52 card pick-up has several meanings. It has long been used as a practical joke, or a way to teach kids to clean up after a card game. It also is now used at single events to help break the ice and let singles pose questions to each other on cards.
In the practical joke version, a person asks someone else if they’d like to play 52 card pick-up. If the person asked is agreeable to a 52 card pick-up game, one can throw, or flick the cards all over the room and ask the other person to pick them up. This is a fairly old joke, so chances are it will only work with young children.
A perhaps more productive way to use 52 card pick-up is to play the game at the termination of several games of cards. If children are playing, this can help reinforce the concept that they need to clean up after themselves. Instead of throwing the cards, simply allow each child to pick up as many cards as possible.
One can then tally the cards and the person with the most cards wins. This version is also helpful in making sure all the cards make it back into the deck. In fact some children insist on playing a raucous game of 52 card pick-up to terminate an evening of cards.
Currently a version of 52 card pick-up is used at singles events. It is essentially a play on the word pick-up, rather than a physical picking up of cards. Each single attending the event receives a deck of cards, and may hand them out to other singles with simple questions. One might include a phone number, or a request for a date. Sometimes this version of 52 card pick-up may have suggested pick-up lines to create ease in making a date.
Sometimes the cards may be exchanged in a more random fashion, but since many do not like blind dates, usually each single chooses potential dates. One can choose not to respond to a card with a 52 card pick-up line, or may make a possible connection for dates in the future.