A look at card games in the middle of the twentieth century.
The popularity of card playing may be judged from the fact that in an average year sixty million decks of playing cards are sold at retail. In a six–month period in1949 this amount was doubled by the meteoric rise of a new card game (canasta) for which special cards devised and sold.
Some card games, such as poker, are invariably played for stakes of value. Other games, such as gin rummy, may be played for no stake at all. It is difficult to estimate how many players should be called gamblers, because many of the same individuals play both types of game. For example, about a million men and women play duplicate bridge with some regularity, no stake being involved. And probably half of the same individuals play rubber bridge for stakes at other times.
Most card playing takes place in the home. Sometimes it is couple against couple, in such games as bridge and canasta. Larger groups of women forgather in theafternoons, taking turns at providing facilities and refreshments. Mah–jongg is another favorite diversion of such groups. It is my informed opinion, based on no careful statistical study, that small stakes are involved in most of these games.
Most country clubs, tennis clubs, and athletic clubshave card rooms, as do also most large social and political clubs in the big cities. It may be that in such a card room a game is sometimes played for no stake, but I am inclined to doubt even the possibility.
Clubs maintained solely for card playing abound in the larger cities. Most bridge clubs, open to the general public, make available the equipment and the space, and serve as a meeting place for players of more than casual skill and interest in the game. The stakes are often quite small in relation to the means of the players, but a stake of some kind is usually involved.