Popular table games in prison
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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Thought people would be interested in what's up in the game world on the other side of the fence. I work in a medium security prison in Wisconsin. These are the the table games I see most often played at the prison.
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1. Board Game: Dominoes [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:20045]
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Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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The most commonly played game is dominoes, with the rule set of the domino ends adding to a multiple of 5 to score. The game is played with plenty of energy, slamming dominoes (if they can get away with it), and "commentary" to the opponents. If you haven't played, try it. It is a good game.
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2. Board Game: Spades [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1730]
Board Game: Spades
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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Poker and gambling are not allowed. But, there sure seems a lot of interest in the outcomes of the Spades games.
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3. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:619] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Board Game: Cribbage
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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A Cribbage game can always be found. (Cribbage board is often used to keep score of the dominoes games.)
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4. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:434] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Chess
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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Chess is definitely present, generally by a small avid group of inmates. Perhaps because of that, it seems that chess is the game that the players most often may be of different racial groups.
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5. Board Game: Schafkopf [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:3912]
Board Game: Schafkopf
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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Sheepshead (Schafkopf) is a great bidding/trick-taking game played in much of Wisconsin. Don't see the inmates play it much, but there is always a staff game over lunch.
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6. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:19737]
Board Game: Risk
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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Occasional Risk game, again only by a very small group of inmates. A hassle for the inmates and staff as staff must check-in/out all dice.
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7. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1294]
Board Game: Backgammon
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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I don't see checkers much. A little backgammon, but they do not use traditional rules, rather "Acey-Deucy" rules printed on the back of the checkers box. (See note above on dice.)
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8. Board Game: Jenga [Average Rating:5.60 Overall Rank:11248]
Board Game: Jenga
Craig Blumer
United States
Oshkosh
Wisconsin
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I have used Jenga in a treatment group I do with the inmates. Good to mix work and fun.
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9. Board Game: Stop Thief [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:3995]
Board Game: Stop Thief
Ken F
United States
Fort Wayne
Indiana
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Gamescape, a San Francisco game store made a mail order sale to a prison inmate back in 1986. When he was released later that year, he broke into Gamescape during the dead of night and made off with several items, including the checkbook.

But I should note that his ordered consisted of roleplaying games, and not boardgames.
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10. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:713]
Board Game: Bridge
Mike Kollross
Canada
Carvel
Alberta
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I worked in a MAX for a few years and Bridge was a favorite with the old time cons.
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11. Board Game: Ausbrecher AG [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:7901]
Board Game: Ausbrecher AG
Frank da man
Thailand
Chumpohn
Chumpohn
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it´s small, it´s short, it´s fun and the theme fits perfectly well
 
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12. Board Game: Prison Bitch [Average Rating:4.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Prison Bitch
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
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I think this one goes without saying.
 
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13. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Board Game: Formula Dé
When I worked for Youth Corrections, I would drag Formula De in on slow Sundays. The kids really enjoyed it. They asked for other games as well, such as Fossil, Mongolfiere, checkers. It was a good, social activity for them; better than parking them in front of a TV.
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14. Board Game: Alcatraz [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:16765]
Board Game: Alcatraz
Nello Cozzolino
United Kingdom
London
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famous prison ...!
 
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15. Board Game: Escape from Colditz [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1741]
Board Game: Escape from Colditz
Michiel Hillenius
Netherlands
Hoogland (Amersfoort)
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Don't they play this game? It is fun to play although they might get inspired.
 
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16. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1542]
Board Game: Hoity Toity
Robert O
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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This game will give hope to all who have lost faith in our beloved parole system. It introduces a very simple solution to prison overcrowding.
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17. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:20519] [Average Rating:5.23 Unranked]
Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition
Jamie Graham
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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I spent about a year in a minimum-security prison for LSD in the early '90s. The prison camp had a copy of the original "Trivial Pursuit," with one of the boxes of questions missing, but entirely functional. Security regulations vary from prison to prison, but six-sided dice were not considered contraband or were particularly controlled in this prison, so the die could be kept with the game.

While I was there, there were two official, intramural "Trivial Pursuit" contests. I came in second to a former economist for the World Bank who was serving time for tax evasion (something about fudged expense accounts- I never pressed him on the details), who was also the owner of the "Trivial Pursuit" game. He left the game to me upon his release- with the advice to just memorize all the cards, which is what he had done. Anyone who has the game can do this, but one rarely has the time.

I won the second "Trivial Pursuit" contest. I got the first pick of a selection of solid-colored t-shirts, so I picked the green one. (In the prior contest, I had come in second, so I had picked the yellow one.)

I haven't played in a long while, and while I'm good, I'm not as good with copies of the game that have both of the boxes.
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18. Board Game: Castle Risk [Average Rating:5.48 Overall Rank:19819]
Board Game: Castle Risk
Jamie Graham
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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We also had a copy of the "Castle Risk" (and regular "Risk") in Camp Petersburg. I played it a few times, but most of the guys just wanted to play regular "Risk."
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19. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.30 Overall Rank:20582]
Board Game: The Game of Life
Bryce Nakagawa
United States
California
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Frequently represented, if not necessarily 'popular'. ^_^
 
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20. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.88 Overall Rank:20558]
Board Game: Checkers
The Count
United States
Sacramento
California
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I'll add Checkers, since I didn't see it listed. From my experence in a "Correctional Setting",

Chess, Checkers, Dominoes, and Spades and Hearts are pretty much the main games. Most of the other ones weren't allowed.

The Chess/Checkboards were imprinted on the metal tables, and only cards and dominoes and the pieces to play Chess and Checkers were allowed. Dice were not allowed.

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