This is a tremendously fun game that seems little known, but has actually been around for centuries. It is sometimes misspelled as “cassino.” Despite its long history, there has been little variation in the game rules throughout the years.
Number of Players
Standard 52 card deck with jokers removed. Cards rank Ace (1)-10, with face cards having no numerical value.
The dealer for this game is sometimes selected by having each player cut the deck, with the lowest cut card winning the deal. The dealer then deals four cards to each player and lays four more face up on the table. This is usually done by dealing two cards at a time to each player followed by two face up on the table, and then two more cards to each player, and another two face up on the table.
Player to the dealer’s left plays first. On a player’s turn, they must play exactly one card from their hand, and may do one of the following: capture, build, or trail.
Capturing: Cards on the table may be captured using cards from a player’s hand (never the other way around). This can be done by matching pairs (an 8 in your hand can take any 8 on the table), or by taking a combination of cards on the table that add up to a card in your hand (an 8 in your hand can take both a 2 and a 6 on the table). If there is a card (or cards) on the table equal to a card in your hand, and a combination of cards that add up to that same number, the card in your hand can take all of those cards (an 8 in your hand can take an 8, 2, and 6 on the table all at once). If there are multiples of a card on the table, you can take all of them with a card of equal numerical value in your hand (an 8 in your hand can take two or even three 8’s from the table). This is also true if there are many cards on the table which can be combined in different ways to equal a card in your hand (if there is a 2, a 6, and a pair of 4’s on the table, an 8 in your hand can take them all). Since face cards have no numerical value, they can only be captured by matching face cards (a jack on the table can only be captured by a jack in your hand). Some variations only allow one face card to be captured at a time (if there are 2 jacks on the table, you may only capture one of them with the jack in your hand). This variation does, however, allow for 3 matching face cards on the table to all be captured by the fourth one from a player’s hand.
Building: If a player chooses, they may combine a card from their hand with a card (or cards) on the table to build up to a higher number. This can only be done if that player has a card in hand that can capture the build on their next turn. For example, if a player has a 7 and a 3 in their hand, they may place the 3 on top of a 4 on the table in order to capture both cards with the 7 on their next turn. A player must always announce that they are making a build (in this case by saying “building seven”). Building pays off by netting a player multiple cards, but it is also a risk, because any player may capture a build made by another player if they have the appropriate card in their hand (if you are building 7, and another player has a 7 in their hand, they may capture your build before your turn comes around again). If no one else captures your build, you must take it on your next turn unless you can either capture a different card (or build) on the table, or make a build even higher. For example, let’s assume that you are building 7, but you also have a 2 and a 9 in your hand. Instead of capturing your build with the 7, you can make the build higher by playing your 2 onto it with the intention of capturing it with the 9 on your next hand. Any player may also increase any other players build if, of course, they have a card they can capture it with. A build may not exceed 10 points. Face cards can be built on top of other face cards (a jack from your hand can be placed onto a jack on the table, and then captured with another jack from your hand on the next turn), unless you are playing with the “one face card capture at a time” rule…in which case you may only build face cards if you can finish by capturing all 4 of them.
Trailing: In the event that on your turn you cannot make a capture or a build, you must “trail” a card instead (play a card from your hand face up on the table).
Play continues clockwise until each player is out of cards, at which point, the dealer deals out 4 more cards to each player in chunks of 2 just as before. No more cards are dealt face up on the table. Each time the players run out of cards, the dealer deals out 4 more until the deck has been exhausted. On the last such deal, the dealer must announce “last” to let the other players know there are no more cards coming. This is important, because whichever player is the last one to make a capture in this hand also wins any remaining face up cards on the table. Players then collect all cards they captured throughout the game to calculate their score.
Points are awarded for having captured the following:
- Most number of cards = 3 points
- Most number of spades = 1 point
- 2 of spades (little casino) = 1 point
- 10 of diamonds (big casino) = 2 points
- Aces = 1 point each
Players also earn a point for every “sweep” they managed to get during the course of the game. A sweep is when a player manages to capture every single face up card on the table at once (the cards awarded for the final capture do not count as a sweep…unless of course, the player could have legally captured them all anyway). Players can keep track of any sweeps they made during the game by keeping a single face up card in front of them for each sweep.
Casino can either be treated as one full hand equaling one game (in which case, the player with the highest total score wins), or it can be played to a predetermined score (usually 21).