Cassino (card game)

Cassino (card game)

Cassino (also known as Casino) is a card game, nominally for two, three or four (usually two) players, played with a standard deck of playing cards. The object is to score 21 points by taking cards.

It is similar to and probably descended from the Italian game Scopa.

The deal

The dealer deals four cards to each player, two at a time, and, in the first deal, four cards face up to the table. The dealer has the option to deal any number of cards at one time to each person so long as each person is dealt in sequence. This can include a deal of one, two, three, or four cards to each. In subsequent deals, the dealer replenishes the players' hands, but not the table. The deal rotates only at the end of a complete round, when the deck has been exhausted.

The play

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

* "Trailing:" Any card may be discarded face up to the table.
* "Pairing:" Any card may be used to take one or more cards of the same denomination, or a build with the same value, that is face up on the table.
* "Combining:" A number card may be used to take two or more cards whose pips total the number on the card being used to take them. For example, a player may take a 3 and a 6 with a 9, or may take a 2, 4, and 4 with a 10.
* "Building:" Cards may be built upon in one of two ways, described in more detail below.Players may perform two of the above actions only when pairing and combining simultaneously; "e.g." a player may take a 3, a 4 and a 7 with his own seven.

Players with builds on the table are limited in the actions they are permitted to make. This is described in more detail below.

Face-cards do not have a denomination in Cassino and are not available for building. The face-cards may only be paired one at a time; if there are two queens on the table, only one queen can be paired up. This removes the possibility of a so-called "orphan" face card remaining and removing the possibility of further 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. It is customary for the dealer, if dealt a face-card in the final hand, to hold this until the final play, as he is certain to pair with it.


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 a 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, called "natural building" or "double building," a player may lay one card on top of another if their values are the same, and announce that the two cards are built together. For example, a player can 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," provided he has a 7 in his hand. The built cards can then be gathered only with another 7. As with the first build type, a player must hold the card necessary to gather his build for the natural build to be permissible.

When building in this manner, players may combine other cards on the table, and build in the first manner. For example, the cards on the table are 2 K 6 5 8, and the player holds a 3 and an 8. He may play his 3 onto the 5 to "build eight," and in the same move "build eights" by gathering the 5-3, the 8 and the 6-2 together onto one pile, taking in all five cards on his next play.

Advantages gained through building

Building exists as a means of protecting cards from being captured by adversaries. The first form of building is a weaker form of protection, and primarily protects cards against combination by mid-to-high range cards. Natural building is a much stronger protection, and prevents adversaries from taking cards unless they hold a card of specific face value, one of which the builder already knows resides in his own hand.

The value of building decreases significantly as the number of players in the game increases. In a two-player game, one requires only one adversary to be bereft of the necessary cards; in a four-player game, one requires three adversaries to be lacking the necessary cards to steal a build. As such, building effectively in a two player game can be very advantageous, but in a four player game is very difficult.

Acting with builds on the table

Two rule variants exist dictating the actions which may be taken by a player who has a build on the table:

*Variant 1: a player with a build on the table is not permitted to trail a card until that build has been taken in or rebuilt upon by an adversary; he may, however, pair, combine or build with any card on the table.

*Variant 2: a player with a build on the table is obliged to either take in that build, by pairing or combination, or to add to that build on his next turn.
While Hoyle recommends variant 1, both variants are very common in different regions. The regional variant of this rule in particular should always be checked before play.

Which variant is used changes the tactics, particularly in a two player game. Under variant 1, the builder has a profound advantage; if he knows that his adversary lacks the cards necessary to steal his build, he can often take several cards trailed by his adversary before taking in his build at the end of the round. Variant 2 allows the adversary to trail a card he wishes to subsequently capture without the risk of it being taken, reducing the builder's advantage.


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

* Higher number of cards: 3
* Higher number of spades: 1
* 10 of diamonds ("big cassino," "big ten," or "good ten"): 2
* 2 of spades: ("little cassino," "little deuce," "good two," or "spy two"): 1
* Each ace: 1

Thus there are 11 points to be won in each round, unless a player has 11 points to himself, some rules state that this player be awarded an extra point, for 12. Other rules state that this is a "skunk" if it occurs in the first round and that player wins. Typically, the winner is the first player to score 21 or more points total. In the event of two players reaching 21 in the same round, the points are awarded in the order listed above. Alternatively, a player can call for a game to be awarded once he is convinced he holds sufficient cards to bring his score to 21; if he does have 21 points, he wins regardless of his adversary's score; if he does not have 21 points, his adversary wins.

If "most cards" or "most spades" are held by two or more players, no points are awarded in that category. []


Five players

Five-player Cassino can be played by removing the deuces of hearts, diamonds and clubs, and by giving an extra card to each player on the last deal.


A sweep is declared by a player who manages to capture all face-up cards from the table. In some localities, each sweep is worth an additional point. Points for sweeps are awarded after the base 11 points, in the event that two players reach 21 in the same round. In another variation, trailing the five of spades sweeps the table, giving one point. Note that the five of spades does not in itself give a point, just the sweep.

Trailing Royals Cassino

In the trailing royals cassino variant, "orphan" cards are not considered a problem and face-cards may be used to build with. Any "orphaned" face cards are left until the end play where a player whom performed the final capture collects them along with all other cards left on the table. Note that this method of play does not pair well with the sweep variant in which "orphaned" cards are problematic.

Royal Cassino

In royal cassino, face cards are given number values upon which building may occur: jacks count as 11, queens as 12, kings as 13. For example, a player could combine a jack and a two with a king, since 11+2=13, and all applicable building laws remain.

In Buckeye cassino, all rules of Royal Cassino are inherited. In addition, the ten of diamonds ('Big Ten') holds two values: ten and eleven, poking fun at college basketball's Big Ten Conference, which currently has 11 teams.

Face cards

In some regions, all four face-cards of the same rank may be gathered simultaneously. This allows natural building with face-cards, while still removing the possibility of an "orphan" card. However, this provides no particular advantage if all four face cards are shared between one player and the table, as is necessary to build in such a manner.

In some regions, face-cards may be naturally built or paired in any way, introducing the possibility that three may be gathered simultaneously. This will introduce an "orphan" card; "i.e." the single remaining face card of a rank which cannot be paired. After the orphan has been trailed, sweeps are impossible.

California Casino

"See California Casino."

pade cassino

In Spade Cassino, players are awarded two points for gathering the jack of spades, and one point for each additional spade, in addition to the one point awarded to the player with the most spades. This lifts the number of points awarded in one round to 25. A game of Spade Cassino is usually played to 61.

Draw cassino

In Draw Cassino, players draw a replacement card each time they make a play, so that they always have four cards in hand (until the end), rather than being dealt cards in discrete rounds of four.

ee also


External links

* [ Rules of Casino at]

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