streetside card game

Ji Nan Road, Shanghai, June 2013

The man whose cards we’re looking at, he had this habit of slapping down his cards with a loud, dramatic thwack.

They’re leisurely playing an impromptu game of Big 2 here, a game that I feel I can quite safely say almost every Chinese person knows. I’ve had friends liken it to poker since variations of hands can be played. I don’t know if that’s true, since I don’t know how to play poker.

You may not be able to see it, but there are two packs of cigarettes, crumpled bills of RMB 1, 5 and 10 notes (roughly equivalent to USD 16 cents, 82 cents and 1.6 dollars) on the ground.

I walked past them near my apartment on my way back and forth from an errand. Both times I acted super local and hovered over them with a handful of other idle passersby, watching the game. I kind of wanted to join, but was a little intimidated by their thwacking, camaraderie and implicit understanding of the monetary stakes. Next time!

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