough) I've never been a bridge player. :-)

I would argue, FWIW, that piquet isn't much like any version of poker I've ever played. It always seems to me like half a rummy-type game, and half an ordinary trick-taking game. (Which makes it extra fun, to my way of thinking!)