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Card Sharks: Inside the Blackhawks' favorite card game

by Kelsey Peters / Chicago Blackhawks

Over the course of the 2011-12 hockey season, the Blackhawks will log almost 150 hours in the air. So what will the players do to pass the time? Play cards, of course. But there’s one game that appears to be hockey’s own inside secret: Snarples.

“I started playing in juniors,” said Bryan Bickell. “Not my first year, because rookies sit at the front of the bus and just look straight ahead. But for the next four years over juniors and the minors, that’s where I learned it. It’s the hockey game. I think there are many different names for it, but hockey players call it Snarples. I don’t know where we got it from, but it stuck and everybody knows it.

According to Bickell’s road roommate, John Scott, he and Bickell are the best Snarples players on the squad.

“Last year it was me, Bicks, Stalberg, Tazer, Sharpy, Seabsy… usually eight of us total, two games of four going at a time,” said Scott. “Me and Bicks are pretty good. We’re the sharks at the card table, doesn’t matter what the game is.”

“We’ve got some new players this year, some new challenges,” added Bickell. “But John and I know each other’s style and can read off each other easily. The new blood coming in will make it fun.”

Snarples is one part euchre, minus the teams, and one part hearts.

“You have to take tricks like euchre, but it’s more like hearts because there’s a main suit and someone bids, and then you have to take as many tricks as you say you will,” said Scott. “If you bid seven, you have to get seven. If you go over or under, you may lose five points, lose 10 points, lose 20 points, however many you miss it by. But if you get it, you get those points. If you bid two, you get two times two is four points plus 10 for 14.”

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