Saturday, July 16, 2022

Having trouble signing in? Try this!

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Sometimes, I get an email from a user saying that they can’t sign in to the website.

I know it happens, but I can’t figure out why. Most people do not have this problem. And I’m one of them. I can sign in with no problems in two different web browsers: Firefox and Chrome.

How do I sign in? I click the “sign in” link in the upper right corner of the site. This causes a little panel to open with a place for my username and password, and a button labeled “Sign In”. I click my mouse into the username area, and type in my username. Then, I click the password text input, and type in my password. Then I click the “Sign In” button with my mouse. Voila, I’m signed in!

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how I do this, in case it’s not clear from my description.

One thing I didn’t mention above is that sometimes, a web browser will “remember” my username and password. When I go to the site, and open the Sign In form, those form inputs that I mentioned above will be filled out for me. This can also happen if I’m using a password manager of some sort.

That’s convenient! And I think that in most cases, the browser’s attempt to fill in the form works. However, for some people, it does not, and clicking the “Sign In” button does not work when the inputs have not been filled in manually.

There’s another case where problems can occur. The web browser may “autocomplete” some words for you. For example, you might start to type your username, and the browser fills it in before you can finish typing.

This is another case where a feature of the web browser seems to work for most people, but in rare cases, something goes wrong. So if you’re having trouble signing in, try ignoring the “autocomplete” feature of your browser, and just completely type in your full username and password, and then click the “Sign In” button.

I hope this helps you get signed in to World of Card Games, or any other sites where you’re having problems logging in!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

What Would You Bid? A Hand of Spades

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Here’s a fun puzzle for people who play the card game Spades.

Take a look at this hand of cards that I was dealt recently. Here’s a link to the Spades hand history for anyone who wants to see the full hand.

I was dealt 5–8–10 of clubs, 10-Q of diamonds, 2–3–8 of spades, and 3–4–5–9-J of hearts. I bid 1! Why?

My partner was first to bid. They bid 6, meaning their hand was pretty good. I don’t know about you, but when I see my partner make such a high bid, my mind immediately thinks “Can I bid nil?”

And if you look at my cards, at first glance, there’s a good argument for a nil bid. I’d argue that I might be lucky to even get one trick if I tried!

I’ve got three spades, but they’re all low. I’m long in hearts, five of them, and the highest is the Jack. And I’ve got three clubs, all low.

If I bid nil, it’s unlikely that I’ll get set in clubs or hearts. What about diamonds, though? There’s the catch. I’m holding the 10 and Queen of diamonds. There are eight cards out there that are lower than my 10 of diamonds: the two through nine. On top of that, I’m also holding the Queen. It seems to me that if I bid nil, I’d very likely get set with diamonds unless I got very lucky.

And in fact, if you look at everyone else’s hands in this hand history, you can see that if I’d bid nil, it would have been very risky. Imagine my teammate leading with the Ace of diamonds. That works fine and I’d get rid of my Queen. Eventually, though, it would be likely that one of my opponents would wind up leading with diamonds. If they’re smart, they’d lead with their lowest diamond, and at that point my nil would be toasted! My opponents both hold diamonds that are lower than the 10, and my teammate doesn’t have any higher diamond to cover the 10. So unless my opponents made a bone-headed move, that’d be the end of my nil.

Bidding nil can so often win the game for you that it’s tempting to do so whenever possible. And it’s fun, to boot! But there’s something else to consider here. Look at the scores. You’ll see that this is an end-game scenario. My teammate and I need to take a total of five tricks to cross 500 points and win the game. Our opponents are far behind us and have no chance of winning if the game ends at this hand.

My feeling is that anyone who bids nil in this case is not playing to win, but just loves bidding nil and taking big risks. My safest bet is to bid one. And that’s what I did.

There’s a risk in that, as well. What if I can’t even take a single trick? It’s possible that my hand is so weak that my opponents would set my bid of one! But I do have three spades, and I’m kind of short in diamonds. I’m going to hope that once all my diamonds are taken, I’ll be able to trump in on a diamond trick. And if that fails, I’m hopeful that my teammate’s hand is so strong that they will take an extra one and cover my bid that way.

Things could have gone differently. The only way that my team could have lost this hand would be if we got set. We got lucky, and I actually wound up taking two tricks, one more than I’d bid. We won! 😃

This is one of the things that I love about Spades. You often need to think — and think again — to figure out the winning tactic. I might have bid differently if the scores were reversed, and we had nothing to lose. I might have made a more risky bid earlier in the game, too.

I hope you have some fun thinking about what you would do if you were dealt this hand of cards! And if you enjoy playing Spades against the computer or other people, give it a try at World of Card Games!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

How to Play Ranked Card Games

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Did you know you can get ranked for many of the card games at World of Card Games? I thought everyone knew this… but maybe I’m wrong.

Recently, I got an email. Someone said it was taking them a long time to get a ranked game going. They suggested that I write a blog post about ranked games. Surely, more people would play ranked games if they knew about them.

I thought to myself, “but, the site has a big message at the top of the screen that says you can play ranked games at World of Card Games! Everyone sees that, and knows the drill. Don’t they??”

There’s a link at the top of the page to a post about ranked games

Well, just in case some people are not aware, I’m going to explain what ranked games are, how to get to them, and how it all got started.

Ranked games give you a score — an “Elo rating” — that is visible to others. This system was originally developed for chess, but has been applied to many other games, including card games.

When you play your first ranked game, your Elo rating defaults to 1500. It gets higher the more ranked games you win. If you lose a ranked game, your rating goes down. For some people, it adds a little bit of competition and excitement to the game. If a person has an Elo rating, you can see it by clicking on the person’s avatar.

World of Card Games did not originally have any rankings. The total number of your wins and losses was recorded, together with a few other statistics, and that was pretty much it. These stats were only visible to you.

There seemed to be a demand for something a little more official. People would email me, saying that the site really needed a ranking system. I guess some people wanted to prove that they were better than your run-of-the-mill card player!

That was okay with me. However, I also chatted with some people who told me that they were vehemently opposed to rankings! This surprised me. Some people just didn’t want any extra competitive element in their games. They wanted the games to stay friendly and casual.

That feedback is why the default option for the site is unranked. And it’s also the reason that it can take longer for ranked games to start, especially at times of the day when it’s less busy. I wish that there was something I could do about this. However, I think it’s most important for everyone to play the way that they prefer, even if it means games take a little longer to start.

Anyway, after a little research, I developed an Elo ratings system, and in October of 2015, people could start to play ranked Hearts! The formula was modified over time based on feedback from players. You can read the details of the Elo ratings system for team games like Spades and Double Deck Pinochle here, or for Hearts here. Over time, the option to play ranked games was added to Spades, Euchre, Double Deck Pinochle, and Twenty-Nine.

Aside from the rating system, there are some rules that apply solely to ranked games.

First, only registered players can play at ranked tables. Guest numbers change over time, so recording an Elo rating for a Guest doesn’t make sense. And because Guest numbers can change, it’s difficult for others to recognize them. I encourage people to register at the site, so that people can then play with people they recognize and like. I hope that giving registered players the ability to play ranked is a good incentive for people to register.

Second, you cannot play a ranked game until you’ve completed 10 games at the site. This is done to make sure that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the site before you try to play against others competitively.

Third, you won’t get ranked unless you specifically choose to be. You do this by taking a seat at a ranked table. Ranked tables show up as purple in the list of tables.

A ranked table appears in purple in the list of tables

You can also play a ranked game by clicking on the Menu button for your game, and clicking the link to “Play Ranked”. Here’s a screenshot showing the Menu button.

The Menu button

Another way to access ranked games is by visiting the home page for your game, where you’ll see a link for ranked tables. There are separate home pages for Hearts, Spades, Double Deck Pinochle, Euchre, and Twenty-Nine. Those are all the games that can be ranked at World of Card Games.

Since ranked games are competitive, there are some penalties if you do something wrong. Specifically, if you quit a ranked game, and don’t return to it within three minutes, you will get banned from ranked play for two hours and you forfeit the game. This penalty is applied to deter quitters, since that behavior upsets a lot of people!

There’s one more thing to note. If you’re one of those people who really does not want to be ranked, and you want to make sure that you never get seated at a ranked table accidentally, then there’s a setting you can apply. From the home screen, click your name in the upper right corner. A panel opens with various settings. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll come to the “Rank me” area. If you uncheck any of those boxes, you will not be seated at any ranked tables in the future. If you change your mind, you can check these boxes again, but it will be seven days before you will be allowed to play ranked again.

“Rank me” settings are found by clicking your name in the upper right corner

Well, I think this is all you need to know about ranked games! Feel free to contact me or comment if you have any questions.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Worst Hand of Spades Ever

A terrible hand of Spades!

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

This post is for people who love to play the card game Spades. One of the fun things about Spades is being surprised by a fantastic hand of cards — a lot of aces, kings, and trump cards (spades). It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you just know you’re going to be able to make a high bid. And you’re hoping that your teammate will be able to bid nil, too.

There’s another kind of hand in Spades that is also great, although it seems like a bad one when you first think of it. You’ve got a handful of low cards — twos, threes, etc., and just one or two trump cards (or maybe no trump at all). What a terrible hand! It would take a lot of luck to win even a single trick with it. Fortunately, in this situation, you can turn your poor luck into good luck by bidding nil. With so many low cards, your nil will likely work, leading to 100 points for your team.

There are other hands of cards that can be work well for bidding nil, like when you have a void in a suit (meaning, you have no cards in one suit at all). In some cases, you can successfully bid nil even if you have some aces in your hand. Just don’t absentmindedly bid nil when you’re holding the ace of spades, or you will possibly incur the wrath of your teammate! 😅

It’s starting to sound like Spades is all sunshine and roses, isn’t it? No matter what hand you get, you’ll always figure out some way to turn it into a winner. In fact, that’s not the case. Recently, I played a game of Spades, and I was dealt the type of hand that I dread. It was filled with middle cards — the Jack, the 10, the 9. If I tried to bid nil, I would probably get set. And if I bid one? That would very likely get set as well. I was second to bid, so I didn’t know what kind of hand my partner had, and all I could do was bid one,and hope they could cover my bid if I didn’t make it. You can run the hand history to see how it went. You can read about the hand history feature in another one of my blog posts if you’d like to see how it works. Long story short — the total bid wound up being 12, and I thought the opponents might set us. We got lucky, though!

Can you think of an even worse hand of Spades than the one I described here? If so, please leave a comment. And thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

An Exciting Game of Double Deck Pinochle

Double run in the final hand!

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

A few months ago, I received an email from a Double Deck Pinochle player, “Tigre”, who plays the game at World of Card Games. He’d had a fun game to report. I asked him if it would be okay to share it, and he said yes… so here it is.

This game was a rated (or ranked) game, so there was probably an extra touch of pressure on everyone involved! 😃

It sounded like my favorite sort of game. There was a struggle in which one team would pull ahead, and then fall behind, back and forth, throughout the game.

In the next to last hand, the score had gotten to 499–460, with Tigre’s team at 460. Every single point that had been made counted. If the opponents had taken just one extra point anywhere during the game, it would have been over by now. As fate would have it, an extra hand would be played to decide the winners.

In the last hand, the initial bid was made by Tigre’s right-hand opponent. That person started the bid at 50. In Double Deck Pinochle, a bid of 50 is a “captaincy” bid or “take” bid. It tells the teammate, “I want to declare the trump suit (aka make trump). Let me know if you have any good meld.”

Tigre must have been disappointed with having to pass. His hand was not strong enough to make a bid. His opponent on the left bid 51, a pretty clear signal that this person wanted to make trump. It was not looking good — both opponents must have had good hands with a decent chance of winning the game if they were able to call the trump suit.

Tigre’s teammate responded with a bid of 65! Was she bluffing? No way to tell. The next opponent would have to bid 70 to challenge this bid, but that did not happen. Tigre’s teammate made trump! When meld was displayed, it turned out that she had a double run (see the screenshot above), meaning a very strong hand with great meld — 162 meld, in fact, just fantastic! To make things even more interesting, one of the opponents also had a run in the trump suit.

Tigre wrote me that even with that fantastic meld for his team, he knew that the game wasn’t decided until the hand had progressed. In the end, though, his team did win the game!

The games I love the most are the ones where there’s a huge battle and you never know what will happen until the last card is played. What do you think? Would you prefer an easy win, or do you love the struggle too?

For anyone who is curious to know even more details of that last hand, here’s the hand history. You’ll need to visit Power Pinochle’s hand animator tool, and copy and paste the hand history into their form to see each round of cards as it was played. Have fun with it!

This hand history for Double Deck Pinochle can be replayed using the Power Pinochle hand animator - Copy and paste the text below into their form and follow the instructions.

% Format "PPN 1.0"
% Site ""
% Date "2022.01.15"
% ID "164229406412410"
% Players "N-Ju E-mr S-TH W-Ti"
% tableid "61f623d4-4177-4960-bc0b-a0c00ecc1d9d"

[GameScores "499:460"]
[Auction "S:50 51 53 65 Pass Pass Pass"]
[Contract "E 65 H"]
[Play "E"]
[MeldScores "41:174"]
[PlayScores "19:31"]
[Result "SAVED"]
[HandScores "0:205"]

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Entrepreneur

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

This weekend, I clicked through a long list of emails in my inbox. I’d been busy with my other job for over a week, and hadn’t had time to check email for World of Card Games in a while.

Even when I get busy, I make it a point to respond to all questions, eventually — except for the most rude ones!

But I have to admit, it wears me down.

Ninety percent of the emails that land in my inbox fall into one of two categories. The first category is the tech support email. The writer is using the site, and it doesn’t work the way that they expect. So they send me an email with a question.

In fact, I’m delighted to get these emails! This may seem odd. However, most often, the person writing to me just doesn’t realize that, in fact, World of Card Games can do what they want. I’d prefer that they write to me so that I can explain how they can use this or that feature. I hope they can use that information to have more fun playing cards just the way that they want! If someone is playing cards at World of Card Games on a regular basis, I’d hate for them to be frustrated by the experience. I always tell people that if the site doesn’t do what they want, they should go play somewhere else. And I mean it! The site is there to entertain you, and I want people to have a good time at it. If I can help by pointing out an undiscovered feature to a person with a problem, that makes me happy.

The other category of email is the one with the angry complaint. A person has become completely frustrated or angry by something that happened at the site, and they are going to blast me about it — even if there’s nothing I can do to help or it isn’t my fault. This type of person sometimes gives me business advice. They tell me that I should run the site this or that way, and if I don’t, then I’m an incompetent nincompoop. Sometimes they rant at me for being a bad software developer. After all, if the site suddenly stopped responding, it’s 100% my fault, and has nothing to do with their Internet provider, bad WiFi, or old computer…

I try not to take this category of email personally. I guess some people need to vent, and don’t understand that it’s actually extremely difficult to run a multiplayer game site — especially as a solo developer. There are no big corporate bucks behind World of Card Games. I provide the site free of charge. There is a column on the right side of the page with space for one or two ads. The ad revenue makes it possible for me to keep the site running, but it doesn’t provide me with revenue to hire staff to support or build out the site. It’s just me and it probably always will be.

When I get an angry email, it surprises me how much perfection some people expect from a free service.

I don’t often get emails from those people who are happily enjoying the site. And I don’t expect it, in fact! Why bother? Most people — including myself, I confess — don’t think to make a comment when everything is going right. In fact, you may not notice when everything is going right. It’s when things go wrong that you’re more likely to jump off your couch to register a complaint.

Prior to running World of Card Games, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I guess you could say I was a “wantrepreneur”. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know how. I was always a full time employee, and I had trouble coming up with ideas for how to develop a profitable business, doing something that I could at least tolerate (or, heavens, maybe even enjoy!).

Once World of Card Games fell into my hands, I became a real entrepreneur. It has turned out to be a mixed bag. It’s not highly profitable. People complain. A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is negative. There have been many times in the last few years when I’ve wondered why I keep doing it. And in fact, I’ve had to stop working full time on World of Card Games. I find I can make a better living doing other things. It’s now my side hustle, which is why it can take me a while to respond to email.

This brings me to the topic of this post. Today, I clicked on an email. The person had written the following to me:

No complaints marya just a thank you for your site. There is a occasional {should not be there} person but most are very nice people who love playing Euchre. Thank you for putting up with all of us.

At the end of the email was a little smiley face.

I practically broke down and cried. It has been a stressful week. I don’t expect emails with a simple thank you. It’s rare, and this person just blew me away with kindness. I wrote back to let this lovely person know how much I appreciated the thoughtful email.

Since I became a business owner, I’ve made an effort to give positive feedback at businesses that I frequent. In my experience, entrepreneurship is difficult and often thankless. If someone’s small business brings me joy, I want them to know about it. I encourage you to do the same. Let me be clear, this is not a request for you to send me a thankful email, although obviously I’d appreciate it 😃 But the next time you go into someone’s diner or shop, and you enjoy the experience, maybe take a moment to say thanks! Some days, a kind word can make all the difference!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

How to Find Family Members and Friends at Private Tables

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Recently, someone wrote to me with a problem. The email went like this: “I play Pinochle with my family at a private table every week. But recently, my brother and I can’t get to the same private table. My other relatives and I can be at the same table, but then when my brother tries to join, he is seated at an empty table, and can’t find us. If I leave the table, then he can get to the table with my family as expected, but then I can’t get to that table. What’s going on?”

I feel pretty bad when this happens. I hope that everyone who experiences this problem writes to me about it, so I can help, but I do wonder if there are people who just don’t think to send me a tech support email. This post will explain what’s going wrong and how to solve it. I hope anyone who searches for the answer to this type of problem will find it here.

I explained a few weeks ago that you can play at private tables at World of Card Games. Usually, people who play at private tables just want to chat amongst friends and/or family. It may not be quite as good as getting together over a card table in real life, but it’s a good substitute. And personally, I think it’s more fun than Zoom! Although, when I think about it, there’s nothing to stop you from Zooming and playing a multiplayer online card game at the same time!

Anyway — private tables have most of the features that are available at public tables. One of those features is the “dislike” button. The dislike button is a little red circle with a white x in the middle. As you can see in the screenshot below, it appears next to every person at the table (except yourself… you cannot dislike yourself!).

The dislike button is a red circle with a white x

If you click the dislike button next to a player, there’s usually no immediate effect (although in some cases it can lead to a person getting kicked from the table). But the site remembers your preference. You will not be seated with this person in the future. That’s useful to avoid people that you don’t want to play with again, for any reason. But if you click the dislike button next to one of your friends or relatives, by accident, you won’t ever see them at the site again! Not good!

This is only a problem if you don’t realize what’s happened. If you find that you can’t get seated with one of your friends or relatives, just take a moment, and look at your list of disliked players. This list appears in a panel that opens when you click on your user name in the upper right corner of the screen. I’ve got a screenshot of the list below.

Manage Likes and Dislikes at World of Card Games

Notice at the very top of the screen, you see my user name. I’m a guest — “Guest #2,163”. That user name is clickable. Clicking on it opens the panel that you see here. You want to scroll down the panel, and eventually you will come to the area that’s labeled “Manage Dislikes”. If you see someone in that list who doesn’t belong there, click the “(remove)” link. That undoes the dislike immediately, and the site will no longer keep you from sitting with that person. Problem solved!

In this situation, you will want to make sure that all the players in your group of friends and family have not disliked each other. I recommend that people who play at private tables actively “like” each other when they first get together. To “like” a player, click the yellow star to the right of the person. That yellow star is shown in the first screenshot, too. Once you “like” a player, the “dislike” button goes away. This keeps you from accidentally clicking it in the future.

I hope you all have fun playing free multiplayer cards online at World of Card Games with your family and friends. And if you’re ever feeling a bit bored, but can’t get a game going with friends, don’t forget that you can play against the computer, as well. It’s almost as good as Solitaire… or maybe even better. 😉