Org of the Week: Card Sharks ‘ace’ student comradery

Members of Card Sharks meet on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Retreat to play their favorite card games and learn new ones. All students are welcome and encouraged to attend! / Courtesy of Michael Oosterhout

Have you ever wanted to learn something new but been too stressed to add another class? Do you just want to relax and have fun on a Saturday afternoon? Maybe you’re just sick of playing the same four card games over and over again?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, stop by the tables at the Retreat on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and join the members of Card Sharks to learn and play the Game of the Week.

If you sit at the table, you’ll observe Michael Oosterhout ’18, Baian Liu ’18, Clara Berard ’18 and David Deng ’18 teach an eager group of students a new card game, which changes every week.

As stated by these co-presidents via an email interview, “We co-founded the Vassar Card Sharks in Spring 2015 in order to provide an org at Vassar specifically devoted to playing card games, which is something a large portion of the student body enjoys.”

The organization offers Vassar students a chance to relax and learn something new, two concepts that don’t often seem to go together in college. It also provides an avenue for students to meet new people, something that becomes increasingly difficult as the semester continues.

The card game could be Hearts, Speed, Palace, Capitalism, Landlord and Scotch Bridge, which make up some of the co-presidents’ favorite games, or it could be something completely new.

Card Sharks was founded after Oosterhout, Liu, Berard and Deng spent their first year of college learning and playing different card games.

When their first year was up, the now co-presidents realized that their weekly activity could be fun for the rest of the Vassar community as well. They founded Card Sharks in 2015 to help fellow students connect with each other.

This community-building aspect of the organization was part of the reason that led Jamie Greer ’20 to join Card Sharks during her first year at Vassar.

Greer, who played card games daily with friends in high school, stated in email interview, “The presidents are really cool and very patient when teaching games, and it’s great being able to meet new people who all love card games.”

She impressed that the Saturday meetings are an effective form of stress relief and that the organization itself is very warm and welcoming, adding, “[I] love being able to bring friends to meetings, whether they’re fellow Vassar students or friends visiting from other schools.”

The warm and kind atmosphere is also felt by Madison Stiefel ’20, who, like Greer, signed up for Card Sharks during the activities fair at the beginning of her first year.

Over an email interview Stiefel wrote about enjoying her time in Card Sharks, explaining,“The people are really nice and really welcoming. I also get to learn how to play new card games all the time.”

While Stiefel and Greer have been going to the weekly Card Sharks meeting since they started at Vassar, it’s easy to join at any point in the semester, and attendance is certainly not mandatory or enforced. As explained by the presidents of the organization, “One simply shows up on a Saturday and comes ready to play cards!”

While it was originally founded to teach new card games to members, the Card Sharks co-presidents are also open to learning new games themselves, stating, “[We] also love learning new games, so bring your favorites to share!”

In the past, members have brought Pit, described as a fast-paced game of commodity trading, as well as the more classic card games of Euchre, Cribbage, Canasta and Bridge to Card Sharks.

Greer elaborated, “You can email or message them on Facebook with game suggestions and they will play them! You can even teach card games you know to the group.”

If you cannot make it to one of their weekly meetings, Cark Sharks also hosts some larger events each semester, including at least one poker night.

Poker nights are about having fun and, while they don’t play for money, you can always win bragging rights. These nights are held in the Retreat as well and, according to the presidents of the organization, serve as another way to get to know people on campus, eat snacks and play cards together.

In the past, the organization has also co-hosted card game nights with Big Bight In and the Noyes house team, further increasing the odds of making new friends from various parts of campus.

As stated by its founders, Card Sharks is not just a place to learn new games, nor is it simply a place to teach them. On Saturdays at 4:30 pm., a table in the Retreat becomes a community. It becomes a place for stressed-out students to relax, laugh, have a good time and make new friends.


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