There's always something going on at 3C's Card Shop in Centennial Mall.
At seemingly any time of day, children and adults can be found sorting cards, chatting with friends or engaged in intense card-playing competition.
Owner Marc Leier said his shop was active because what occurs there is more than just having fun. The most-played games are Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic The Gathering, and Leier said children can pick up a handful of skills by holding the cards.
"That's what makes the game so unique," Leier said of Magic. "First of all, it teaches kids to interact on a competitive level."
He also said that youths learn reading comprehension by interpreting the texts and using them in play. Players must think ahead and strategize. Leier also stresses good sportsmanship.
They learn math skills by totaling attack and defense points and subtracting life points from their total in Yu-Gi-Oh!
"It also teaches them responsibility because they have to keep track of their stuff," Leier said. "They look out for each other. You don't see that in a lot of sports."
Chris Goucher, 10, has been playing cards for a year or so, and he loves it. Although he said he wasn't very good when he began playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, he now is one of the top players. During tournaments at the shop, Goucher said, he usually gets first place.
"He kept looking at everyone else's decks and figuring out what to do," Leier said. "Then he started kicking people's butts."
His friend Raiden Arisawa, 10, who spent nearly every day of his winter break at the shop, agreed.
"(Goucher) can beat anybody within seven turns," he said. "Usually it takes 30 turns to win."
Christopher "Gator" Phillips, 20, prefers Magic, which he has been playing since he was 16. He's one a few regulars Leier sees competing at a higher level.
Regional and professional play can earn winners as much as $50,000, and Leier thinks Phillips might be ready.
"There are four or five of us that have the same skills," said Leier, who also competes. "It just depends on how we put our decks together."
Each player comes to the table with his or her own decks, which are carefully put together with the best cards.
Phillips said building his deck has become expensive. He estimates that he has spent $3,000 on cards in the past five years.
Leier said new packs come out regularly for the games, and children must keep up with them to stay competitive.
"It's not something you can just play once a month and be good at," Phillips said. "You definitely have to keep in practice, especially with the new sets coming out."
And that may be why so many regular players can be found in 3C's so often.
Leier is happy about that, not only from a business standpoint, but also from a parent's standpoint, as his daughter Jessica spends much time at the shop as well.
"On any level, (a kid playing cards) has got to be better than getting into drugs or doing whatever else he'd be doing," he said.