Vitauts Take 9: Solitaire

Vitauts Take 9: Solitaire

Vitauts has always been a card player. When I was growing up, I could count on one inevitable thing: at each and every family gathering, a card game would break out, and dad would be involved.

But the image I have of him that is even more prominent than the many basement tables with poker chips and solo scores, is him sitting at the kitchen table, pipe in his mouth, slapping down 52 Bicycle cards and keeping score of his wins and losses at solitaire.

Dad playing solitaire at my house.
Dad playing solitaire at my house.

Now, solitaire is the one pastime that he can still perform with expertise as if nothing has changed. I watch him playing, and he has the same confident look on his face as he always did. He no longer smokes a pipe while he turns the cards, but he still keeps score. The method has evolved, and it actually caused a controversy among all of my siblings.

Every time someone visits the house and watches him play, they come to me urgently and say, “Dad isn’t playing solitaire the right way!” My siblings thought that he had forgotten how to play because they all saw the same memory I did; 1970s and 80s Vitauts at the white kitchen table in Yutan slapping down three cards at a time. However, his game evolved when he moved to Lincoln. I knew this because I spent a lot of time down there, but apparently none of the others had paid close attention.

Now, dad only plays one card at a time, but he can only go through the deck one time. He used to play three at a time, going through the deck until he couldn’t play any more cards. When I asked him why he switched methods many years ago, he explained that this was the “real” way to play and how they did it in Vegas. Apparently, at some stage in his life, he had played solitaire at a casino, but I still haven’t been able to confirm this. He said you paid some amount, maybe $52 to play and then you got $5 or something for every card you laid on an ace. If you won, you could make $200, but you would  usually lose.

Now dad kept score of how much money he won or lost in every game. He has probably played a million games of solitaire in his life, and just about every single game has ended up as a tick mark or number on a little white slip of paper. It’s pretty incredible to think about that. At twenty games a day for fifty years, that’s about 300,000 games. Wow.

 

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