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How do you count, sort and hold your cards

Many moons ago I was kibitzing Reese in London and I remember on one hand (can’t recall the others) that he pulled his cards out of the wallet, fanned them out and held them above his head for the assembled masses behind him to view. He then proceeded to bid and play his cards (he was defending) without sorting them whatsoever. I was astonished by this action. It’s bad enough for me when they are sorted never mind unsorted.

Recently I have been thinking about what I, my partners and opponents do. If you religiously sort your cards in rank within suits it’s not beyond the wit of an unscrupulous declarer to notice that a defender, following to a couple of rounds, detaches the fourth from the left followed by the third one from the left (maybe he has 4 and this suit is not breaking?). Of course he might only have 2 with another doubleton tucked behind.

My own process is that, first of all, I count my cards under the table (so there is no danger of anyone accidentally seeing them). Interestingly others do all sorts of things from laying them out 4333 face down on the table to confirm 13 to fanning them out without counting at all. After counting, I sort them into suits, typically alternate colours. However within the suits I have my cards in random order – the reason is that it takes a shorter time to sort the hand and I must consciously select the card carefully before playing it.

I guess it’s another argument for electronic play but I would definitely miss being face to face at the table.

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