Every Saturday I’m Shuffling – Card Nights

Around fourth year High School was the time that we (Hammo, Bucko, Dunny, Neil and myself) started our regular Saturday night card games. Along with other colourful, but not regularly in attendance, Elizabeth High characters such as Boris and Jim, the nights were spent attempting to relieve each other of our assorted cupro-nickel collections. A win or loss of $2 a night either way was the extent of our individual gloom or gloating.

I can’t remember all of the games we played, but In Betweens, Blind Man’s Bluff, Pontoon and several variations on Poker were rotated throughout the night, which started at 8-ish and ended early enough for us to walk home safely. We took it in turns to host these evenings, with parents given the task of providing us with late night sustenance, which involved pastry, meat, tomato sauce and butchers’ sweepings extruded into thick bright orange casings.

Occasionally we’d try to stay up all night, but not very often.

I think that the rigours of Matric slowed us down somewhat, but it was enormous fun while it lasted.

When I hit the big time as a Graduate Project Officer at the Highways Department, card nights flourished once more. This time it was on a Friday night, and something stronger than Woodies Sno-Top was usually at hand as the shrewd bean-counters of Walkerville 5081, became the Cool Hand Lukes of whichever northeastern Adelaide suburb we were in that night.

The cast had names like Bob, Eric, Rob, Gaz, John, George, Brenton, Glen and Boardsy. The stakes were higher, the games less childish, the tempers more rampant and the magazines in the wardrobes of the single blokes a bit bluer than in my innocent High School days.

We played probably once a month and I think it went on for a couple of years or more. After I left Highways for the loftier climes of the Public Service Board’s Management Accountants Development (that’s right MAD) Scheme and then ETSA, my attendance was less frequent.

The signs that many of us had drifted apart further than we had realised came into stark relief, when, being the host for one of these gatherings, my choice of The Smiths as background music was met with abject derision from my Crowded House loving colleagues. We had moved on, and a night at home with a video and pizza with our chosen life partners replaced a night of farts, burps, pickled onions, kabana, blue jokes and arguments about money (hmm…)

One of the netball dads invited me to one or two of his card nights twenty or so years (and a move to Melbourne) later, but I no longer felt comfortable enough to take up the generous offers.

Card nights – The Ace of Spades or Living In The Past?

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Peter Flynn says

    I recently attended a conference where after a few beers, Indian was played.



  2. Yvette Wroby says

    We used to play 500 during matric. Now I am a rummy tile gamer with mum and words with friends with whoever is silly enough to play with me. Playing games make conversation easier. Great way just to be. Your article bought back memories swish

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Love card nights Swish. On Australia Day hosted a Manilla night and had a bbq with some close mates. Ripper night/morning. Everyone says: “We should do it more often!” But alas, finding players is easy, finding willing hosts…not so.

  4. Excellent topic Swish. On many Christmas evenings my cousins, some friends and I would gather in a shed and play cards ’til late. We played different games like poker, but enjoyed the cutthroat, high stakes nature of In Betweens. It is a game that provokes lots of banter and needs lots of lubricant. Many sheepish chaps on Boxing Day.

  5. Great topic Swish
    In my memories it was Sunday nights at Jock’s…his Mum, the late and truly great Eil, was a World Class caterer, and it was either missable lectures or GD trots the next morning. This must have preceded the Bay Disco Sunday night phenomenon. I’m a pathetic and defensive gambler so usually won a smidge. Loved the beer and banter…still recall players’ habits (pre-TV). Mole was a regular. awful punter. Pretty good bloke. We’d usually play pontoon. I used to cringe – every new card would instigate a forensic reassessment of Mole’s cards and total. I often wondered if he was deciding on strategy or calculating 9+4!! He’d then try his default bluff of betting the max.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    I’m with your mates in choosing Crowded House over The Smiths. But I’m probably the world’s worst card player so what would I know…

  7. The People's Elbow says

    A rough estimate has the number of Business Law lectures I missed as a result of playing 500 in the Uni Cafe at eight.

    For cards, I reckon neither The Smiths nor Crowded House quite cut it. I’d be going with a little Townes Van Zandt, a bit of Merle Haggard, some Faron Young and some Tom T. Hall.

  8. Matt Watson says

    I don’t get into the cards with my mates.
    We play pool in the ASB (my garage) and drink home brew and eat weber roasts.
    I make sure my mates and I get together twice a month, sometimes more. Thankfully my partner understands it is important for me to spend time with my mates.
    She tolerates the hangovers and a house full of mates.
    She is great. If she didn’t tolerate it, we wouldn’t be together…

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Swish I was only a average cards player but yep plenty of memories come flooding back from a long time ago !

  10. Thanks Swish. My first cards day was at my mate Wharfy’s in about year 9. I had no money so I stuck my hand down the back of the sofa and found about $2.40 in loose change. Came home with about $5 and so was the first of many great card days/nights – which were usually held at said Wharfy”s house. Some really great memories. The last one I attended was probably about 8 years ago one holiday trip back to the Bool (again at Wharfy’s). Old mates back together again (my better half across the room in a marathon of CSI viewing) – it was a great night and like we were still 18. I’d be up for more of that.

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks everyone.

    Thought that I might have tapped into something.

    I’m guessing that the enjoyment that we’ve discovered would be lost on the younger generation.

    Perhaps I should build an app for them, but I’m not sure how I’d recreate all five senses, let alone the communal conversation and laughter.

  12. 7 card stud, 2s 7s and one-eyed jacks wild.

    Baseball 7 card stud, 3s and 9s wild, 3s double the pot

    pontoon: “double you, double you back, double you back, double you back etc” bin 14 etc

    high-low poker

    guts – best two card hand

    Rickety Kate

    500 – call your aces? “Why didn’t you lead a rag spade you dickhead?”


    many, many hours at Uni, at the cricket club, and on golf trips.

    No regrets whatsoever

  13. Dennis Gedling says

    Always remember playing Guts. My brother once lost his rent money on one hand of that game. Always good to play at the end of the night. Quickfire and devastating if you lose.

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