Thursday, June 09, 2016

You Know Uno, Don’t You?

Last weekend I enjoyed a family holiday in Charleston, South Carolina, kind of a three-day weekend. In between visits to the pool, walks on the beach, and a couple of fun meals dining out, I played games with my now seven-year-old nephew, about whom I’ve written here before.

He got himself a big, thick deck of Uno cards at some point in the last year, and on a couple of occasions now we’ve played, including on this trip. It might be the first card game I’ve played with him in which he doesn’t make up new rules along the way, but sticks to the actual rules of the game. That said, he has invented some sort of postscript-type game involving three cards and picking one which he breaks out at the end of every Uno game, so he’s still adding to the standard game with this one, too.

If you know Uno, you know the goal of the game is to discard all of your cards before your opponent does, with “Uno” being the word called out when a player is down to just a single card. The deck is comprised of four colors (red, green, blue, yellow) with the cards numbered, and there are a few special cards thrown in as well that reverse the order of play, skip a player, force an opponent to draw extra cards, and function as wild cards enabling the player to change the current color.

This video spoofing Anime actually does a good job capturing what a game with my nephew is like:

I believe players are supposed to start with seven cards, but my nephew likes to start with many, many more. We began with 26, actually, and that picture up top shows how difficult it was to hold that many at once (and that’s with adult-sized hands). I joked on Twitter that he likes “deep-stacked” Uno, and it’s true that starting with more cards does mean the game will go on a bit longer (ensuring there will be “more play”).

In a game last weekend, I managed to get down to “Uno” twice but each time was thwarted by my nephew playing a card requiring me to draw. Then eventually he got down to one card while I only had 4 or 5. The upcard was a blue four, and I had both a blue card and a red four, meaning I could either keep it the same color or change it.

I managed to talk myself into keeping it blue, and sure enough he had another blue card and won the game. When I showed him my red four he insisted I should have played it and changed the color, although I think he was just being results-oriented, knowing that had I done that he wouldn’t have won (not then, anyway).

Thinking afterwards, I decided it probably was a better play to change the color, as it often happens in Uno you play several cards of the same color in a sequence until you run out, then work on the next color -- meaning the chances were probably slightly better that he had another blue card in his little hand than not.

I think he’s probably about ready to learn about the rankings of poker hands. We’ve played War before, but no poker games. Simple five-card draw would have to be the best place to start, I’d think.

That’s the game that has been on my mind lately, and is the first poker game I learned, I remember... probably when I was about his age.

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