They gather on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Lutz Senior Center with a well-worn deck of cards and plenty of banter.
It’s a small but lively group.
Rose Dyll, 75, has been sitting in on Double-Deck Pinochle games for the better part of a decade.
“It is fun. We are friendly. We don’t play for money,” the Carrollwood woman said with a laugh.
“We play for ego,” dead-panned Elton Shahin, an 84-year-old player from Lutz.
“It stimulates your brain. It’s so good for you,” agreed Paul Ganci, also an 84-year-old from Lutz, who clearly enjoys a deft play.
“It keeps your mind sharp. You really have to pay attention. You’ve got to listen to the bids,” added Ganci, who began playing pinochle at 18 and has been part of the club for three years.
On a recent Thursday, just three members turned out — so they had to play three-handed Double-Deck Pinochle.
“Three-handed is very messy,” Ganci said.
It’s not exactly Dyll’s favorite way to play either. She hates holding so many cards in her hands.
They only play the three-handed game when not enough players turn out.
That happens more often than it used to.
“When I first started here, sometimes we’d get about 12 people,” Dyll said. But the turnout declined as members died or moved.
The club would love to rebuild the group. It’s entertaining and doesn’t cost a thing, they said.
“If you haven’t played pinochle in awhile, it’s no problem,” Ganci said. “It’s like riding a bicycle. We’ll get you back into it.”
However, you do need some experience to join the group because they are sticklers for the rules.
“We play hard pinochle,” Dyll said.
And, just because they’re friendly doesn’t mean they’re not competitive.
Dyll, in particular, enjoys trash-talking.
During one hand, she eyed Ganci’s cards, which were spread on the table and declared: “He’s got crap. He’s got a lot of losers.”
“He’s in trouble,” Shahin agreed.
Somehow, though, Ganci pulled the hand off.
“I got it,” he said, beaming. “A good pinochle player counts trump.”
In another hand, when Ganci made a clever play, Dyll declared: “Ooh, sneaky, you.”
“Sneaky me,” Ganci said, clearly pleased.
When Dyll has good cards, they literally fly out of her hands as she snatches cards off the table and tosses another one in, in a split-second move showing confidence and command.
On one occasion, she catches Ganci off guard: “Oh, that was a surprise,” he said.
These players know the glory of victory and agony of defeat.
Once Ganci forgot one of the cardinal rules of the game and suffered a demoralizing defeat.
“We thought it was funny,” Dyll said.
“It was devastating,” Ganci said.
In another hand, Dyll and Ganci got into a bidding war — both desperately wanting a pile of cards they thought would give them a most excellent hand.
Dyll won the bid.
She was jubilant.
She beamed as she spread her cards proving that she got what she wanted.
Ganci slumped his shoulders and let out a heavy sigh.
But the table turned later on, when Ganci got a hand that he simply couldn’t believe.
“You never get dealt this. I can’t believe this,” he exclaimed, sounding like a child who had won first prize at the fair.
A little bit later, another player joined the game.
When 71-yer-old Robert Potts of Land O’ Lakes showed up, they were able to switch from the three-handed game to two teams, with partners.
It didn’t take them long to shift gears and begin attacking each other.
“Eliminate the enemy,” Shahin declared, again revealing his wry sense of humor.
Time passes quickly. The players shuffle, deal and play out their hands.
They are clearly enjoying the game and each other.
“We have such a great time,” Potts said.
No matter the outcome, it seems that they do.
If you play pinochle and have some free time, you are welcome to join the Double-Deck Pinochle Club at Lutz Senior Center, 112 First Ave., N.W. in Lutz.
The games are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.