Monday, June 6, 2011

All you need is a button and a deck of cards!

Growing up in a small community in outport Newfoundland, often times you make your own fun, without a lot of equipment. Here are three of my favorite games requiring only a button and a deck of cards.

Button Button
Button button is a children's game often played at birthday parties. One person is the "button holder" while the rest of the group forms a circle around them. Holding the button between the palms of the hands, the button-holder draws their hand down between the unclasped hands of the other players, while pretending to drop the button in each pair of hands. (Sometimes the same pair of hands would get visited more than once.) The button would be left in one pair of hands, but the button holder would continue until they were certain to have deceived the players. The button holder would then return to the center and say "Button Button, whose got the button?" then select someone to guess who had the button. The idea is for the button holder to fool everyone into picking the wrong person. The person holding the button would try to pretend that they didn't have the button, and if successful would have a turn in the center of the ring. If someone guessed correctly, they would then take the centre-ring position.
* If playing this at a birthday party, there were often prizes if no one guessed who had the button.

Red Rover
In this children's game, two teams face each other with a distance of 10 or more feet between them. The members of the team selected to be "up" joins hands to create a barrier. One member of the opposing team is then challenged to try and break through the human barrier by running fast and hard enough to cause a break in clasped hands. The challenge was issued in the following manner: "red rover, red rover, send ____ right over." The called person would then take a zig-zagging run at the line trying not to reveal the intended contact point. If successful in breaking the line they return to their team bringing one of the opposing players with them. If not, they become a member of the opposing team. The game went on until all the members of one team were "captured" by the other.

The name "growl" is often used to refer to a card game known as Auction 120s, or 120s. This is a team game that is mostly played in a boisterous manner(sometimes shouting or swearing and most often slamming fists, depending on the pot and who you play with.)
The object of each team was t0 get 120 points before the other. Each player is dealt 5 cards and each trick they win gets them 5 points. The persons with the highest card in each deal got 10 points for the trick, making it a total of 30 points per round. The best card won each round and the best cards were trumps. Trumps being the suit of card chosen by the winning bidder. Players can bid between 15 and 30, if the highest bidder got the number of points they bid or more, they kept the points, if they didn't they lost the amount of their bid. If a player felt that with the help of their partner they had enough cards to take all the tricks they would bid 30 for 60. If their team won all the tricks they were awarded 60 points and if not they only lost 30 points. This often meant the team would "go in the hole" or have less than zero points. If this happened when the other team was within a hand of winning the game got more interesting, as the losing team would make impossible bets to keep the other team from winning. The bid "slam for the game" was often invoked as this point. In a "slam for the game" bid, all five tricks had to be won, and if the bidding team did it, they won the game, if not they went another 60 points in the hole. This caused many a growl between the losing partners. So the game got its name honestly.
* Growl is most often an adult's card game, but both my grandparents loved to play and taught my and one of my sister to play when were were still young. I remember playing this nearly ever night with Nan and Pop.


  1. We used to play red rover in public school.

  2. All new to me, thanks for sharing!

  3. Never played Growl, but I so remember those other games. Especially Red Rover.

  4. I'd always wondered what Rev Rover was all about. Thanks for enlightening me here!

  5. Growl is new to me, although I remember the other two from my childhood.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

  6. Two of the three I've not heard of, but we played Red Rover as a kid.

  7. Button Button sounds a brilliant game!

  8. I never heard of Growl, sounds like a great game. The shouting and slamming fists made me laugh! I had forgotten all about Red Rover, I remember playing that all the time on the playground.
    Great picks!

  9. Ahhh, button-button and red rover sure bring back memories! :) Never heard of Growl, but I love a good card game! Congrats on your exams, too!! Best of luck with your business venture.

  10. OH OH OH! I am so excited! I used to play Button Button with my grandmother and I have never met anyone else who ever played it!

  11. I was the last kid you wanted on your team for Red Rover!

  12. I never played any of these games! Man, did I miss out. :P

  13. I loved Red Rover! I haven't heard of the other two. This is so much fun!

  14. Oh, wow. Red Rover. THAT sends me back a few years.

    Fun list! Loved it!

  15. Growl sounds seious. LOL. The others are some of my kids favorites... FUN.

  16. Button-button was a favorite Sunday school game, and Red Rover favored the faster runners, so I always got tagged. Great memories.

  17. It's funny how long kids can play "Button Button" and it's so simple - as you say.

  18. I haven't heard of these games--they sound like fun. :D

  19. I've not come across these three before!

  20. Never heard of Growl, but used to play the other two in school in the early grades.

    Tossing It Out

  21. Button sounds fun. Will have to play it with my kids. =)

    Thanks for sharing!

  22. I used to play Red Rover all the time in grade school!

  23. I like boisterous games. Red Rover was very popular in my neighborhood. :D

  24. Ah, yes... I remember the first two!

  25. I remember button button well! Red Rover, too....but not the last one.

  26. I've already discovered so many new (old) games in this blogfest, I'll never have enough time to play them all. :-)

    3 new ones here ...

  27. I never did well at button, button. when I got the button, i couldn't contain my smile!
    Re: hashtags on Twitter. I'm now following you as well, I think by seeing it you'll get it, also suggested a "master" hashtagger for you to follow:)

  28. i would totally play button button. That sounds right up my alley

  29. Wow! These games sound so original, very cool. The only one I've played is Red Rover. A long time ago.

  30. Hi,

    I'm not familiar with these games but they sound like great fun. ;)


  31. Lovely to see you again! Red Rover is the game of yours that I know. Amazing how many games in the world!


  32. Wow, I've never heard of these but they sound like fun!

  33. Oh wow...I very well know the first two games...I have played that so much when I was a kid... :)

    Well, even now, during seminars, we try those it's not just for kids...:P

    Thanks so much for the visit! Enjoy the game fest of Alex!

  34. @ mybabyjohn - red rover is great!

    @ claudia - any time

    @ donna - growl is great fin

    @ jeffrey - have you never played?

    @ alex - think I made it to visit everyone in the blogfest this go around! when we doing it again

    @ pat - red rover was popular, I guess due to lack of equipment?

    @ ellie - button button could keep kids entertained for hours

    @ julie - any card game with shouting and slamming fists is super fun

    @ donna - thanks! I am so proud of myself

    @ betty - I'll play it with you

    @ l. diane - sure you would be great

    @ nutschell - you're never too old to start playing now

    @ ciara - this is great fun indeed

    @ bryce - I won't ask how many years (but its over 15 for me)

    @ rashelle - very serious indeed (especially when waigers are involved)

    @ susan - when we played we favored the stronger players to thicken up the wall

    @ robyn - I'd like to play button button now, bet it would still take hours

    @ golden eagle - they are great fun

    @ laura - I've learned so many new games today, I can't wait to get playing

    @ arlee - up until jr high we played red rover

    @ cherie- its simple, they'll love it

    @ nicole - brings back memories hey?

    @ m pax - boisterous = fun

    @ ms a - great fun eh?

    @ marlene - not many people know growl, but it is fun

    @ kc - I'm finding the same thing, want to revisit my youth

    @ li - I would laugh a lot too, but I bet it would kick arse now

    @ sarah - you should give it a try

    @ matthew - red rover feels like forever ago!

    @ francine - wonderful fun

    @ l'aussie - what is even more amazing if the # of games that are basically the same, just a few minor changes

    @ charmaine - my daughter loves it too

    @ clarissa - they are fun, you should try them sometime

  35. I remember Red Rover from when I was a kid. And I'm your 300th follower - yay!

  36. I'd never heard of Growl, but it sounds like fun. I remember the other two, especially liked Red Rover!

    Congrats on 300 Followers! I'm going to push you over...

  37. Aw! I remember Red Rover. :)

  38. I fondly remember playing Red Rover at recess at grade school.
    And I think I'll introduce the button game to my kids! So simple and fun!
    Kelly Polark

  39. Great kids games that I've never come across! So glad I joined this blog fest - great group of people. Thanks for stopping by my kangaroo blog. Tried to follow you but the system wouldn't let me - very strange.

  40. Hey it worked second time around and looking at the numbers I think there were several of us trying to follow at once - you're a popular girl baygirl!

  41. Button button sounds a hoot, and so simple! I still think the simple games are the best.

  42. I tried commenting the other day but I was having problems so Idk if it went through.

    I've never played Red Rover. It sounds dangerous and that there would be some broken wrists and fingers.

    I'm going to play button button at my next Bday.

  43. Button Button! Wow did that bring back memories of playing w/ cousins. Okay, so we played it on stairs and called it "Button Button Where's the Button" but same basic idea of deception. How fun. :)

  44. I love kids games... who says that we have to stop playing them as we get older?