I’m a bridge player and one of the problems I’m asked about is how to hold your cards so other players can’t see them.
It sounds obvious and easy if you’re an experienced bridge player, but do you remember the first time someone handed you 13 cards and asked you to hold them in one hand? Do you remember how difficult it was?
Unfortunately, I can’t add photos to this article, so I can’t show you how to do that using photos. You’ll have to be patient with me when describing the process – and offer an alternative solution for those who can’t manage to hold 13 cards in one hand.
Most card games are played with four players – Bridge is certainly a four player game. So I assume four players are sitting around a table, at 90 degrees apart – ie North, East, South and West.
Keeping your cards private from the player opposite you is not usually a problem, but it is more difficult to keep them private from the players either side of you.
You do not want these players to see your cards because it can give them an unfair advantage if they have seen any of the cards in your hand. They may also be embarrassed as knowing the composition of your hand cannot fail to influence their game play and may not be confident enough to let you know that your cards have become visible.
At the start of the game you will have received 13 cards, face down on the table in front of you. Pick them up and start by sorting them into four suits. At the moment there is no need to fan the cards, so you can grab them all in one hand and sort them with the other. Make sure the cards continue to face you. After sorting them into suits, sort each suit further in numerical order, with Ace high, followed by king, queen, jack, 10, 9 down to 2.
Once your cards are properly sorted, collect them all in one block, as if they have just taken a chunk of cards from the original pack. Now place these cards in one hand, with your thumb in front of the pile and your other fingers behind.
Then use your other hand to lightly support the cards. How far you fancy them out is a matter of personal choice and dexterity. If you’ve never done this before, you might find it easier to fancy them as little as possible to see the denomination of each card. This is why playing cards have a small version of their suit and number in each top corner, so they are easy to see when hand-held and rushed out.
Now, make sure your fanned hand is held facing you and that you do not turn them to face either of the people sitting to your right or left. If you have never played cards before, it may be helpful to buy a pack and practice holding them. It’s a basic skill for card players, but like every skill it takes practice.
If you find it difficult to hold the cards in between, simply unzip them and place them face down on the table. When your turn is approaching, lift them up again, place them between the thumb and the remaining fingers of one hand and fancy them out again.
Many people are unable to hold cards. There are a wide variety of reasons for this – contraction, arthritis, reduced strength or feeling, some are just shaking. This does not mean that you can no longer participate in card games, or that you can no longer keep your cards private. Buy a cardholder. They are not expensive and come in a few different types, so you would need to look and see which type suits your needs.
Most holders are straight, but for extra privacy you can buy curved cardholders. These are placed on the table in front of you and you can add the cards one at a time. They are easily available to buy online, use your favorite search engine to find them.