It's a diversion, much like pinochle or gin rummy were in the days when there were only three TV channels.
also pinocle, 1864, Peaknuckle, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Swiss dialect Binokel (German), binocle (French), from French binocle "pince-nez" (17c.), from Medieval Latin binoculus "binoculars" (see binocular). Taken as a synonym for bésigue "bezique," the card game, and wrongly identified with besicles "spectacles," probably because the game is played with a double deck. Pinochle was popularized in U.S. late 1800s by German immigrants.