St. John Daily Sun – Mar 6, 1906 

Women who play bridge for money; Some Known to Play For High Stakes.

In view of all that has lately been said about the playing of bridge whist the following from the New York Sun will be of special interest:

It was two or three years ago that various New York clergymen took to denouncing from the pulpit woman»s suddenly developed passion to gamble at bridge whist. Sunday after Sunday women listened to denunciations of the bridge whist craze—and continues» to play bridge. They have kept on playing bridge, but the denunciatory sermons have stopped — stopped so completely that of late many persons have been curious to know if bridge whist has had its Innings, if its popularity is waning, if women have transferred their affections to some other card game like skat or five hundred, for example. Naturally the host of bridge teachers In New York laugh at such suggestions, but then one would scarcely look to them for an impartial view of the subject. More trustworthy evidence is given by fashionable New York women, who agree in saying that bridge»s grip on society is firmer than ever and that its vogue during Lent this year will far exceed anything achieved in the past.

«Undoubtedly sooner or later a reaction is bound to set in, but so far there is no sign of it,» one woman re-marked. «Bridge is an old story now, consequently it is not talked about so much as when it first was taken up by fashionable society; but it is played harder and more constantly than ever. «Every spare hour is filled with bridge, it seems to me. One can»t get away from it. There is scarcely a mail which does not bring me an invitation to play at the house of some one of my friends — of a morning, or following a luncheon, or from 3 to 5 or 6 o»clock, or after a dinner. «Instead of only the avowedly gay women, the butterflies, playing, which was the case at first, women who go in for the simple life, or say they do, home keeping women who visit their nursery and their kitchen once in a while and are inclined to frown on acquaintances who love to gamble at cards and at the race track — even they have taken to Playing bridge like mad. «Young women, who at the outset rather looked upon card playing as a matronly pastime, are taking lessons and studying bridge harder than they ever studied anything else in their lives. One of the very best bridge players in society is an unmarried woman not yet 30. «Oh, no, all the women in society do not play for money. Certainly there are always prizes of some sort, but that is not playing for money. I know of Sunday afternoon games where there were no prizes, even.

«The bridge players of society, meaning practically every woman who is not paralyzed or blind, may be divided into three classes — those willing to play for high stakes, those who play for small stakes only, those who will not play for money at all, but will play for prizes. «At first it was not generally known who was who, and time was lost in sending out invitations. Now, on the contrary, we all know pretty well how our friends stand, and the woman who balks at anything higher than a cent ante is not likely to be asked to make one of our players who like to take a flyer every now and then. Nor will a woman who only plays for prizes get an invitation to play in a game for, money stakes. It is too tiresome, you know, to have a table Spoiled by some one who scruples about even a one cent limit. «Yes, the great majority of women play for money—small stakes, though. Many tales which from time to time have gone the rounds about fashionable women behind closed doors playing for higher stakes have been products of the imagination, I fancy.» Another woman took a different view of the question of high stakes. She thought that there were many more quiet games for high stakes than society in general knew anything about. «The women who play these fames,» she went on, «can afford to risk large sums and to pay well for the excitement, for there can be no question but there is more excitement, hence more enjoyment, for women who crave excitement, in playing for a one hundred dollar than a one cent stake.

«I heard of one case in which a guest, rather new at the game but not at all averse to a good-sized stake, was asked «how twenty-five world suit her?» She smilingly assented, thinking 25 cents was meant, and it was not until some one commented on the amount of her winnings after the first had been played that she found out the stake was $25. «When a number of women get together to play the stakes are almost invariably low, and as for losses and gains, most of us come out even, some-times a little to the good or to the bad, at the end of the season. Several of my friends have come out about $300 ahead, and it is not often average players exceed that sum. «There are exceptions, though. The maid of one lucky player, who is not known to be possessed of very large means, told my maid nbso online casino reviews that her mistress made enough at bridge last winter to pay for all her gowns, and she has a pod many. «Some day bridge may pall on society. Just now we live and breathe bridge; we even go so far as to waive social barriers in order to get a nod player. Persons with little or nothing to recommend them beyond an ability to play a ripping game of bridge get an entree into houses whose doors otherwise would forever remain closed to them.

«From the first I set my face against this, only to give way weakly when one day at the last moment almost I got word that an expected guest had been taken ill and could not come. That meant, of course, that lacking a substitute three other guests must be disappointed. «I telephoned to half a dozen of my intimates in vain. To my despairing ejaculation «What shall I do?» the sixth called through the phone «Try Mrs. Blank. She is impossible, of course, socially, but she does play a tiptop game and she is not loaded down with engagements.» » «Never,» I screamed back and hung up the receiver. A minute later I called up Mrs. Blank, invited her in my blandest tone to play bridge at three o»clock, listened to her delighted acceptance, and then sat down and cried with rage, «Yes, she played well enough to carry off most of the stakes at her table, and I caught myself wishing I had her for a partner instead of the novice who fell to my lot. But, of course, there are limits to that sort of thing.» «I do not play for money and I find that I am cut off from playing with the women I know best,» somewhat dolefully remarked a young matron who says she has spent a small fortune on bridge lessons. «I do not think many women now play for high stakes—they play too often for that—but I do find that most women want some sort of stakes.

«The surest way to be unpopular with smart society is to balk at playing for money. The word gambling is never associated with bridge. Tell any woman who plays a five cent limit that she gambles and she is furious. «I cannot begin to tell how many bridge clubs will meet during Lent and how many extra classes have been formed to meet in the evening. There are two very smart clubs of fifty members each which have met afternoons once a week during the winter and which mean to keep right on through Lent, besides at least ten smaller clubs of which I happen to know.» «How do the nerves of the average woman stand the strain of so much bridge,» was asked of a frail looking woman who is among the most enthusiastic bridge players. «On the whole very well,» said she. «I can»t say that playing bridge in all of one»s spare hours is especially restful to the nerves, neither do I agree with the doleful people who predict an era of nervous prostration as the out-come of the wave of bridge popularity. When a teacher of bridge of the socially elect was asked if there were not indications that the popularity of bridge was on the wane among the very fashionable he echoed with a rising inflection: «On the wane ?» «It is so much on the wane.» laughed his wife, who also teaches bridge, «that we cannot begin to fill the demands on us for lessons. «The desire to play bridge is sweeping this country and other countries. Here is a letter from Poland, in which the writer requests permission to translate my husband»s book on bridge whist into Polish.

«In order to meet the demand for lessons in this country we are conducting lessons by correspondence. Already we have sent out 1,300 of the series of lessons.» «What may happen in the future no one can predict,» resumed the teacher in chief as his wife paused, «but this much is certain, that the upper circles of New York society just now scarcely do anything without bridge. The game follows dinners, it comes after luncheons, it fills in the afternoons. «Where people used to sit around bored after dinner, they now get out the bridge tables; and young girls as well as their mothers enjoy the game.» «Is it, true that, as a club man remarked not long ago, there are not half a dozen women in New York who play a really fine game of bridge?» «Nonsense,» was the emphatic reply. «I could name dozens of really fine Players among the society women I have taught. The average woman, in fact, plays a better game than the average man, for the reason that she practices a good deal more because she has more time to play. «American women are the best card players in the world — among women, I mean. Their fine playing of bridge has been commented on in England and on the continent.» «Do not New York women play for higher stakes than formerly?» «Not to my knowledge. From what  I see and hear the five cent limit is the most popular among women.» «Of course,» commented the expert»s wife, «considerable money may be lost and won even with a five cent limit.»