Pinochle club helps brighten winter days in Kasilof

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS OCT. 26-27 - In this Oct. 19, 2013 photo Debbie Love, left, confesses her bluffing strategy to pinochle opponent Steve Macik during the second weekend tournament of the season hosted by the Kasilof Pinochle Club in Kasilof, Alaska. (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Greg Skinner) MAGS OUT

KASILOF — Tracy Perkins had a great first day learning to take tricks, meld cards and make bids for points. The pinochle rookie won two out of three of his first games.

“I don’t know how poorly you can do with the president and star player sitting next to you saying what to take and what to do,” joked pinochle player Laura Harman, who sat on the opposing team watching a master teach the rookie.

Perkins, a Kasilof resident, took a lesson Saturday afternoon from Kasilof Pinochle Club President Jay Vinup during the first series of games played in a back room at the Kasilof Eagles on North Cohoe Loop. Perkins’ and partner Bud Byington’s luck ended just after Vinup left to get his own game going at another table.

It’s tough for beginners to learn how to read their cards and bid a hand, Vinup said.

“We teach lessons if you want to come and learn,” Jean Taylor, secretary of the Kasilof Pinochle Club.

The club has been playing for years from varied locations around Kasilof, such as the Tustumena Lodge, the Roadhouse and the J Bar B Club. Tournament play started on Oct. 12 and will go weekly through April 26. The club has seen membership bounce between 16 and 20 players each week for the last few years. The club plays six games in two rounds of three.

For Taylor the club, and her pinochle play in general, is a social structure for winter on the Peninsula as the amount of daylight shrinks down to 5 hours and 42 minutes. By the end of the season the sun will return for more than 12 hours each day.

“Winters get really long and it’s good to look forward to something every week,” Taylor said.

Vinup has a different take on the club, which he says is a commitment from October to April. The players who come all winter long “really, really like to play,” he said. For Vinup the game is not so much about the socializing, as it is the competition.

“We have one team that comes all the way from Nikiski,” he said.

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