California Cassino

California Cassino

"This article is about a permutation of cassino. For the original game, see cassino (card game)"

California Cassino is a card game for two, three, four or six players, played with a standard deck of playing cards. The object is to score the most points through acquiring certain cards or by acquiring a certain number of cards.

While the name might suggest that the game is played mostly in California, it actually only refers to the birthplace of the game, which is a permutation of cassino, a card game that has roots in the Italian card game Scopa. A Northern California boy, who misunderstood the traditional rules that his grandmother had taught him, unintentionally developed this increasingly popular version of Cassino.

The Deal

The dealer deals four cards to each player, one at a time, and, in the first deal, four cards face up to the table. This is the only point at which cards are placed on the table by the dealer.

The Play

Beginning with the player to the dealer's left, each player plays one card at a time, performing one of the following actions:

* "Laying:" Any card may be discarded face up to the table.
* "Pairing:" Any card may be used to take another card of the same rank, or a build with the same value (to understand what a build is, please continue reading).
* "Combining:" A number card may be used to take two or more cards whose rank total the number on the card being used to take them. For example, a player may take a 2 and a 5 with a 7, or may take a 2, 4, and 4 with a 10.
* "Building:" Cards may be placed upon one another to represent a new value on the table. The procedure for this method is listed below.

Face cards do not have a denomination and are not available for combining or building, though multiple face cards can be paired simulatenously. For example, if a player has a queen in their hand and two queens lay on the table, that player can acquire all three queens.

While other forms of cassino use "sweeps," a point for clearing the table, California Cassino prohibits points based on sweeps.

Cards are usually left on the table after each player's final hand is exhausted. These cards are given to the last player to take in cards through pairing or combining.


There are two types of building:

Under the first type, a player may lay one card on top of another if their total equals the total of a card in his hand, and announce that the two cards are built to the total. For example, a player may build a 2 onto a 7 and announce "building nine," provided he has a 9 in his hand. The two cards cannot be split up for pairing or combining, and are treated as a single nine.

Builds of this type may be taken in by either player by pairing. The building player's adversaries may also take in a build by combination; for example, an eight build may be combined with an ace if an adversary holds a nine. Any player may also continue to build on a build, for example, a seven build could be built to nine by a player with a 2 and an 9. The player who originally builds may also re-build, but only if he holds all appropriate cards: in the example above, he would have to hold both a 7 and a 9 to make the required building steps.

In the second type of building, a player may lay one card on top of multiple cards to build to one numerical value. For example, if a player holds a 3 if their hand and a 2 and 4 are on the table, that player may place the 3 on the 4 and the 2 and declare "building 9."

California Cassino prohibits players from laying one card on top of another if their values are the same in an effort to claim those two cards are built together. For example, a player cannot place a 7 on top of another 7, or on top of a 5 and a 2 which have been built to 7, and announce "building sevens." Players must either pair cards on the table or lay their card down and hope to acquire both cards on their next turn.


The round is over when the deck has been exhausted and the last deal played. Players count their cards and score points as follows:

* Higher number of cards: 2
* Higher number of spades: 2
* 10 of diamonds ("big cassino"): 2
* 2 of spades: ("little cassino"): 1
* Each ace: 1 (4 points total for aces)

Thus there are 11 points to be won in each round. If "most cards" or "most spades" are held by two or more players, no points are awarded in those respective categories.

The number of rounds played is determined by the number of players present. Each player must deal twice in a complete match, so if there are 3 players, then there are 6 rounds of play. At the end of the 6 rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.

ee also


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