A standard deck of cards (no Jokers)
2 to 4 players
Deal four cards to each player and deal four cards to the middle and spread them in a line, face-up. The traditional way to deal Casino is two-by-two, to each player and the middle.
The first turn goes to the player to the left of the dealer and continues clockwise. Each player makes a play with one card from his hand in an attempt to capture as many cards as possible. The player must turn the card he plays face-up and place it on the table in view of all players before it is used to build or capture. The possible plays are as follows:
- Capturing a card by pairing: A card from the player’s hand matches the rank (number) of a face-up card in the middle. The player places his card down and then collects the matching pair for counting at the end of the game.
- Capturing cards by combining: A player can capture numerical cards (Ace to 10 — not face cards) in combination if the value of the cards adds up to the value of a card in the player’s hand. For instance, a player with an 8 could capture a 6 and 2.
- Capturing cards by pairing and combining: A player can execute the above two moves simultaneously if the middle cards support the maneuver. For example, if a player has a 9 and the board shows a 5, 4 and 9, then he may take the combination (5 and 4) and the pair (9) at once.
- Building: A player may build a combination on a middle pile by adding one of the cards from his hand, if he has the card that the new combination will add up to. For example, if there is a 2 in the middle and a player has a 6 and 8 in his hand, he can place the 6 on the 2 and declare, “building eight.” The player who does this may not capture the cards from this build until his next turn. If any of the other players has an 8, he may steal this build before it gets back around to the original player. Face cards cannot be part of builds.
- Building on builds: A player may build upon another player’s build if he has a card that will total the value of the three cards in the build. In the above example, a player with a 9 and Ace could build Ace, 6, and 2 and declare “building nine.” Similarly, the player must wait a turn to capture this build if no other player does first.
- Trailing: If a player cannot capture any cards, or for strategic reasons wants to lay off a card, he may play a card face-up in the middle. Other players may then capture or utilize this card.
The dealer replenishes the hands of the players after each round, but not the middle cards.
There are multiple ways to score points in Casino. Generally, capturing many cards is a good way to end up with many points. Points are scored for having the following in your card pile:
Majority of cards (27 or more): 3 points
Majority of spades (7 or more): 1 point
Big Casino (the 10♦): 2 points
Little Casino (the 2♠): 1 point
Aces (each): 1 point
For the first two benchmarks, if no one achieves the minimum number, the points are not awarded. The first player to reach 21 points is the winner.
Too complicated for the little ones?
Try a young children’s version of this game, Stealing Bundles. In this simplified version, players can only capture cards by pairing. Captured cards are kept face up. A player can steal another’s captured-cards pile if he plays a card that matches the top one on the stack. The winner is the player who ends up with more than half the cards.
Card games are timeless fun for the whole family. The Ultimate Book of Card Games, by Scott McNeely, is sure to offer fun to all ages, households and people who have a pack of cards and time to kill. Get this perfect gift for the game lover in your life here.