Cassino is the lone entry of a family of so-called “fishing” games to gain popularity in the English-speaking world. Cassino, a game for two players, revolves around capturing cards on a field of play by matching cards in your hand against them. Its name is sometimes hypercorrected to Casino. The spelling with two S‘s is the traditional spelling, and helps distinguish it from people’s usual association with the word casino, which is a place where you will probably never see a Cassino game.
Object of Cassino
The object of Cassino is to use the cards in your hand to capture cards on the table. Particular attention is given to nabbing certain high-scoring cards.
Cassino requires one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Naturally, we recommend Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal four cards to the board and four to each player, in the following pattern: two to the opponent, two to the table, two to the dealer, then repeating. The remainder of the deck is set aside and forms the stock.
The non-dealer plays first. Most turns, a player will either capture a card on the board, or set up a capture on a subsequent turn by building, as described below. If a player cannot make any other play on their turn, they must trail by discarding one card face-up to the board. A player may not simply trail if they are able to capture something with that card, however. Trailing usually happens immediately after someone has cleared the board of cards.
Every fourth turn, the players exhaust their hands. New four-card hands are dealt from the stock, two at a time, as before. The board does not receive any further cards, and the cards already on the board remain in play.
On their turn, a player may use any card in their hand to capture one or more of the board cards. The cards so captured, as well as the one played by the player, are placed face-down in a score pile in front of them. Capturing is achieved in one of two ways. The first is by pairing, in which case the card captures all other cards of that rank on the board. The second is by addition, wherein the player captures two or more other cards that total the value of the card being played. For the purposes of addition, aces count as one and numerical cards as their face value. Face cards have no value and cannot be captured by addition.
A single card may capture an unlimited number of cards, so long as all of the cards captured match the card being played. It is possible to clear the entire board of cards in one play. This is called a sweep. When a sweep occurs, it is recorded by putting the card performing in the sweep face-up in the score pile.
A player may also use a card from their hand to build. This is using a card from your hand to create a combination that can be captured on a subsequent turn. Builds can be created with intent to capture them either by addition or pairing. With a 5 on the board and a 2 in the hand, for example, a player may announce “Building seven” and add the 2 to the 5, then later capture both of them with a 7 from the hand. Or, with a pair of 8s in the hand and a third 8 on the table, a player might build one 8 onto the other, announcing “Building eights”, and capture the pair with the third eight from their hand on a later turn.
Note, however, that an opponent can capture a build if they happen to have a card of the right rank to do so. A build can only be captured by what it was previously declared to be a build of. For instance, if a 5 was played on another 5 with a declaration of “Building fives”, the build could not be captured with a 10.
In order to build, player must have another card actually capable of capturing the build as declared. Builds must be captured as a unit; one cannot capture just one or two cards from one.
A previously-established build may be augmented with further building before it is captured. Further building must continue in the manner it was started. For example, a build composed of a pair of 2s, announced as “Building twos”, could only be extended with more 2s. A 5 could not be added to convert it to an addition build.
Ending the hand
Game play continues until both the stock and the players’ hands are exhausted. The last player to make a successful capture adds the remaining board cards to their score pile. (This does not constitute a sweep unless the player actually captured all of the cards on the board at once.) The hand is then scored as follows:
- Each sweep—one point.
- Each ace—one point.
- Collecting the most spades—one point.
- Little Cassino—capturing the 2♠, one point.
- Big Cassino—capturing the 10♦, two points.
- Collecting the most cards overall—three points. In the event of a tie for most cards overall, neither player is awarded these three points.
The first player to score 11 or 21 points (as previously agreed by the players) wins.