Twice-Weekly Cribbage Enthusiasm
In Rapid City, South Dakota, a group of Cribbage enthusiasts meet twice every week to play their favorite game (Local cribbage club players keep ancient card game alive):
Twice a week, a group of mostly older men congregate in a back corner of the American Legion Hall on St. Patrick Street in Rapid City to keep alive a tradition of playing a centuries-old card game.
Beginning about 7 p.m., the members of the Black Hills Cribbage Club arrive. And while there's talk of their wives, their lives and sometimes their latest illnesses, the focus is mostly on playing cribbage with a healthy dose of ribbing and fibbing rolled in.
But while they congregate to socialize, for the next three hours they are mostly there to focus on playing competitive cribbage.
The cribbage regulars said like any card game, winning at cribbage is a mix of skill and luck. Hall estimated it was 80 percent luck and 20 percent skill. "That other 20 percent can help you win one once in a while," he said.
Beyond pride, money is almost always at stake. While winners of the local games can bring home a share of a $90 nightly purse, Vee bragged about trips to Reno, Nev., where he won a top prize of $4,000. He said with all the side betting that goes on, a good player could win upwards of $9,000 at a weekend tourney. (As expected, he doesn't discuss the losses.)
Unfortunately, "interest in cribbage seems to be on the wane", and "membership in the Black Hills Cribbage Club is about a third of what it used to be".
These are sad statistics. Some blame shorter attention spans. Some blame television or computers.
But perhaps this is just the normal waxing and waning of popularity that all games experience. Some games surge to popularity, becoming a fad, and quickly burn out. Others just keep on keeping on, perhaps becoming less popular at times, then coming back to life as a new generation learns to appreciate them,
Cribbage, offering a nearly unique position in gaming, as both a card game and a board game, is perhaps better-positioned than most to weather the fickle tastes of players.
Cribbage has been around for centuries; it's likely to be around for many more.
But a few more enthusiasts wouldn't hurt.
If you haven't tried the game of Cribbage yet, check it out. You might get hooked.
Photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal.