Community spirit springs from cards

By Melodie Cardin

Move aside, poker, bridge and rummy. All the cool kids are playing euchre.

This card game is gaining popularity in many areas of downtown Ottawa, including singles bars, gay bars, the Royal Canadian Legion, seniors’ centres and in universities.

Billie Graham, who works at the Village Inn Pub on Bank Street, will be starting up euchre nights in the new year. Graham says before he worked at the pub, there were well-attended euchre nights, with four or five tables playing. “They were good to meet with your friends and have a friendly card game.”

Euchre nights faded but the game seems to be making a comeback, says Graham.

Lesley Flansberry made friends playing euchre when she was a student at Carleton University. “You sort of get your feet wet in college,” said Flansberry. “It was hard when I first started working because people don’t play euchre.”

In order to find people to play with, Flansberry went to singles restaurants. She said with a minimum of 24 people at the tables on a Thursday night, it was fantastic. “Euchre is sort of a poor man’s bridge,” Flansberry explains. “It’s a strategy card game and it’s a lot of fun.”

She is a member of a group called “the Do-Gooders.” This group and the Ottawa Firefighters Association were so inspired by their love of the game that they organized a euchre tournament last month to benefit the Help Santa Toy Parade.

Flansberry is happy to be able to host the tournament for charity, but her real motivation in starting this event was simple. “I just wanted to play euchre.”

Euchre is played in partners and a progressive euchre tournament means that the partners rotate. Flansberry says this method is ideal because players meet more people.

Graham says euchre games can get dramatic. “I play for fun but some people hate losing. It can get nasty, people getting pissed off when they play a wrong move,” Graham says.

But enthusiasm for euchre can also be positive, says Patrick Ouellet, who works at Lookout, a bar that hosts euchre tournaments on Sunday afternoons. They get a regular crowd that ranges from 15 to 25 people.

“It’s very social. There’s a sense of community even though it’s competitive. It’s great to see the excitement when people are close to winning, or when they played a really good hand,” says Ouellet.