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Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

More fun, more often, for more people and other living things.

Card decks for more of us

If you've ever played with a cheap deck of cards, you can appreciate how important it is for playing cards to have the right kind of play. The US Playing Card Company has been around so long, and has perfected the process of formulating just the right, most flexible, shufflable, plastic laminate, that it has undeniably established itself as the industry standard.

I recently discovered that they also make "special" decks for the blind and vision impaired. This is not only laudable, but opens up new possibilities for all of us. It's laudable, because the blind and vision-impaired are a smaller, and hence less profitable market. And the possibilities it opens not only allow us to include more people in our play communities, but also to invent new games.

The Braille deck, for example. As any sighted person knows, Braille is really difficult to "read." Decoding those tiny bumps requires concentration and sensitivity that is beyond the reach of most of us. So, a set of Braille-encoded cards becomes a source for really challenging game play. Take out maybe three different pairs from your Braille deck. Shuffle them. Place them face up on the table. Close your eyes and play a game of Concentration where you try to find the pairs again. Don't be afraid to cheat. It's a hard game. If you get good at that, there's 46 more cards to play with, and Jokers, too.

The Lo-Vision cards are actually quite beautiful. There are no face cards, but the images are too complex to help the vision-impaired, and the large index (that's what they call the numbers and letters on playing cards) makes the deck that much easier to read for any player. There are also four colors instead of two, making it far easier to tell the suits apart, which also makes it easier to play. The game of Rummikub, which uses tiles instead of playing cards, uses this same principle. In fact, it makes me wonder why all decks aren't 4-colored.

Because the index is so easy to read, it's a perfect deck for playing the politically-incorrectly-named "Indian Poker" and almost ideal for playing my favorite big party game of Human Cards. Almost ideal because, though the large index makes it much easier to see cards from across a room, the small size of the cards makes it a little too easy for people to accidentally walk away with. Which is why I vastly prefer the Big Bicycle deck, which doubles the size of regular cards, measuring 4 5/8" by 7" and all but eliminates the problem of accidental pocketing.

As long as you're visiting the US Playing Card Company site, take a look at their concise and informative brief history of playing cards. Should you want a less brief, and somewhat other history of playing cards, check this site. And, while you're thinking about more games to try with your Braille cards, taste their quite delicious collection of children's card games.

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