Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bicycle Playing Cards: Giving You a Hand for 125 Years

I'm a card player--everything from Solitaire to Texas Hold 'Em--and I've just been reading some fascinating history on Bicycle Playing Cards, which have been around for a whopping 125 years.

For example, did you know:
  • During WWII, American prisoners of war in German camps were allowed gifts of playing cards in their care packages, so the Bicycle secretly worked with the US government making special decks that, when moistened and peeled apart, revealed sections of a map indicating precise escape routes?
  • During the Vietnam War, Bicycle again made up special decks, this time at the request of two lieutenants of Company C, Second Battalion, 35th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division (that's a mouthful!). These decks contained only the Ace of Spade, which was viewed by the Viet Cong as a card that predicted death and suffering. Some were so superstitious that, when these Aces of Spades were scattered in the jungle and hostile villages during raids, just the sight of lady liberty on the Bicycle Ace caused the Viet Cong to flee!
  • In 2003, USPC (The United States Playing Card Company, which owns Bicycle) introduced Iraq's Most Wanted Decks with images of President Saddam Hussein's government. 750,000 decks were sold in just one week.
  • And just this year, USPC have donated all the profits from their "Hope for Haiti" decks to relief efforts.
I didn't know any of these things, and as the Rhino is a bit of a military history buff, he was excited to learn them, too. Apparently, when they aren't having finals during the last week of school, they play card games, like the latest craze, Hierarchy, in the classrooms.

Encore Inc (who publishes and distributes digital home entertainment and multimedia product) and the United States Playing Card Company are bringing out a new series of interactive PC games this year, too, including Texas Hold 'Em, Family Card Games, Solitaire, Blackjack and the Totally Fun Card Games Collection, to commemorate Bicycle's 125th Anniversary.

I'm a little bummed that the games require Windows PCs to play them; here's hoping a Mac edition comes out next!

I've saved the best news for last: Bicycle Playing Cards is giving you a chance to win one of hundreds of prizes with their What's Your Game instant win game! Just click on the link to give it a try.

I received a background package full of interesting information on Bicycle Playing Cards and a couple decks of their cards to facilitate the writing of this post.

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