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December 11th, 2012

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10:38 pm - Cards
A recent (re)obsession with me these days is playing cards.  I have a small collection of somewhat unusual decks of cards (which I have unfortunately been adding to rather extensively lately), and I seem to have infected my daughter with it as well (hi, Esther!) though she has a particular interest in card manipulation.  Anyway, some of these decks have unusual contents, like five suits (I used to have some with six), extra cards, etc.  It turns out that five-suit poker is actually a pretty good game, and with more cards more people can play it.  I'd first heard about it from a book from 1944 (The Modern Hoyle, by Albert Morehead) that I read ages ago when I was a kid.  I was so interested in the idea I went out to Woolworth's(!) and bought myself two decks of cards with the same back, pulled the diamonds out of one of them, and colored the pips blue with a permanent marker.  Shuffling them into the other deck, I had a five-suit deck of black spades, red hearts, black clubs, red diamonds, and blue splotches (I've since come across several commercially-produced five-suit decks).

So, for fun, I've been re-calculating the relative infrequencies of all the poker hands, then all the poker hands with five suits (which includes a new type of hand, a "flash," which has one card of every suit), poker hands with six cards (which allows for three pairs, two threes-of-a-kind, and a four-of-a-kind plus a pair), etc.  These various permutations of the standard rules all have their own effects on the table of hand-rankings.  I even computed odds for a hypothetical 51-card deck of three suits and 17 cards per suit.  The book I mentioned above mused that it would be really great to have a 60-card deck (either 4 suits with 15 cards each or 5 suits with 12 cards each), because 60 has so many divisors, so I did odds for those as well.

I have various ideas for playing card decks, and the U.S. Playing Card Company (maker of Bicycle and Bee cards, among others) offers some fine custom printing.  There are five-suit decks out there, but not of the quality you'd see in a Bicycle deck.  You can't custom-print one through the USPCC because their deck size is 56 cards.  But what if I printed a deck of four copies of the same "fifth" suit and combined those with four ordinary four-suit decks (with the same back)?  That would be a fine set of cards indeed!  Now all I need is about 400 people who'd want to buy one (100 decks is about the smallest I can get even through the USPCC's "third party" printer).  There's also an ordinary 4-suit deck I'm working on with custom pips; more on that if anything ever comes of it.

These are good projects, I would think, for Kickstarter, but even there I despair of getting needed support.  Just don't feel like I could muster enough marketing.

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[User Picture]
Date:December 12th, 2012 04:53 am (UTC)
Jack of Eagles, by James Blish. I remember reading my Dad's (or maybe Mom's) copy, curled up on the loveseat in the living room, in the fifties or sixties.

From one of the Amazon reader reviews: At the time that WWII started, the normal card deck temporarily acquired a fifth suite of cards, called eagles. Since the eagles suite was an oddball, the Jack of Eagles would be even odder than the other Jacks, and, thus, even wilder than the phrase, "Jacks are wild." might suggest.

That's rather misleadingly worded: the fifth suit (by whatever name) and accompanying game( modification)(s) was a fad and a marketing gimmick. And as I recall from reading the book in the late fifties or the sixties, the fifth suit was called Crowns in the UK (and possibly continental Europe), and Eagles in the US, with appropriately different symbols.

-- marqem la'Hom

Edited at 2012-12-12 04:54 am (UTC)

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