Ever since I first used a Card-Boards Card Holder at a friend’s house, I’ve been hooked on the devices and want to use them in every game that uses more than three playing cards. $15 gets you four of the attractive, smooth, wooden holders from Card-Boards, located in Orem, Utah. I sprung for eight of them because the Card Holders really are that useful. It may be hyperbole to claim that the boards revolutionize card games, but now that I have used them, I don’t want to go back to spending 15-90 minutes holding a hand of cards. Imagine playing Scrabble without the tray for your letter tiles and you’ll begin to understand the true worth of Card-Boards.
While Card-Boards.com owner David Hacking originally made his card holders for family games of Ticket to Ride, they are useful and usable for almost any card game where players need to hold a private hand of cards. Hacking’s now sold over 2,000 of the boards and it’s easy to see why. Measuring 10″ by 3.75″ wide by 0.75″ tall, a Card-Board has four slots cut into it. Each card holder holds about 16 standard playing cards without the cards overlapping one another. The slots are cut to a depth of approximately 3/8ths of an inch and will obscure that much of a playing card. As for quality, I imagine the wooden boards will last a lifetime and beyond. There are other companies besides Card-Boards making this style of wooden board, of course, but I found Card-Boards’s response to my order as well as the shipping to be lightning fast. If you’re playing with unprotected cards without plastic sleeves, the Card-Boards also help to prevent the transfer of sweat, oil, and Cheeto-dust to the cards that can happen with prolonged gripping. Your cards should also remain straighter because they’ll be free of the bending tendency that accompanies holding cards in a semi-circle.
A Significant Downside and Two Minor Ones
The only real downside to the Card-Boards is obvious in that they require a flat surface to rest upon. In small cramped spaces or without a table available the Card-Boards will not be of much use. A minor downside of the card holders is that properly holding a hand of cards is an actual learned skill that is expected of most adult gamers. I may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but children do need to develop manual dexterity and hand and finger strength, besides the skill of not revealing one’s hand to other players. However as an adult, I’ll stick to a Card-Board when I can get away with it and avoid hand cramps. The only other problem the Card Board could pose is that it reveals your hand when other players get up from the table and walk around to answer the phone or get more chips and soda. In this respect, it’s also like a Scrabble tray but at the point where this becomes an issue, you’ve probably got bigger ones.
The Perfect Use for Card-Boards: Hanabi
R&R Games’ Hanabi is an addictive game of near-silent cooperation, the 2013 Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year Winner, and also the perfect way to use Card-Boards card holders. While I’ve played Hanabi a number of times, I’ve never done so by holding the cards in my hand. Instead we play using the Card-Boards. Each player’s hand of 5 cards is always perfectly visible and we have an easy time pointing out which card to discard or play. With a player’s cards tilting away from that player there is no danger of a player getting a glimpse at his own cards and the game becomes a purely mental and social exercise. The Card-Boards have the added advantage of allowing further organization based on the transmitted knowledge of what number or color cards are by using the other three rows. Now this may break the spirit of the game, but players could possibly do so already by trying to hold their cards in different places by using their ring or pinky fingers.
Excellent for the Elderly and Others with Special Needs
As good as the Card-Boards are for a fairly healthy adult, they are even better for the elderly or others who suffer from arthritis. As such, the Card-Boards would make a great gift to a grandmother or grandfather. Children (or adults) with disabilities will also benefit from the Card-Boards. Simply by using a card holder, those with moderate to severe cerebral palsy or who are quadriplegic could still play most card games and retain the same level of secrecy that most card games demand. The dealer could deal cards directly into the Card-Board with the player giving instructions as to which cards to play or remove. “Play the middle card.” or “Discard the second card from my left.” could suffice for instructions.
The Fan Style of Card Holders: Not as Useful
When compared to the fan style of card holders, where cards are clipped or slid into a holder, the Card-Boards design comes out ahead since it has multiple rows, is more durable than plastic, is stylish, and is generally less expensive. Handheld fan-style holders can be just as hard for those with disabilities to hold as managing a hand of cards conventionally. Due to this, I would recommend Card-Boards to both teachers and parents because they allow every child to participate in educational games and activities. Any concerns a student may have about standing out from his or her peers by using a card holder will vanish once their peers realize just how many advantages a Card-Board has and just how comfortably one can play by using one. Every player will want one.