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Everything You Need to Start Playing Bridge (Minus Friends)

Lucky for Lucy, no poker face required. Photo: Courtesy of CBS

I think I finally understand why old people love bridge. It takes forever to learn — like forever — so depending on when you start your bridge-playing journey, you’ll still be perfecting your game up until the very end. This is what I learned when a few friends and I got together and started a bridge group dedicated to learning the game as long as it took us. And it might take forever at the rate we’re going, but there is something about the complicated trick-taking card game that sucks you in, no matter the difficulty.

Whenever I’m bad at something and would like to get better, I immediately look to the internet in an attempt to find ways to expedite that process. Is there a book I can read? An app I can download? Some cube that reminds me what trump is? (That’s for another way-less-difficult card game called euchre, and thanks to a pal, I already have one.) I’ve found that while there’s nothing that’ll make you better at bridge other than regular games with your bridge pals, there are a few things that can help you along the way. Here’s a starter kit.

Four-sided table

Cosco Products 34” Square Resin Top Folding Table, Black

You will obviously need a table, but any folding, four-sided one with just enough room for one person on each side (it’s too easy to peek with a round table) will work. The folding bit is crucial — you’ll want to store it away once you’re done.

Cards and card accessories

Copag Bridge Size Regular Index 1546 Playing Cards

The No. 1 thing you’ll need is a good pack of playing cards. While any set will technically do (yes, even the novelty cards you got at your cousin’s bat mitzvah), there definitely are brands of playing cards that are just more comfortable to play with. Luckily, they’re cheap. I like the look of Copag, but you can go with a standard bridge-size deck of Bicycles, too.

Brybelly Triangle Shaped Hands-Free Playing Card Holder

In bridge, you have to hold a lot of cards in your hand at once. That can be annoying, especially if you’re prone to “losing” a card or two, or getting them stuck behind each other. Here are nifty cardholders that can help you keep thinkings organized, and also reduce stress on your paws. (They’re also great for little kids.)

Bidding and score-keeping accessories

Baron Barclay Bidding Mats, Set of 4 Placemats

My bridge friends and I swear by our personal “cheat sheets” when playing. These are all allowed, by the way, and unless you have an incredible memory, you’ll want access to your own.

Bridge Score Card — 5-Pack Contract Bridge Score Notepads

And when you get to the point that you actually want to keep score, (ooh, you’re good, aren’t you?), there’s a pad that claims it can help you do that. I wouldn’t know anything about it because I’m still working on perfecting my bidding. I’ll get there.

Bid Buddy Set of Four Bridge Bidding Boxes by Jannersten

Speaking of bidding, these are boxes that the “pros” use to help keep track of the bid as it goes around the table. You’ll never have to ask to review the bid again.

Bridge guidebooks

Bridge Basics 1: An Introduction (the Official Better Bridge Series) by Audrey Grant

If you’re just learning the game, almost everyone I’ve asked recommends Audrey Grant’s Bridge Basics as a place to start. But here’s a tip from me: Ignore everything involving scoring until you’re at least 50 games or so in. It’s too confusing when you’re just learning the mechanics.

Bridge at a Glance by Audrey Grant

And if you’re slightly more advanced, Grant’s Bridge at a Glance is a great resource book to keep by your side.

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Everything You Need to Start Playing Bridge (Minus Friends)