Pinochle, Board Games Winning Residents’ Hearts

Nancy King (left) and Verna King

John Keeling


For many of us, playing card or board games with family and friends is one of our fondest childhood memories. For residents at Twin Lakes Senior Living Community in Montgomery, such activities have become more than a nostalgic pastime, however. Pinochle, Hand and Foot, Dominoes, Sequence, Rummikub– on just about any day of the week, you’ll find areas filled with residents enjoying the socializing opportunities as well as the cognitive benefits these games offer.

Over the past 20 years, Verna King has taught 300 to 400 people the game of Pinochle. Her first Pinochle class after moving to  Twin Lakes garnered 20 participants. They have since “graduated” and have joined the Wednesday afternoon Pinochle Club. A second class recently graduated, and a third class may be planned for next year.

“Pinochle is similar to Bridge, but you can learn it in only four lessons. Bridge takes years to learn,” Verna says. “I can teach Pinochle in four 90-miniute lessons, which I spread out once a week for four weeks. That gives the class members time to study and progress. I tell everyone who signs up, ‘I won’t drop you if you don’t drop me’.”

Teaching Pinochle is no small feat for Verna – she has a chronic condition that is causing her to lose her voice. But never fear. This Pinochle pied piper is more than determined to teach the game she loves. So, as irony would have it, a fellow resident who share’s Verna’s last name, but is no relation, volunteers as the voice for Verna’s classes.

“We moved into Twin Lakes within a week of each other,” recalls Nancy King.” My husband and I went to the Café one night, sat next to this woman and her daughter. We started talking.”

That woman, of course, was Verna, and as the conversation progressed, her daughter – who had planned to help Verna teach Pinochle but was busy babysitting her twin grandbabies – reached out to Nancy and asked her if she could help instead. Nancy was happy to lend Verna a hand – and her voice.

“Verna is so committed, so dedicated, to teaching Pinochle, and she was so good at getting the club going,” Nancy says. “Pinochle is very social, very quick. It keeps everyone moving.

“It’s been a great way to meet people, and you’ve got to think,” Nancy adds. “You can’t just throw cards in.”

JoAnn Hagner, a Pinochle class graduate, followed suit, so to speak, reintroducing Twin Lakes residents to the sheer fun of socializing via popular board games like Sequence and Rummikub.

“I played Pinochle as a young person. But 60 years later, I needed a refresher course,” JoAnn recalls, with a chuckle. She also grew up playing board games, which is her preferred pastime passion. Board games are ageless, and they encourage companionship, she notes.

“If someone is new at Twin Lakes, playing board games is a great way for residents to get to know each other,” JoAnn says. “We play Sequence every Friday. We usually have six people. If we don’t have as many, sometimes we play Rummikub. That’s fun, too! We play Pinochle on Saturday night.

“It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday night, a night when most of our families – if we have families in Cincinnati – are busy doing other things,” she adds.

Research has shown that seniors who play board games or card games reap several benefits that can keep them feeling young, including memory enhancement, stress reduction, immunity support and increased dexterity. But mostly, for the residents at Twin Lakes Senior Living, it’s the fun and friendship the games afford that keep them coming back.

“So many times older people think it’s easier to just stay home and watch TV,” Nancy says. “But playing cards and board games is such a fun way to get to know people.”

Twin Lakes – a Life Enriching Community – is located at 9840 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, OH, 45242. For more information, visit