Wednesday, November 30, 2016

download hand history fixed in Internet Explorer and Edge

About a week ago, someone reported to me that they tried to download a hand history in Internet Explorer, but a problem occurred - the file was not correctly downloaded.

It turns out that there was a problem with this download in both Internet Explorer and Edge (two common Windows browsers).

As of this morning, the problems have been fixed. So you should now be able to download hand histories for Euchre, Hearts, Spades, and Pinochle.
Click here to download previous hand history
floppy disk icon
Some people like to download hand histories so they can review what happened in the previous hand. They are also useful when reporting bad card-playing strategy by the bots. If you want to report such a problem with the bots, it's helpful to me if you email me a copy of the hand history when you saw the problem - that way, I can most easily figure out what went wrong. Without it, it's like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Firefox audio alert bug is fixed

A few days ago, I got a report that the audio alerts no longer functioned in the latest version of Firefox. That means you would not get the "gong" sound when your game started - an important feature!

As of this morning, audio alerts are now restored in Firefox. Thanks very much to the player who reported this issue!

site outage

There was a brief outage last night around 7 PM Central US time. It lasted about 10 minutes, and was caused by a network issue at my hosting service. I'm sorry, but there's nothing to be done when this kind of thing happens. I've been pretty happy with this service, but even the best have trouble on rare occasions! I appreciate your patience when such problems occur.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


A "messaging" feature was added to World of Card Games with this morning's update. It is available to Registered players only. You can now send messages to any Registered players on your liked players list by clicking on the (message) link next to their name in the list:
message your liked players
If you have any messages in your inbox, you will see the number of messages next to your name in the upper right corner. Click that number to pop open a little panel where you can check your messages.

There are limitations to this messaging feature that are described in the rules. For example, messaging cannot be done from a table; it is only possible from the "home page". Your message may not reach its recipient, as explained in the rules. And currently, only 10 messages per day are allowed. Take a look at the rules page for more information.

This feature is experimental. It's intended to help people schedule games with each other, and find each other at the site. If it causes problems, technical or social, it may be removed in the future. Please let me know if you have any trouble with it.

The update also fixed a bug in Go Fish that caused double-clicking on a card to throw an error, breaking the interaction with the game. Also, the bots in Euchre were modified to be more cautious in ordering the up card into their partner's hand.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

dragging cards bug fixed in gin rummy

A few people have reported to me that when they upgraded their PC to Windows 10, they could no longer drag the cards around, to rearrange them, in Gin Rummy.

The bug that caused this should be fixed, as of today! Please let me know if the change doesn't solve your problem.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

notification of lost internet

The site now has a mechanism that looks for problems with your internet connection, and lets you know if it finds something wrong. This mechanism is not infallible, so it may not detect all problems. But I hope it will help.
Error Lost Internet
I rarely get internet problems, and when I do, it's pretty clear to me what has happened. I'll chat or click a card, and nothing happens! I'll quickly check another reliable website such as Google, and find it's offline too... and then I'll check my router and find that my internet is out. I'll have to call my internet service provider (ISP) to find out how long the interruption will be.

I've had a few people tell me that sometimes they'll get dealt a hand, and one card is missing! I believe this is due to a short internet glitch. Usually all you need to do is reload the page in your browser to fix this. The new network notification should help with this problem too, but I can't be sure. Cards never go missing for me, and so it's hard for me to tell what causes this problem.

If you hover over the notification, you'll see a tooltip that reads "Check internet connection! Click to reload page". Clicking the notification will reload the page in your browser. But that will only work if your internet connection is working. If it's not, then a page reload will fail. So double-check your internet if you see this message.

I've written another post about how the "stats info" panel works; there's been a minor change. Check that out if you use that feature.

click your name for stats info to show

stats info panel
I've had a number of people tell me that they accidentally click their avatar when playing a card, and it causes the "stats info" panel to pop up, unintentionally.

I've had it happen a few times myself. Since it was bothering some people, I've changed this feature so that you must click your own name to get the "stats info" panel to pop up. See the screenshot above for how it works. If you click another player's avatar, the stats will still pop up that way. It just works differently for you, and will not appear if you click your own avatar.

Monday, June 27, 2016

list of tables updated, pause button added

With this morning's update, the list of tables has been modified so that it is disabled for about half a second while updating. This should help players avoid clicking on the wrong table by accident.

Pause and Continue buttons have been added to public tables. These buttons will be familiar to those who play at private tables. The difference is that at public tables, all players must vote to pause by clicking the Pause button. Also, the pause lasts for 2 minutes only before the game restarts. And if any single player hits the Continue button, the game will restart. This is to avoid inconveniencing someone who does not want to wait.

Pause and Continue buttons
The Pause button will be useful primarily to players who know each other well. It is polite to hit the Pause button if someone requests it, but you should not expect that everyone will agree to do so. Please be polite when requesting it.

There's something new for the Euchre players: I was recently made aware of the "Next" strategy in Euchre. Apparently it's pretty well known to more advanced players. I did a few experiments, and found that the bots did pretty well when using it. So I've added it to their strategy. If you are not familiar with this strategy, please read my post about it. When your partner uses this strategy, you need to play your cards accordingly. So watch for it, and I hope you will enjoy winning more Euchre hands with this technique.

"next" strategy in Euchre

I ran some experiments on the "next" strategy in Euchre. If you love Euchre, you may be interested. For an explanation of the "next" strategy, and the details of my experiment, click this link.

The bots have been updated to use the "next" strategy if it makes sense. Be on the lookout for it!
Euchre - think about using the "Next" strategy

Monday, June 20, 2016

summer word puzzles 2016

Today is the first day of summer in the USA! World of Card Games has sponsored a flyer with word puzzles to celebrate summer in Boston. There's a crossword puzzle, some anagrams, and a word search puzzle. Have fun with it!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hearts hand history now available

Hand histories are now available in Hearts, so you can take a look at all the cards played after the hand is over. This feature was already available in Euchre, Spades, and Pinochle. If you wish to report a bug in Hearts, please try to grab the hand history, and send it to me along with the bug report. To do this, click the little floppy disk that appears next to your nameplate after a hand. This will download a small text file that contains a link that can be used to show a replay of the hand, with all cards shown. Use this after your game to see how each card was played.
click to download your hand history
This morning's update also contained a bug fix. A few players were having trouble with a "TypeError" message when trying to get to a table. That problem has been fixed.

Also, the Spades bots got a bit of tuning to fix a bug in the way that they cover a nil bid. Thanks to "no bots plz" for reporting this issue (together with the hand history - that helped so much)!

Note: in my previous blog post, I mentioned that I would soon be adding a "decay" to the Elo ratings. I got a few comments from people who just want the Elo rating hidden. I could do this instead. Does anyone care which way this is done? The intent is to encourage people to play, rather than "sitting" on their ratings.

Monday, May 30, 2016

euchre ranked tables

You can now play ranked games of Euchre at World of Card Games! Euchre is a team game, so the rules are the same as for Spades. There's only one real difference: there are no "skill points" for Euchre.

Just a few quick remarks about ranked games. You can get to ranked Euchre games by clicking the Menu button (for Euchre). You will also see ranked tables in the "list of tables". You'll see 4 empty seats if the table is completely empty, otherwise you'll see an R for a registered player. If you want to sit opposite someone as their teammate, click the square that is one seat away from them (partners are given alternate seats in the list of tables).

The rules for ranked tables are:
  1. They are for registered players only.
  2. You must have completed at least 10 regular games before you can play a ranked one.
  3. You cannot start a table with bots, but if someone drops out, then bots can be invited.
  4. If you drop off the table by accident, you are given 3 minutes to return to the table before you are penalized with a loss. Note that the remaining players do not have to invite a bot, but are allowed to, to take your place.
  5. You are given an Elo rating upon completion. The Elo rating is computed the same in Euchre as described for Spades.
Because ranked tables cannot start with bots, they can take a while to get started. The reward is worth the wait, since players take the game more seriously and are less likely to drop out, in my experience. So give it a try!

FYI - In the next week or two, an Elo ratings "decay" will be introduced. If a player has not played in a ranked game for 2 weeks, their Elo rating will be decremented. This will continue each week that the player is not active in ranked games, until the rating reaches 1500 again. All that's needed to keep the decay from occurring is to participate in a ranked game. [Edit June 26 2016: Instead of ratings decaying, the ratings just don't show up on the leaderboards when players do not participate for 2 weeks.]

Euchre ranked games available for registered players

Sunday, May 1, 2016

player info available at tables

You can view a few player statistics while you are at a table, after this morning's update. Just click any player's avatar, and a "mini stats panel" will pop up for each player [Edit July 24 2016 - click your name to get the stats panel to appear; click any other player's avatar for the same effect]:
mini stats panel
The first number is their Elo rating. This only appears in games that have rankings (currently Hearts and Spades). If all that you see is a dash, then the player is not yet ranked.

The 2nd number is how many games the player has "completed". This is the same as the number shown as "Finished" in your own stats panel.

The 3rd number tells you how much the person tends to quit games. You should not expect this to be a perfect 0%, since people sometimes get kicked from games accidentally, or have to leave due to unforeseen circumstances. Only the last 16 games are tracked, so it's pretty easy to improve this score with just a few games. Note: it is not counted as quitting if
  • you leave a table that has not yet started
  • you leave a bots-only table before the game finishes
  • you leave a private table before the game finishes
This score is supplied to give you an idea about how reliable the player is. The higher the percent, the more likely it is that the person might skip out on your game.

The update this morning also fixed a long-standing issue that players were able to sign in from a table. It's convenient to be able to do this if you forget to log in from the home page, but some people were using it to manipulate their stats by logging in just before a win at a table. It's no longer allowed, and there's an obvious reminder at the top of the home page letting you know when you're not logged in.
sign in from the home page only!
Other changes: The cards are now fanned wider by default in the Twenty-Nine game, and chat lobbies now hang around for 24 hours at least. Also, bot strategies have been slightly improved in Spades and Double Deck Pinochle.

Friday, April 15, 2016

chats no longer blocked

I got several emails from players that the chats of the player to their right were blocked by the scoreboard in Spades after the update of April 10 that allowed cards to be fanned wider.

This should be fixed now. Thanks to those who reported this, and let me know if you notice any other problems!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

rankings added to spades card game

Ranked games have been added to Spades!

You will only be ranked if you choose to play a ranked game, which is shown in purple in the list of tables. Here's an example:
ranked tables are purple in the list of tables
Ranked tables are more strict than regular ones:
  1. You must be registered and have finished at least 10 games to get into one.
  2. You cannot start a game with bots! They can be invited if someone leaves, however.
  3. If you quit, and do not return within 2 3 minutes, you are banned from ranked Spades games for 4 hours 2 hours [ban interval was changed on August 21 2016].
  4. Quitting counts as a loss to your Elo rating. If you quit, you take a loss to your two opponents. (The Elo rating of the quitter's teammate is computed independent of this - it depends entirely on whether their team wins or loses, as long as they stick to the end of the game).
The idea is to make ranked tables a little more serious than regular ones. People who enter a ranked game should be committed to sticking to the game, and not quitting at the drop of a hat.

Note: Since Spades is a team game, Elo ratings are computed as if you are participating in two matches, one against each opponent. You are not ranked against your teammate.

BTW you can also get to ranked games from the Spades menu. Click the "Menu" button at the lower right of the Spades game panel, and then click the "Play Ranked Spades" link to be taken to a ranked table:
get to ranked tables using the Menu button
In addition to ranked games, the update this morning applied some more changes. Trick cards can now be piled vertically. And the cards are fanned wider in Hearts, Spades, and Double Deck Pinochle. I hope these additions will make it easier to use the site. Feedback is welcome.

cards fanned wider in Spades, Hearts, and Double Deck Pinochle

The cards in your hand are now fanned wider in Hearts, Spades, and Double Deck Pinochle. Also, the chat button and chat input are moved closer to your avatar. Here's the new view:
For comparison, here's the previous look:

There are two settings for fanning your cards. I had some feedback that people were misclicking cards because the cards were not clear and separate enough on smaller screens. This change is intended to help with that.

This also helps an issue that was plaguing Double Deck Pinochle players. This game starts with 20 cards in your hand, and the chat bubble would obscure a few of these if you chatted early on in the hand. With your chat bubble moved way over to the left, this should be less of a problem now.
Chat bubble in Double Deck Pinochle
Different card decks have different dimensions, so you may want to try using a new deck if your current one doesn't look as good with the new view.

cards in the trick pile can be set vertically

There's a new setting that lets you see the cards in the trick pile lined up vertically, like this:
Trick cards piled vertically
It's off by default. To turn it on, click on your username in the upper right corner to get to your settings. Check the box for "Pile Cards Vertically", and you'll see it take effect immediately:
Pile Cards Vertically user setting

The default way that the trick cards are piled up can sometimes obscure the card rank. I hope this helps with that problem.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

server update, new features

The server was updated this morning. Sorry for the outage while this was done!

The update applied several improvements:
  1. Twenty-Nine now has the Double / Redouble Option
  2. Double Deck Pinochle players can download hand histories
  3. Gin Rummy players can see the size of the stock pile
In addition, the site uses a new audio library that works on more devices. I have an Android tablet where alerts are now audible, so this is an improvement for Android users, at least. [Edit Mar 12 2016: I want to mention that this library breaks the site for versions of the web browser Opera that are earlier than 11.60. Sorry! But that is a pretty old version of Opera, from Dec 2011. Please upgrade if you are using this browser. Thank you to Doriano for bringing this to my attention!]

Players at ranked Hearts tables now have a 2-minute grace period to return to their table if they get disconnected, causing them to leave the table (note that this does not apply if you click the "leave table" link - if you do this, you will be warned of the penalty, and it does apply). If you've ever been frustrated because you were kicked from a ranked Hearts table due to an internet disruption, I hope this helps. Note that the remaining players at the table are free to call on a bot to replace you during the 2-minute grace period. However, as soon as you return to the site, you will replace that bot, provided it is within 2 minutes of your leaving.

At all games, it has sometimes been a problem that a player would hit the backspace button, intending to erase a character in their chat, but it got interpreted as telling the browser to "go back" to the previous page. It would get you kicked from your table unless you returned to the site very quickly! With today's update, the backspace button is ignored unless it's used within a text input field. I hope this problem is solved, now.

Power Pinochle hand history now available

In Euchre and Spades, you can download a hand history. The file can be used to replay the hand of cards that you most recently played.
Now, a similar feature comes to Double Deck Pinochle at World of Card Games. It's a little different though. The people over at Power Pinochle have developed several tools for learning Pinochle. One of them is called the hand animator. Since they've already got this tool in place, I created the Pinochle hand histories so that they can be used together with their free, online tool.

To get your hand history, wait till the hand has finished. You will see a "Power Pinochle" icon appear next to your nameplate (note: this feature is only available to Registered users). Click the icon to download the text file that contains the hand history:
Click Power Pinochle icon to get your hand history
Once you have the history file, just copy the content into the hand animator textbox and hit the Submit button, and then you can follow the gameplay step-by-step.

The hand animator is loaded with a sample history to start, so you can try it out immediately without having to download a hand history. If you have any trouble at all with this, just write to me and I will help.

By the way, since hand histories were introduced, I've had lots of good tips from Euchre players who have sent me hand histories that showed problems with the bot strategies. I really appreciate that! I've implemented a number of changes to make the bots better, based on these bug reports. If you see the bots do something silly in Pinochle, grab the hand history and send it to me, and let me know what went wrong. I hope I can improve the bots for Pinochle this way, too.

new twenty-nine option for double / redouble

The Double / Redouble Option has been added to the Twenty-Nine card game at World of Card Games!

Double / Redouble is described at Pagat as a popular variation of the game, and I've had several requests to add it. It works like this: the opponents of the team that declared trump have a chance to say "double" after trump is chosen. Then if the declarers do not make their bid, they will lose 2 game points instead of 1. If they do make their bid, they will win 2!

The declarers can respond with "redouble". If they do not make their bid, they will lose 4 game points. If they do make their bid, they win 4!

It only takes one player on a team to declare "double" or "redouble" - either player can do it.

The Double / Redouble Option is turned on by default. If you start a table using the default options, then Double / Redouble applies. If you do not want to play with this option, you will need to set the radio button for "Allow Double-Redouble" to "No" in your Options settings.
Double Redouble option for Twenty-Nine card game

Tables which use this new option are designated with "drt" (it stands for "Double Redouble Twenty-Nine") in the list of tables. Tables with the Seventh Card option are shown designated with "sct".) In the screenshot of the list of tables below, the Twenty-Nine table has both of these options applied, and a single Guest is sitting at it:

Table having Seventh Card and Double Redouble options applied

gin rummy players can see the size of the stock pile

In Gin Rummy at World of Card Games, you can now view the size of the stock pile (the stock pile is the pile of cards on the left that are face down).

When you start your game, you will see a small disk containing a question mark next to the stock pile. Click this to reveal the number of cards in the stock pile:
number of cards in the Gin Rummy stock pile is 31

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Poll: should timeouts at ranked Hearts games be changed?

Everyone reading this post probably knows that at World of Card Games, you get forced to play a card if you don't play it quickly enough. Possibly you've been frustrated in experiencing this. But people waiting for you to play your card often share a similar frustration. The timeout is designed to keep the game moving along, so that people are not stuck waiting a long time for someone to play.

If you don't like how long someone is taking, you can always "dislike" them and drop off the table. This hurts your stats, though, and many people like to finish a game once it has started. I have gotten feedback that some people like the timeouts. At other game sites, people sometimes deliberately take a long time to play, in order to get people to drop out of the game. This gives them a win, and improves their stats artificially. I don't want players at World of Card Games to have this problem.

Now with ranked games, I've gotten feedback that some do not want timeouts at all, or that the timeouts are too short. So here's a poll - it specifically refers to ranked games (currently only Hearts has a special ranked table, but rankings will come to other games asap).

I think I've set enough choices to satisfy anyone who has an opinion. If I didn't think of something, please mention it in the comments. I can always run another poll.

Note that in Hearts, the current timeouts are 30 seconds to choose your cards to pass, and 15 seconds to play a card. (I just want to mention that the "show results" link is not showing results properly... click here for current results).

Sunday, January 31, 2016

chat lobbies at world of card games

Each game now has its own Chat Lobby at World of Card Games. The lobby is a way for players to meet up, and leave messages for each other. Note: All messages are public!

To get to the Chat Lobby, click on the Menu button at the lower left corner of the game of your choice. In the screenshot below, the Menu button for Double Deck Pinochle is encircled in green. It's where the old Tutorial button used to be (tutorials are now accessed by clicking on the Menu button).
Menu button replaces the Tutorial button
When you click the Menu button, the Menu panel opens. You will see several links displayed. This next screenshot shows the Menu panel for Hearts. There's a link to the Chat Lobby, the Tutorial, a link to play with bots, one to play with people, and one to play ranked Hearts games. Currently only Hearts has ranked games, but some other games will get rankings soon.

If you want to close the Menu panel without clicking any links, click the red/white x in the upper right corner, as shown below.
Menu panel has links to Chat Lobby, Tutorial, etc
You must be a registered player, and logged in, to use the Chat Lobby. As you can see in the next screenshot, leaving a chat in the lobby is very simple. Just make sure your mouse cursor is focused in the long text input near the bottom of the page - this should happen by default. Then, type in your text, and hit the Return (or Enter) key on your keyboard.
How to use the Chat Lobby
Chat lobbies persist for 30 minutes after the last person has left them, and the lobby holds a total of 200 chat messages. Because likes and dislikes apply in lobbies, just like at regular game tables, there may be more than one lobby for your game. If you don't see the person you are looking for in the first lobby where you go, you can click the "next" link at the bottom of the screen to get to any other lobbies for that game. If there are no more, you will get an error message.

Chat lobbies are completely new, so please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements or additional features, or if you see any problems with them. I hope this new feature helps people more easily find each other at the site.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!
I'm en route to Florida for a little vacation. A special thanks goes out to "beachwoman" for hosting me and my boyfriend on New Year's Eve. We had a fun (and delicious) visit!