Tag Archives: card game

Drinking Game: King’s Cup

Contextual Data: I asked a friend of mine if there was any particular drinking game that she enjoyed playing, and she mentioned this game “Kings” or “King’s Cup.” I’d heard of the game once before, and I asked her if she could explain to me how it was played and why she enjoyed it so much. The following is an exact transcript of her response.  

“Um, okay, so… Kings is like a great game to play with like a whole bunch of people, because, well, you’re drinking, you’re all sitting in a circle, maybe you don’t really know everyone. So first you get a deck of cards, and you—everyone has cups, and of course, various alcohols, so whatever everyone is drinking, um… Maybe different pops or whatever or, like, mixed drinks. So you put one cup in the center of the deck of cards that you lay out in a circle in, like, kind of a fan around the center cup. And… Basically everyone just goes around and picks up a card when it’s their turn. So… I guess like… There’s rules, basically, that correspond with each card. I guess I can go over the rules.

“So when you get an Ace, um… I, I mean all the rules involve drinking. So every time you pick a card, something on that card is going to tell you an instruction on what you have to drink, how you have to drink it, um, who’s going to get stuck drinking, basically. And the point of the King’s cup is that as you go on, people are pouring, like, different things like their drink into that specific cup. And, um… it gets grosser and grosser, and at the end, the person who loses is gonna have to chug that disgusting, like, gross cup. Um, so…

“When you pull the cards—So you get an Ace. And if someone gets an Ace, um…it’s called ‘Waterfall,’ so the person who gets the card can, um, start drinking—whatever time they want—they start to drink whatever drink they have in their cup, and they can stop at any time, and—Oh! Everyone’s drinking at the same time. So everyone, um, in the circle of friends or whoever, starts drinking at the same time that person does, and then they can stop whenever they want, the next person can stop whenever they want, and that means the person next to them gets to stop whenever they want. So, basically, everyone’s getting screwed. Like, everyone’s getting plastered. Um, the second rule—a Two means You, so when it gets to Two, you have to drink. Three means Me, um, so—Oh wait. No. Two means You, so when you pick a Two you can designate someone that has to—so you like point to a person that you…has to take a drink. Three means Me, so when you pick that, um, you yourself have to drink. Four… Drinking games are sexist so Four means Whores, and all the women, um, in the group have to drink. That annoys me [Laughs]. As a side note. Um…Five means Jive. It’s like a really fun one. Um…Every—The person who picks it has to do a dance move, and the next person—in the circle—has to add on to it. And everyone’s probably drunk, so you have to keep building on to those dance moves, and if someone messes up, like the sequence, they have to drink. Um…It’s always fun to watch drunk people try and dance. And…Six means Dicks. More sexism. The men have to drink. Um…Yeah [Laughs]. That’s problematic. Then Seven is Heaven. Um…Everyone—the person who gets the card reaches up and puts both hands up to…touch the sky [Mimes putting both hands straight up in the air]. And the last person to notice and put their hands up has to drink. So if you’re not paying attention or, like, you’re just drunk or like, ‘What’s Seven mean?’ you get screwed and you have to drink. Um…Eight means Mate. So this is where you can pick someone and for the rest of the game when you have to drink—so when you are the last one to do the Seven Heaven thing or something that person has to drink too. And that’s a really good way to… Whatever. Either get back at someone or flirt with someone or whatever. Um, lets see. That was Eight—Eight means Mate. Nine is Rhyme. So…Someone—The person who draws the Nine thinks of a word and then everyone else after them has to, um, think of a rhyme to that word. And if they…The last person to either repeat the—something that someone’s already said or not be able to think of one has to drink. Um, Ten is Catagories. It’s like a similar idea, I guess. Um, so you pick a category, like ‘types of cereal’ or like… I don’t—Anything, really. It…In a party situation people usually pick something like…More vulgar. So ‘types of sexual positions’ or something and just like…Yeah. Interesting ways of getting people talking. And the last person—like the same thing with the rhyme—the last person to either mess up, not be able to think of one, or something else that someone’s already said has to drink. And then Eleven…Oh. No. There’s no Eleven in cards [Laughs]. Jack. Um, people play it differently, I guess. Like, there’s different rules, but when I play it, it just means, like, Jack means Back. I think other people play, like, Jack means, like, ‘Never Have I Ever’ or something. But that’s like a little aggressive to me…I don’t know. Um, Jack to Back is easier. So the person to the…Um, right of where you’re sitting when you pick the Jack has to drink. And… Queen is Question Master. So when the person draws the Queen, um, they kind of, like, don’t tell anyone. They might just say, like, ‘Oh, I got the Queen. I’m Question Master.’ But maybe no one notices and so that person, um, whenever they ask questions from that point—‘till someone else draws a Queen—they’re the Question Master, and if you answer—if someone playing answers the question that they’re asking, um, you have to drink. So, you can really mess with people because you just ask them, like, ‘Hey, is there anymore, like, in that cup or anything?’ If they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah! I can see some—Aww, you made me drink, like [Laughs], fuck you.’ Um [Laughs]. And…The King is like the whole point of the game—the King’s Cup. So when you get a King, you get to pick a rule for the game, like—same thing with the Queen, until someone else gets the King. And, um…The… So you might make a rule, like, ‘No swearing.’ And everyone’s drunk, so that’s pretty hard. [Laughs.] So if you do swear you have to drink. And then—or any kind of rule, basically. There’s like a few common ones, like…Again, like to mess with people, like…Whatever. There’s like…Yeah. Um, and then for the last King, whoever draws the last King, um—we kind of keep track—has to drink the King’s Cup and the game’s over…And they’re clearly messed [Laughs].”

– End Transcript –

When I asked my friend why she thought people played this particular game, she mentioned that it’s somewhat different from other drinking games, like Beer Pong or Flip Cup, because it doesn’t require any sort of “athletic” skill, it’s a game that could be played with large groups of people, and it’s a game that moves fairly quickly. She also mentioned that it’s a good game to get people talking and socializing. She said that she first learned to play it in college, and that it is particularly fun to play with people who have never played before, because when you first learn, it’s difficult to keep track of the rules, and so the “newbies” end up getting drunk very quickly. In that sense, it also seems to be a kind of initiation ritual in the drinking culture that’s often so prominent in the college social setting.

Her answer was fairly thorough and seemed to provide an insightful reason as to way the game is passed on — in particular that it is about getting drunk quickly (which is usually the reason people play these games) and that it does seem like a very good game to play to get people to start speaking and socializing with one another, which is certainly part of its appeal.

Annotation: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.game.card&feature=also_installed#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEwNCwiY29tLmdhbWUuY2FyZCJd
Interestingly enough, the game was made into an app for the Android, for those that don’t have a deck of cards handy. Different versions of the app do offer different sets of rules, which underscores that there are many variations to the game. It’s also interesting to note that the app exists under the name “Waterfall Drinking Game” and that an alternative name is “Ring of Fire,” which both emphasize that it is ultimately a game about getting drunk, which again, is why people usually play such games.

Remyk

My informant was born in Boston, but his parents immigrated to the United States from Poland. He is an American citizen, but he has spent a few summers in Poland, and his parents keep many Polish traditions alive in his household. He told me about a card game that a Polish visitor taught him. This is his account:

“Okay so, the game is Remyk. You can play it with anyone you want, because it’s a card game. I learned it from my great-aunt, who came to visit us from Poland. It’s often played by middle-aged people who basically tailgate the parking lot after church. So you play this game with two decks, that’s important. The game is, you get thirteen cards, and you draw from the pile to get fourteen. And you want to get a sequence—so like, 2, 3, 4—or you want like three of a kind of four of a kind. And they’re all worth points; face cards are all worth ten. And to start off, you need to get 52 points before you can, like, lay any cards out. And if you can’t, you have to discard one, so you go back to thirteen cards. And eventually, you’ll have a combination of sequence, and like three of a kind or something, so it all adds up to 52. And then you drop that. So let’s say you drop nine cards, because you have like a 7-8-9 and like, three queens and three jacks. And then you still have, what, 5 cards left? And you discard one and you have four. So then from there the goal is to get rid of all your cards, and you can do so by like, adding on. So you have three queens and you pick up a queen, you can add it, because it’s like the same. Or you can add on to like a sequence. And if it’s like three queens, it has to be the fourth kind. And you just play until you’re done—until the last card is discarded.”

Analysis: My informant associates this card game with Polish culture for a couple of reasons. First of all, he learned it from a Polish relative. Secondly, as he said, the adults who he saw playing this game were all Polish, and they typically played in the parking lots of Polish churches. Yet he also admits that this game is basically gin rummy, a card game enjoyed by all nationalities of people today. A quick Google search of “origins of rummy” yields answers ranging from New York City to “the orient.” This game, then, is yet another example of the dissemination of traditions, and how difficult it is to pinpoint exactly which culture can “claim” something as their own. For my informant, this game connected him to the country his parents grew up in as well as to the various groups of people with whom he played the game. He said he usually played Remyk with his family, so the game was something for them to bond over. Therefore, Remyk is not only culturally significant to my informant, but it is important to him on an individual level as well. It connects him to his family. It is fascinating how something as simple as a card game can have more impactful implications when explored more deeply.

Oh, Hell

My informant told me about a special card game that is unique to her family. This is her explanation of the rules of the game and the context it is played in:

“Okay, so this family tradition is  a card game that we play, and my grandparents brought it to the family. It was my grandmother’s grandma who taught it to her, and then my grandma taught my grandpa, and now it’s a big part of that side of the family. So whenever we get together for family traditions or for weddings—even if it’s not for everybody, even if it’s just my parents getting together with my grandparents—we always play this game. It’s called ‘Oh, Hell’. Everybody starts with ten cards, and you work your way down. The first round is ten, then nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and you go back up to ten. And so every time you have your cards and there’s a card that’s trump, so that suit is trump, and you bid on how many cards or how many tricks you will take. It’s kind of like you’re bidding on how many you will get, and you want to get that many tricks. But then, sometimes you’ll get too many or too little, and there’s a point system that goes along with that. And we made our own score sheets for it. And it’s very much so a family thing, because it’s not a common card game that many people know of. We have taught other people, but nobody knows it right off the bat. Um, and… yeah. So I just went to wedding in Arkansas for a cousin on my mom’s side of the family, and all our relatives were there, so of course we played ‘Oh, Hell’. And we had—like we always do—we had multiple tables playing the game. And then, I guess we had two tables going, and then the top winners at each table created a winners table, and the losers at each table created a losers table. Um, and it went form there. So we had the big winner, and then the winner of the losers, and all that stuff. So it is a big thing, definitely on just my mom’s side of the family. We don’t play it on my dad’s side; it’s just a [name redacted] family tradition.”

My informant’s description of ‘Oh, Hell’ indicates how important this card game is to her family. It signals to them that they are all members of this family, because the people that immediately know how to play are all related. This is one activity that unites all the relatives, and as my informant said, it is especially meaningful when played at large family reunions or weddings. It brings all of the extended family together. My informant’s relatives live all around the country, so I can see that traditions like this are quite valuable in the way that they unify everyone. My informant is extremely close to her parents and to her brother; she is used to growing up in a very tight-knit family. ‘Oh, Hell’ allows her to grow closer to all of the people she is related to on her mother’s side. It is evident that one of the reasons her family stays so close is because of games like these that they can bond over. Thus, it is evident that one of the many functions of folklore is that it can be used to strengthen family bonds and build connections between relatives.

Spoons the Card Game

My informant first played this game in middle school and played it through high school.  His friend taught him when they were hanging out together.  He told me the rules as we played a small game together.  It was typically played with four people, but could be played with more.  To play, spoons are placed in the middle of the circle and there is always one less spoon than players.  It doesn’t have to be spoons, but it is the most preferable.  Each player has five cards. The first player draws a card from the deck and discards one next to him. The next player picks up that card and discards one of their own. And it goes on through the circle.  The goal is to get four of a kind and when you do, the player with four of a kind grabs a spoon.  Once one player grabs a spoon, all the others quickly try to grab one as well.  One player will not have a spoon and they lose.  The game can be played with elimination, but casual games just keep track of who lost the most times.

This game is not like typical American games where there is one winner.  A player has to rely on the other members, but at the same time tries to trick them. What you have in your hand depends on what the person ahead of you has given you and to not lose, you have to pay attention to the other people in the circle.  However, a player wants to be the first one to get four of a kind so that they will defiantly have a spoon and not lose. At the end, everyone who does not have four of a kind must compete with each other to get the spoon. This game is typically played at a time where kids are starting to learn how to interact with others in a way that is mutually beneficial, while still a bit self-serving.  It teaches that there is a balance between the two, and good players know how to work that balance to their advantage. You don’t have to be lucky to win this game, just fast and good at reading people.