I’m a bridge player and one of the problems that I’m asked about is how to hold your cards so that other players can’t see them.
Sounds obvious and easy if you are an experienced bridge player, but do you remember the first time someone gave you 13 cards and asked you to hold them in one hand? Do you remember how hard it was?
Unfortunately, I can’t add pictures to this article, so I can’t show you how to do it using illustrations. You’ll have to bear with me while I describe the process – and also offer an alternative solution for those who cannot manage to reliably hold 13 cards in one hand.
Most card games are played with four players – bridge certainly is a game for four players. So I will assume that four players are sitting around a table, at 90 degrees from each other – ie North, East, South and West.
Keeping your cards private from the player opposite you isn’t usually an issue, but keeping them private from the players either side of you is more difficult.
You don’t want these players to see your cards as it can give them an unfair advantage if they have seen any of the cards in your hand. It may also be embarrassing for them as knowing the composition of your hand can’t fail to influence their game play and they may not be confident enough to let you know that your cards have become visible.
At the start of the game you will have been dealt 13 cards, face down on the table in front of you. Pick them up and start by sorting them into their four suits. At this stage there is no need to fan out the cards, so you can grab them all in one hand and sort them with the other. Make sure the cards remain facing you. Once sorted into suits, further sort each suit by numerical order, with Ace being high, followed by king, queen, jack, 10, 9 down to 2.
Once your cards are properly sorted, gather them all together 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 gently fan out the cards. How far you fan them out is a matter of personal choice and dexterity. If you’ve never done this before, you might find it easier to fan them out by the minimum needed to see the denomination of each card. This is why playing cards have a mini version of their suit and number at each top corner, so that they are easily visible when hand held and fanned out.
Now, make sure that your fanned hand is held facing you and that you don’t turn them to face either of the people sitting to your right or left. If you have never played cards before, it might be helpful to buy a pack and practice holding them. It’s a basic skill for card players, but like all skills it takes practice.
If you find holding the cards difficult between turns, simply unfan them and place them face down on the table. When your turn is approaching, pick them up again, place them between the thumb and remaining fingers of one hand and fan them out again.
Many people are unable to hold cards. There are a whole variety of reasons for this – amputation, arthritis, reduced strength or feeling, shaking being just some. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still take part in card games, or that you can no longer keep your cards private. Purchase a card holder. They aren’t expensive and come in a few different types, so you’d need to take a look and see which type suits your needs.
Most holders are straight, but for added privacy you can buy curved card holders. These are placed on the table in front of you and you can add the cards one at a time. They are readily available for purchase online, just use your favourite search engine to find them.