Sociable bridge & low stakes poker

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Years ago I blogged about an article describing men’s low stakes poker that sounded a lot like what goes on at women’s sociable bridge. Just last week I came across an article about a sociable bridge club in St. Paul’s Highland Park that compares IT to poker.

“Sounds like poker night for the boys, but the game is bridge” says author Richard Chin, describing the good-natured (no barbs) banter that goes on. It is the low stakes–but high side benefits of social connections and just plain fun–that make these clubs last for decades.

Along, of course, with a fascinating card game being played.

You can read the whole article at this URL–copy and paste, I never have figured out how to guarantee a working link.

The Highland Park club began in 1960 (or 1954, memories differ), and the youngest player is 82, oldest 94 (like me). In my sociable bridge club here in Florida, however–being Florida, paradise for early retirees–several of my bridge-playing friends could be my daughters.

This kind of card game will not satisfy players–bridge or poker–whose DNA demands competition and excellence. But for them too, playing bridge is, secondarily, about sociability and the friends and activities playing serious bridge brings as they grow old. 

The reason I celebrate these decades-old social bridge clubs that exist without any of the organization and funds of the ACBL clubs, is nobody else does. For me, sociable bridge clubs are far more of a popular culture phenomenon than serious bridge clubs are because of the structure and organization ACBL has.   

And also, to convince the marketers at the ACBL that the daughters and granddaughters of Highland Park (and the thousands of other beneath media radar social bridge clubs that exist) are where the market is if they want bridge to become what it once was. 

The appeal of serious competitive bridge is FINITE–the appeal of our kind of bridge INFINITE. The ACBL’s clubs needs to intrigue those boomers and younger with sociable bridge and THEN work on those who have the DNA for it to take up duplicate bridge. 

That’s my repetitious message. Now that I just may get an increased audience amongst ACBL Bridge Bulletin readers–I guess I’ll repeat it in one way or another for yet one more year.

Might as well also repeat for new subscribers this quote from two expert writers on popular culture–Helen & Robert M. Lynd. It was my light bulb moment way back when I first started reading about the history of bridge.

“It is conceivable that [bridge] never would have been anything but the sport of an esoteric few, had its growth depended entirely on the male world. Its development, however, has been primarily in the hands of women.”–Middletown in Transition (1937)

ACBL’s bridge for Masters Points will always be “the esoteric few” compared to the potential market of social bridge players.

My next blog, I think, will be about Scrabble & bridge–and what the ACBL can learn from Scrabble when it comes to marketing.






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