My father is an excellent gin rummy player. He taught me to play the game as early as he possibly could. Dad learned the game from his father, and as the story goes, they would play cards together almost every day. While my father and I didn’t play every day, we did spend many vacation hours together shuffling and counting cards. The first time I won a game was downright otherworldly. He was proud, and I was stunned, all at the same time.
The start of each game is exciting because you never know what cards you will have. Sometimes your hand is almost complete – sometimes nothing goes together. The trick is in taking a few multipurpose cards early on. Cards that can be part of a run or a set without too much shuffling of your strategy are good ones to keep. Having multiple choices as play continues is key.
Of course, as the game goes on, you commit to certain cards, and have to wait for the final few to complete your hand. Discarding becomes easier because you know what you are looking for. The game moves quickly toward the end, and you know when you and your opponent are just waiting for that one final card. Dad always knows my awaited gin card, and will gleefully throw it down as his final move. He’s a master.
I caught up with a friend the other day over lunch. Both of us hold professional degrees, and both of us are feeling lukewarm about our current careers. We started talking about the inevitable midlife changes, the slow decline of interest in our originally chosen fields, and the excitement over new directions and possibilities.
One thing my friend and I agreed upon was that as we age, it feels easier saying no to things that don’t fit into our lives. This isn’t to say that I know exactly what my life’s big picture is, but I can better identify those activities or obligations that fall far from the desired trajectory. Like a half completed gin game, making big decisions almost feels easier as I get older because my hand is mostly set. However, unlike a gin game in the final few plays, I think I want to revisit my strategy. When I look at my hand, many cards are still multipurpose, and the deck is only halfway played out …
Message of the Day: Don’t wait for your gin card when your initial strategy doesn’t feel right. If you don’t like how your hand looks, rearrange the cards. I’ve been waiting a couple turns for an Ace or a Jack to complete my short run, but it isn’t coming up. Maybe I should reconsider and collect Queens instead?