Kontsina (also sometimes known as Koltsina or Kolitsina) is a straightforward fishing game for two to four players. Much like in Cassino, players try to capture cards laid out on the table. This can be done through matching cards in rank, or by adding the values of the target cards together to equal the rank of a card in your hand.
Like Xeri, Kontsina originates in Greece. There, the game is often learned and enjoyed by children. A more complex Greek game, Diloti, is similar to a merge between Kontsina and Xeri, allowing more latitude for strategy.
Object of Kontsina
The object of Kontsina is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank.
To play Kontsina, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, to make your Kontsina game the place to be, you’ll want to play using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also want something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up on the table. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player may play a single card from their hand. If the card doesn’t match any of the other cards on the table, it is called laying the card. A card that is laid simply remains on the table. However, if possible, a player will normally try to match another card on the table, as doing so allows them to capture the card.
The simplest way to capture a card is to merely match it by rank. For example, a jack can capture another jack, a 4 can capture another 4, and so on. Note that if there are multiple cards on the table of the same rank, a player can only capture one of them through matching.
Another way a player may capture a card is by playing a card that two or more cards on the table add up to in pip value. For example, a 9 could be used to capture a 5 and a 4, or a 6 and a 3, or a 2, 3, and 4, and so on. Aces are considered to have a value of one. Face cards do not have a value in this way and can only be captured by matching by rank.
When a player captures a card, the cards so captured, as well as the card used to capture them, are placed face-down in a pile in front of the player. This pile is kept separate from the player’s hand, and no player may look through it until the hand is over.
After playing one card, whether it captures anything or not, the player’s turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.
Replenishing the hands
When each player has played four times, everyone will be out of cards. The dealer then deals four new cards to each player from the stock, and the game continues.
Ending the hand
The hand ends when all of the players are out of cards and there are none remaining in the stock. Any remaining cards on the table are taken by the last player to capture any cards. Each player then looks through their captured-cards pile, and scores points as follows:
- Two points for capturing the most cards. If two or more players tie for capturing the most cards, these two points are not scored by anyone.
- One point for capturing the most clubs.
- One point for capturing the 2♣. (Note that the 2♣ still counts as a club for the purpose of capturing the most clubs.)
- One point for capturing the 10♦.
The deal then passes to the left, and a new hand is played. Game play continues until at least one player reaches a predetermined score, for example, 21 points. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, additional tiebreaker hands are played until a winner is determined.
Xeri is a simple fishing game for two players. In Xeri, players alternately discard single cards to a pile in the middle of the table. When someone plays a card that matches the rank of the top card of the discard pile, they get to claim all the cards in the pile!
Xeri originates from Greece, and xeri is a Greek word meaning “dry” or “plain”. This comes from the bonus scored when capturing a single-card pile. The notion of collecting bonuses for capturing cards one at a time is also found in the more complex and strategic Greek game Diloti.
Object of Xeri
The object of Xeri is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured by matching cards from the hand to the top card of the discard pile.
To play Xeri, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As a discerning host that wants to provide the best to their players, you’ll of course want to play with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.
Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards, face up, to form a discard pile. Take a look at these cards to see if the top card of the pile is a jack, or if the card on top of the pile and the card below it are the same rank. If either of these are true, shuffle the discard pile back into the deck and deal a new four-card discard pile. After the discard pile has been formed, place the stub next to it, forming the stock.
The non-dealer goes first. They may play any card they wish to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the dealer, who also discards a card, and so on.
If a player plays a card of the same rank as the card currently showing on top of the discard pile, they capture the pile. They take the whole pile and place it face down in front of them, forming a won-cards pile. Their opponent then discards a card, starting a new discard pile.
Jacks are essentially wild. When played, they capture the pile as if they matched the top card, whatever its rank is.
Once cards are captured and placed in the won-cards pile, neither player can look through them to see what has and hasn’t been played yet.
After a player captures cards, their opponent starts a new discard pile with a single card. The capturing player is then faced with a discard pile with only one card in it. If they capture this card with a card of the same rank, they are said to have captured that card xeri (an adjective meaning “plain” or “dry”). Capturing xeri scores more points than cards captured otherwise. To signify this, the card captured xeri is turned face up and placed at right angles to the rest of the pile.
If a single card is captured by a jack, it does not count as a xeri capture unless the single card in the pile was also a jack.
Replenishing the hands
After six turns, both players’ hands will have been depleted. The dealer then deals each player a fresh hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.
When the stock is depleted, the hand is played out until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining in the discard pile and adds them to their won cards.
At the end of the hand, each player calculates their score for the hand as follows:
- 10 points for each xeri (note that the xeri cards also count as captured cards, and so should be included when considering the scoring options below)
- 3 points for capturing more cards than the opponent
- 1 point for each ace, king, queen, jack or 10
- 1 point for capturing the 10♦ (note that the 10♦ also counts as a 10, so capturing it is worth two points altogether)
- 1 point for capturing the 2♣
Whichever player scores the most points wins the hand. The deal passes to the other player, and the next hand is played. Whoever won more hands at the end of a predetermined number of hands wins the overall game.
Porrazo (also sometimes called Porosso, Parosso, or Parear) is a fishing game of Mexican origin for two to five players. (Four players may play either in partnerships or singly.) Like the most well-known fishing game, Cassino, game play centers around playing cards to the table and then capturing them with cards from the hand of the same rank. However, in Porrazo, there are all manner of available bonuses for playing the right card at the right time.
Porrazo first appeared in American game books around the turn of the twentieth century. It experienced a couple of decades of popularity before being quietly dropped from the books and fading into obscurity in the 1920s.
Object of Porrazo
The object of Porrazo is to be the first player or partnership to score 61 points. Points are scored chiefly by forming pairs of cards between the cards on the table and the cards in your hand.
To play Porrazo, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Hopefully, you’ve got a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards you can press into service for the occasion. You’ll also need something to keep score with. Because of the frequent scoring and the target score of 61 points, using a Cribbage board for scoring is a natural fit (see how to keep score with a Cribbage board). If you don’t have a Cribbage board, or you’re playing with more than three individual players (since most Cribbage boards have three scoring tracks at most), you’ll probably have to use pencil and paper or something like that.
Shuffle and deal three cards, face down, to each player. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low.
Rondas and rondines
Before any cards are played, the players look at their cards and may declare any pairs or three-of-a-kinds that they may have. A pair is declared as a ronda and a three-of-a-kind as a rondine. The ranks of the rondas and rondines are not declared. The hand is then played out, and the player with the highest ronda or rondine scores a bonus, as follows:
A rondine always outranks a ronda. That is, three aces, the lowest rondine, outranks a pair of kings, the highest ronda. Only the highest declaration scores a bonus; the others score nothing. Any ties go to whichever player is first in turn order, going clockwise from the dealer. The ronda/rondine bonus is not scored until the set of three cards is played out. This means it’s possible the game may end before the bonus is scored.
Play of the hand
After any declarations have been made, the player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player must play one card, face-up, to the table. If there are any cards already on the table of the same rank, the player captures one card of that rank, and they place the captured card along with the card that they played in a face-down won-cards pile in front of them. (If there is a pair of cards on the board and a player holds a third card of that rank, they capture only one of the table cards, not both.)
A player can also capture a sequence of two or more consecutive cards if the card that they play to the table matches the lowest card of the sequence. For example, if a 7, 8, 9, and 10 are all on the table, a player may capture them all by playing a 7. For the purposes of sequences, aces are considered consecutive to kings, so if the table contained Q-K-A-2, it would be a sequence that could be captured by a jack.
If a player can make no captures, the card they play simply remains on the table. That card can then be captured by any player on a later turn. (Depending on the card being played, the card may score for being played in place, as described below.)
When the players have exhausted their hands, the dealer replenishes them by dealing three more cards to each player from the stock. Any cards already on the table stay there, and play continues.
Occasionally, a player may be able to capture all of the cards off the table in one fell swoop. This is called a limpia. The simplest limpia occurs when there is one card on the table, and the player captures it by pairing. If there are more cards than that, the only way a limpia can happen is if they all form a sequence.
A player making a limpia immediately scores the same point value as a ronda of the last rank of the sequence captured in the limpia (or the rank of the card captured, if only one card was involved). Note that the last rank is not necessarily the highest rank. For example, if a sequence of K-A-2-3-4 is captured as a limpia, it would only score one point. This is because the 4 is the last rank in the sequence. The fact that a king is involved, despite its higher rank, is irrelevant.
Playing in place
If a player places an ace through 4 on the table without capturing anything, and the pip value of that card matches the number of cards on the table, that card is said to be played in place. That is, a card is played in place if it is an ace played to an empty table, a 2 as the second card on the table, a 3 as the third card on the table, or a 4 as the fourth card on the table. A 5 or above cannot be played in place. Playing a card in place scores the player the pip value of the card.
If a card could both be played in place or capture a card, a player can choose to forgo the capture in order to play it in place. This is the only situation in which a player is not compelled to take a capture.
Once per hand, after dealing three cards to the players, the dealer may deal a tendido (layout). This can occur after the first three cards have been dealt, or after any time the dealer replenishes the player’s hands. When the dealer chooses to deal their tendido, they deal two pairs of cards, face up in a horizontal row, to the table. The two cards in each pair may be swapped, but cards cannot be crossed between the two pairs.
The dealer counts from left to right or right to left, as desired, to find any cards that appear in their “correct” places in the tendido: an ace in the first position, a 2 in the second, etc. If any cards have been so dealt, the dealer scores the pip value of the card. Also, if any pairs, three- or four-of-a-kinds have been formed within all of the cards now on the table, the dealer may score for them. The points scored equal the same as a ronda or rondine of the appropriate rank. Four-of-a-kinds score twice as much as a rondine of that rank.
The cards of the tendido remain on the table after being scored and can be captured just like any other card on the table.
If a player places a card on the table without capturing anything, and the next player in turn plays a card of the same rank, it is called a porrazo. If the next player plays a third card of this same rank, then this is a counter-porrazo. If a porrazo is allowed to stand, that player immediately scores the same value as a ronda of the appropriate rank and captures the card, as normal. Should a player counter-porrazo, the original porrazo does not score, the counter-porrazo scores the same value as a rondine of the appropriate rank, and the player captures both the non-capturing card and the card played for the porrazo.
After a counter-porrazo has been played, the next player may be able to play the fourth card of that rank. This is called a san benito and scores the player the entire game! Therefore, especially in a two-player game, it may be better to simply let a porrazo stand rather than countering it and risking the san benito. (One can sometimes use players’ ronda declarations to deduce whether a san benito may be possible.)
A porrazo (or a counter-porrazo or san benito) must take place with cards all from the same deal. That is, if the players run out of cards and new cards are dealt, it interrupts the sequence of play, and any porrazo cannot be declared using cards from before the hands were replenished.
Ending the hand
If playing with an even number of players, the deck will, at some point, be exhausted. If playing with an odd number of players, there will be three odd cards left in the deck. These three cards are placed face up on the table immediately after the last three-card hands are dealt to the players. They do not count as a tendido for the dealer.
After the players’ hands are exhausted, on the dealer’s last turn, they automatically capture all of the cards remaining on the table. This does not count as a limpia, even if they would have been able to legitimately capture it as one.
Each player or partnership counts the number of cards in their captured-cards pile. Whoever has the highest number of captured cards wins the hand. They score the difference between the number of cards they captured and that of their next-closest opponent.
The deal passes to the left, and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one player or partnership reaches a score of 61 or more points. Play immediately ceases—even if it happens in the middle of a hand—and that player is the winner.
Totit is an extremely simple fishing game from the Indonesian island of Java. It can be played by two to six people. In Totit, it’s all about making pairs—while pairs of the same rank can be captured, only pairs of identical copies of the same card score!
Object of Totit
The object of Totit is to capture the most cards from the board by pairing them with the corresponding cards from your hand.
Totit uses a special 60-card deck. To build such a deck, start with two standard 52-card decks of the same back design and color—we always use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, naturally. From each deck, remove the aces through 10s of clubs. From the other three suits, remove the 10s and face cards. You’ll be left with two 30-card decks consisting of A–9♠, A–9♦, A–9♥, and J-Q-K♣. Shuffle these two 30-card decks together to form the full 60-card deck. (Note that this is the same deck used for Kowah, another Javanese card game.) You should also have something handy to keep score with.
Shuffle and deal eighteen cards face up to the table. Then, deal seven cards to each player, or eleven cards to each player in a two-player game. Set aside any unused cards; they will have no bearing on the game.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. If they have any cards identical in rank and suit to any of the cards on the table, they may capture the table card by revealing the matching card in their hand. They then place both cards in a face-down captured-cards pile in front of them. A capture must always consist of one card from the hand and one from the table. Players can never capture a card with another one from the table. Players may only make one capture per turn. If a player cannot make a capture, they must trail one card of their choice face up to the table. The turn then passes to the left.
On the second and subsequent turns, a player may capture a card if they hold a card of the same rank as a card on the table, regardless of suit. All of the face cards and aces are considered to be equivalent to one another. The A♠ can be captured by the K♣ and vice versa, the J♣ and Q♣ can capture each other, and so on.
One special restriction occurs when two cards of the same rank and suit appear alongside one or more cards of that rank, but a different suit. In this case, any cards of the odd suit must be captured first. Only when the two identical cards are the only cards of that rank left on the table can one be captured.
Ending the hand
The hand ends when the players’ hands are depleted. Any cards remaining on the table are discarded. Each player scores one point for each pair of captured cards of the same rank and suit. (Note that they need not necessarily have been captured with each other. Both cards could have been on the table at the same time and captured one at a time by different cards, or the first one captured early on, and the second trailed by another player and then captured, for instance.)
The deal passes to the left, and game play continues. The game ends when every player has dealt once. Whichever player has the highest score at that point wins the game.
Stealing Bundles is a game from the same fishing family as Cassino. It is played with two players. Players collect cards from the board with cards from their hand of the same rank. But if you happen to have another card of the same rank as the one your opponent just captured, you’re in luck, because then you can capture every card they’d collected up to that point!
Because of the simple game play and how one lucky card can radically change the game, there’s not a lot of strategy to Stealing Bundles. However, that makes it an excellent game to play with a young child. It can be used as a fun way to introduce kids to card games and the idea of forming pairs of cards. By the time they’re old enough to add, they might find Cassino more engaging.
Object of Stealing Bundles
The object of Stealing Bundles is to capture more cards than your opponent by pairing cards from your hand with those on the board and the card your opponent most recently paired.
Stealing Bundles requires one 52-card deck of playing cards. If you’re playing with a youngster, you could probably use the durability of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards even more than usual.
The non-dealer plays first. They examine their hand and the four board cards. If a card from their hand forms a pair with a card from the center of the table, they may capture that card. This is done by revealing the card from their hand, collecting the board card, and putting both cards face-up into a stack in front of them. This pile is called the player’s bundle. (Every capture a player makes is added to the same bundle pile.) Should there be multiple cards of the same rank on the board, one card from the hand can capture every card of that rank.
If a player cannot capture any cards on a turn, they discard one card, face up, to the board. This is known as trailing. After either making a capture or trailing, a player’s turn ends.
After a player’s opponent has started a bundle, the player may capture the bundle by revealing a card of the same rank as the top card of the bundle. By doing so, the player captures every card in the opponent’s bundle, adding them all to their own bundle pile!
After four turns, the players will have exhausted their hands. Deal four new cards from the stock to each player (but not the board). Continue refreshing the players’ hands every four turns until the stock is depleted. When the stock runs out, each player continues playing cards until they are unable to make any more plays. Each player then counts up the number of cards in their bundle. Whoever has more cards (i.e. whoever has more than 26 cards) wins.
Paks is a game in the same fishing family as Cassino. Unlike many of the other games in that family, however, Paks can support up to six players. Two or three players play as individuals, while four or six play in two- or three-player teams, respectively. (It cannot be played by five.)
Phil Laurence, a structural engineer and nuclear power expert, is the inventor of Paks. Game collector and author Sid Sackson helped Laurence to clean up its rules, and like Mate, he spread Paks to a wider audience by including it in his 1969 compendium A Gamut of Games. Sackson praised the game’s “delightful originality” and declared it “could easily start a craze”.
Object of Paks
The object of Paks is to be the first to score 500 or more points. This is done by forming combinations of cards called paks. Paks are formed by using cards from the hand to capture cards from the table. A player may also steal their opponents’ paks.
Paks uses a standard 52-card deck when played by two players and a 104-card deck, formed by shuffling two 52-card decks together, when played by three or more. It’s not necessary to ensure that the backs are the same, so a two-deck set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is all you need for a larger game. You will also need pencil and paper to keep score with.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. This player begins by drawing one card from the stock and revealing it to the other players. If it is of a suit that isn’t represented on the board, the player must play it to the board. This action, called feeding the table, ends their turn.
If it the card drawn is the same suit as one of the board cards, the player adds it to their hand. Then, their turn proceeds as follows: they may form one pak, then, if they do, they may steal one or more paks from their opponents.
When there is at least one card of each suit on the board, it is called a full table. In these situations, a player does not have to show their drawn card to the other players. However, they are compelled to make a pak, if able. If they are not, they must reveal their hand to their opponents and their turn ends.
If the player can add the drawn card to their hand, they then have the opportunity to capture a card from the board. This is done by playing one or more cards of the same suit that have a higher combined value than the card captured. For the purposes of capturing, the cards have the following value:
- Ace—20 points
- K, Q, J—10 points
- all other single cards—face value
- 5-5—55 points*
- 5-4—54 points
- 5-3—53 points
- 5-2—52 points
- 4-4—44 points*
- 4-3—43 points
- 4-2—42 points
- 3-3—33 points*
- 3-2—32 points
- 2-2—22 points
*There is only one card per rank in each suit in a two-player game. Therefore, the pairs, denoted above with an asterisk, are not available in two-player games.
For example, to capture the J♦, worth ten points, the player must play any combination of cards with a value of eleven or greater. Therefore, the A♦ alone (20 points) will do it, K-2♦ (10 + 2 = 12 points), 9-4♦ (9 + 4 = 13 points), or even a combination such as 5-5♦ (55 points) or 3-2♦ (32 points).
Upon capturing a card, the player places it, plus all of the cards from the hand used to capture it, face-up on the table in front of them. They overlap the cards slightly to allow all of their indices to be seen. This group of cards is called a pak.
If a player already has a pak of the same suit as the new one, the two are kept separate. They do not combine the new pak with the existing one.
If a player forms a pak on their turn, they may steal one or more paks from the other players. A pak is stolen the same way as a single board card is captured: by playing one or more cards that have a combined value higher than that of the pak.
The value of a pak is calculated by adding together the values of each of the individual cards. Combinations in the pak now count as their singleton values. For example, a consider a pak that was formed by capturing the A♣ (20 points) with the 5-2♣ (52 points). The value of this pak is only 27 points (20 + 5 + 2), not the 72 points that one would get by continuing to count the 5-2 combination as 52 points.
A player may not steal any paks of the same suit as the pak they formed at the beginning of the turn. Additionally, a player may not steal paks of the same suit from multiple players. The only time a player may steal more than one pak of the same suit is if they all belong to the same player. In this case, the player need only play a combination of cards with a value greater than the total value of the paks they wish to capture. A player does not have to be able to steal each pak singly. For example, if a player holds 10-5-2♠, this is 62 points, more than enough to steal an opponent’s paks of K-7♠ and 9-6♠, which have a combined value of 32 points.
When a player steals multiple paks of the same suit, they combine all of the cards stolen and the cards used to steal them into one big pak. (Using the example in the previous paragraph, the player would now have a pak of K-10-9-7-6-5-2♠, with a value of 49 points.) If a player already had paks of that suit, however, the pre-existing paks are kept separate from the new one.
A player may steal paks from teammates in four- or six-player games. However, there is usually little reason to do so.
Ending the hand
Game play stops when the stock is exhausted. The player drawing the last card takes their turn as normal, and the hand ends after their turn. In a partnership game, each of the partnerships now move their paks so that they are together in front of one of the players. They do not, however, combine the paks together. Each player simply discards the cards in their hand, which take no part in scoring.
Each player or team counts the number of each paks that they held of each suit. The lowest number of paks held in each suit is then noted. The players or teams must then choose that number of paks of that suit and discard them. For example, at the end of a game, Alpha has four paks in hearts, Bravo has three, and Charlie has one. Each of them must choose one heart pak to discard.
The players or teams then calculate their score for the hand by adding the values of their remaining cards. For the purposes of scoring, the cards count as follows:
- Aces—20 points.
- Kings through 8s—10 points each.
- 7s and below—5 points each.
The scorekeeper then records these hand scores on the scoresheet.
The deal then passes to the left, and another hand is played. Game play continues until one of the players or teams scores 500 or more points, winning the game. In the event of a tie at 500 or more, tiebreaker hands are played as necessary.
Escoba is a Spanish game in the “fishing” family that plays very similarly to the Italian game Scopa. Escoba is popular in Spain, Argentina, and Chile, and can be played with two to four players. The four-handed game may be played either as a partnership game or with four individual players. Escoba is Spanish for broom, probably referring to the “sweep” that occurs when a player takes all of the cards on the board.
Object of Escoba
The object of Escoba is to capture cards from the table with a combined value of fifteen.
Escoba is traditionally played with a 40-card Spanish deck, with suits of batons, coins, cups, and swords and rey (king), caballo (horse), and sota (jack) as court cards. An equivalent deck can be made by removing all of the 8s, 9s, and 10s from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, leaving a 40-card deck with the king, queen, jack, ace, and 2 through 7 in each of the four suits. Diamonds take on the role the coin suit plays in the Spanish game; the suits are otherwise irrelevant.
You will also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper, or a replica of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
If playing a four-handed game with partnerships, players on the same partnership should sit directly across from each other, so that when going around the table players alternate partnerships.
Shuffle and deal three cards, face down, to each player. After all players have received their hands, deal four cards, face up, to the center of the table. The remainder of the deck becomes the stock.
Each card in Escoba has a numerical value for the purposes of capturing. Kings are worth ten, queens are worth nine, and jacks are worth eight. Aces are worth one. All other cards are worth their face value.
In the event that all of the board cards have a value totaling fifteen, all of the cards are immediately captured by the dealer, who scores for an escoba. If the board cards total 30, the dealer scores for two escobas (see below).
Game play in Escoba begins with the player to the dealer’s right and continues on to the right, the opposite of most other games. On their turn, each player simply places one card face-up on the table. If the value of the card played plus any of the other cards already on the table equals exactly fifteen, the player captures those cards. The captured cards, as well as the card used to perform the capture, are all moved to a face-down score pile in front of the player (if playing with partnerships, one score pile is formed from the captured cards of both players on the partnership).
If all of the cards on the table are captured at once, this is called an escoba (sweep). To record the escoba, the capturing card is placed face-up in the score pile .
After three rounds of play, each player will have run out of cards. Three more cards are then dealt from the stock to each player. Play continues in this manner, with more cards dealt to each player after every three rounds, until the deck is depleted. Play continues until each player’s hands are empty. Any remaining cards on the table are scored for the last player to successfully perform a capture (but this does not count as an escoba).
At the end of the hand, the score piles are examined to determine the score for the hand:
- collecting the most cards*
- collecting the most diamonds*
- capturing the siete de velo (7♦)
- la setenta (see below)
- one point for each escoba
*In the event that the players are tied for the most cards in these categories, neither player gets the point.
In order to be eligible for la setenta, a player must have collected cards of all four suits. A player then finds the highest-scoring card in each suit according to the following ranking: (high) 7, 6, A, 5, 4, 3, 2, face cards (low). Setentas are compared as in poker, with the highest card compared first, then going to the second-highest card in case of a tie, and so on.
After scoring, the deal is passed to the right. The game ends when a player or partnership has reached 21 points; whoever has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, keep playing until the tie is broken.
Last week, we shared the rules of Cassino with you. Scopa is a similar game, found in the same “fishing” family as Cassino, although it is much simpler than the latter game. Scopa, meaning sweep in Italian, was described by David Parlett in The Penguin Book of Card Games as “one of Italy’s major national card games”. Like Cassino, Scopa is best for two players.
Object of Scopa
The object of Scopa is to use the cards in your hand to capture cards on the table, with particular attention given to nabbing certain high-scoring cards.
Scopa requires a 40-card deck of playing cards. Traditionally, an Italian deck is used, with suits of swords in place of spades, batons instead of clubs, cups instead of hearts, and coins instead of diamonds. The Italian deck used for Scopa also has different face card ranks: re (king), cavall (knight), and fante (footsoldier). You can create an equivalent pack by taking a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and removing the 8s, 9s, and 10s; the English queen will substitute for the knight, and the jack for the footsoldier. It does not matter that the suits don’t match up; suits generally do not matter in Scopa, although diamonds take on the role of coins in the Italian game.
You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal three cards to each player, then deal four more face up to the center of the table. The remainder of the deck forms the stock. If three or more of the four board cards are kings, it is customary to abandon the hand, throw in the cards, and deal again.
The non-dealer plays first. 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 a card from the hand with a card matching in rank. The card captures only one other card of that rank on the board. (This is unlike in Cassino, where one card may capture as many as three others of the same rank.)
The second way of capturing 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, numerical cards as their face value, jacks as eight, queens as nine, and kings as ten. If a card can perform a capture by both pairing or by addition, the pairing takes precedence and must be performed rather than performing an addition capture. It is possible to clear the entire board of cards, called a sweep or scopa; this is recorded by putting the card performing in the sweep face-up in the score pile.
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.
Every third turn, the players exhaust their hands; new three-card hands are dealt from the stock. The board does not receive any further cards, and the cards already on the board remain in play.
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, even if the player actually captured all of the cards on the board. The hand is then scored, with players awarded one point for each of the following, in order:
- collecting the most cards overall*
- collecting the most diamonds*
- capturing the sette bello (7♦)
- primiera (see below)
- 1 point for each sweep
*In the event that the players are tied for the most cards in these categories, neither player gets the point.
In order to be eligible for primiera, a player must have collected cards of all four suits. A player then finds the highest-scoring card in each suit according to the following list, and adds up the total of all four cards:
- a 7—21 points
- a 6—18 points
- an ace—16 points
- a 5—15 points
- a 4—14 points
- a 3—13 points
- a 2—12 points
- a face card—10 points
The player with the higher count by this reckoning scores the point for primiera.
The first player to score eleven points wins. Points should be added in the order listed above, and whenever the first player reaches eleven points, scoring ceases, with the remaining categories going unscored.
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.