New card game is a hit with seniors

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Kendra Baker photos
The Wilton Senior Center has a new card game, Five Crowns, and it’s quite a hit.
On Tuesday, Aug. 18, six senior ladies gathered around a table for a Five Crowns session — the second one held at the senior center.
“It’s fun — easy and fun,” said instructor Nerina Klobas, who introduced the game to the senior center.
“It’s a lot like rummy, but with different cards and wild cards,” said Wiltonian Rita Caruso, who has played Five Crowns for two years.
Aside from Caruso and Klobas, two seniors at the table were learning the game for the first time, while others — like Sonja Drummond, who Caruso said “picked it up quickly” — had just recently learned how to play.

Unusual deck of cards

The progressive rummy-style game is played by two to seven people and uses cards with spades, clubs, hearts, diamonds and stars. Each deck contains five suits and wild cards.
“What you’re trying to do is make [at least] three of a kind,” said Klobas. “There is no ace and no 2 — it begins with 3 and ends with king.”
A game of Five Crowns consists of 11 hands. The number of cards dealt progressively increases in each round and the number of cards dealt also indicates the second wild card for that round.
For example, three cards are dealt in the first hand and all three cards are considered wild in addition to jokers.
“You can make wild cards anything you want,” said Klobas. In other words, wild cards can be used to supplement any missing cards needed for a:

  • Run: Three or more cards of the same suit in a row.

  • Book: Three or more cards of the same designation like all 3s or all kings, regardless of the suit.

Five Crowns comes with two decks of 58 cards. The Wilton Senior Center uses both decks — 116 cards — in one game, making 12 wild cards available in each round.
Once the cards are dealt, the dealer places the remaining cards on the table and flips over a card from the deck, creating a discard pile.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first and either draws a card from the pile or takes the top card from the discard pile. The player must then discard a card before the next player’s turn.


With Klobas’ assistance, Wiltonians Winkie Chesley and Roberta Frank sat in on the latest Five Crowns session to learn how to play. While the game play was rather easy to pick up, Chesley said, the scoring was a bit more confusing.
The objective of each round is to create a hand of runs or books, with one card left over to discard.
Once a person wins a hand, the rest of the players are given a chance to make the best hands they can before laying down their books and runs.
Whatever cards remain in a player’s hand are tallied up for points, which are scored according to the face value of the cards — beginning at 13 points for a king, down to three points for a 3.
“King is 13 points, queen is 12, jack is 11, and the rest is what you see on the cards,” said Klobas.
Wild cards — jokers and numbered cards designated as wild for that round — are 20 points each.
During a round of game play, Klobas said, “usually, people keep the cards with smaller points, but in some cases, you have to keep the larger cards [for a run or book] to win.”
If someone wins the round before a player is able to make a full run or book out of their higher value cards, those big cards get tallied up against the player.
“Sometimes, it just happens that you get a lot of points,” said Klobas. “One time, I got 87 points in one round.”
The player with the lowest score at the end of the 11th round is the winner, and at the Wilton Senior Center, that means taking home a little bit of cash.
“You can’t lose a lot of money,” said Klobas. “You could play any way you want, but the way we play, the most you can lose is $2.65.”
The Wilton Senior Center, 180 School Road, offers Five Crowns on the first and third Tuesday of the month and encourages seniors to join in on the fun, easy-to-learn card game.
To learn more, call the Wilton Senior Center at 203-834-6240.