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Nordic Casino

This page is based on information from Martin Sorensson of Bästa Casino Bonus and from Cristian Seres.

Introduction

This page is about the versions of the fishing card game Casino that are played in Nordic countries, specifically the variants played in Sweden and Finland. As in all fishing games, the table is seen as an ocean containing a number of face up cards representing fish. During the game the players catch these fish by playing matching cards from their hands.

These Nordic Casino games can be considered as versions of Royal Casino, since the King, Queen and Jack have numerical capture values. They are usually played without building. The aim is to score points by capturing as many valuable cards as possible. There are points for having most cards, most Spades, and extra points for the diamond10, the spade2 and the four Aces. There are also points for emptying the table, and a reward for being the last player to capture a card.

Apart from the positive games described on this page, there is an interesting negative version where the objective is reversed. The aim is to avoid capturing scoring cards. That game is described separately on the Krypkasino page.

Kasino in Sweden

Players and Cards

The game works best with 2, 3 or 4 players. A standard 52-card pack is used.

Cards have numerical values for the purpose of capturing. The cards from 2 to 10 have a capture value equal to their face value. Jacks have a capture value of 11, Queens 12 and Kings 13. Aces have a capture value of 1 or 14 at the choice of the player.

Deal and play are clockwise.

Deal

Any convenient method can be used to decide who deals first. Usually each player draws a card from the deck and whoever draws the highest card deals first. The dealer shuffles and the player to dealer's right cuts.

The cards are dealt in pairs: first two cards face down to each player, starting at dealer's left and continuing clockwise, then two cards face up to the table, then another two cards to each player and two more face up to the table. So each player has a hand of 4 cards and there are 4 cards face up on the table.

The remaining cards are temporarily set aside in a face down stack. When everyone has played their four cards, the same dealer deals another four more cards to each player, two at a time as before, but no new cards are dealt to the table. When these cards have been played four more cards each are dealt, and this process is repeated until all the cards have been dealt.

  • With two players there will be six deals: 52 = 4 + (2×4) × 6.
  • With three players there will be four deals: 52 = 4 + (3×4) × 4.
  • With four players there will be three deals: 52 = 4 + (4×4) × 3.

When the last cards have been dealt and played, the hand is scored, all the cards are gathered together, and the turn to deal passes to the left.

Play

The player to dealer's left, and the turn to play passes clockwise.

At your turn to play you always play one card from your hand to the table.

  • Sometimes your play captures a card or cards from the table. In that case you take the card that you played and the cards you captured and keep them beside you in your pile of captured cards, to be counted when all the cards have been played. Captured cards are stored face down except in case of a tabbe (see below).
  • Sometimes you do not capture any cards. In this case the card you played remains face up on the table alongside the cards that were already there, and may be captured by you or by another player in a later turn.

After you have played a card and captured any cards you can and wish to take with it, the turn passes to the next player to the left.

A played card can capture:

  1. A card on the table of the same capture value, or
  2. A set of cards on the table whose capture values add up to the capture value of the played card, or
  3. Several cards or sets of cards that satisfy conditions 1 and/or 2 above.

Captures are not compulsory. Normally you will want to take as many cards as you can with the card you have played, but it is legal and can sometimes be advantageous to leave behind some cards or sets that could have been captured, or even just to leave your played card on the table, taking nothing at all even though you could have made a capture.

Some examples:

  1. On the table is the 7, 5, 9, Q, and the player has 2, 9, 10, K in hand. The player can play his 9 to take the 9 from the table.
  2. The table cards are the same 5, 7, 9, Q, but the player now has 2, 8, 10, K in hand. No capture is possible, so the only possibility is to play any one of the four cards and leave it on the table, which will then contain five cards.
  3. The table cards are club2, diamond3, diamond7, heartA. The player has diamondQ and diamond4 in her hand. The player can capture the 2, 3 and 7 with her Queen, or the A and 3 with her four. The second alternative should be the preferred game because the Ace is worth a point.
  4. There are spade2, spade3, spade7 and clubA on the table. The player has spadeQ and diamond4 in hand. The player will probably prefer to play the spade Queen to collect the 2, 3 and 7. Having the majority of spades at the end of the game is worth two points, the spade2 itself is worth a point, and taking more cards may also help towards scoring for the majority of cards.
  5. There are spade9, diamond4, club3 and club2 on the table. The player has the diamond9 in his hand. The player can then use the 9 to take all the cards from the table: the diamond9 matches the spade9 and the 4 + 3 + 2 also add up to 9.
  6. If the table cards are 2, 3, 5, 8 and you play a 10, you can take 2+3+5 or 2+8 but not all four cards. The 2 can be used in one captured set or the other, but not both at the same time.
  7. If the table cards are A, 4, 9, K and you have an Ace and a King in your hand you could use your King to take 4+9 and King, leaving the Ace. But a better option could be to play your Ace as a 14 and count the table Ace as a 1, taking the A, 4 and 9 from the table (1+4+9 = 14).

Tabbe

If a player captures all the cards from the table, leaving it empty, this is called a tabbe (equivalent to a sweep in Anglo-American Casino), which is worth an extra point. The next player will have no option but to play a card to the empty table, capturing nothing.

To keep track of the number of tabbar (sweeps) made by each player, the card which makes the capture is placed face up in your pile of captured cards, rotated so that the card remains visible, and the cards captured from the table are stacked face down on top of it.

Examples:

  1. There are a 3, 6 and 9 on the table. In your hand you have a 9. You use your 9 to take 3 + 6 and 9, leaving the table empty and scoring a tabbe.
  2. The table cards are 9 and 5. The player before you captures the 9 with a 9 leaving only the 5. It is your turn and you have 5 in your hand. You play the 5, taking the 5 from the table and leaving it empty. You have made a tabbe and the player after you must simply put a card on the table.
  3. The table cards are A, A, 2, 4, 6. You have A, K, and 3 in your hand. You can capture all the table cards with your Ace, counting it as 14 and both table Aces as 1 (1+1+2+4+6 = 14).
  4. The table cards are spadeA, clubA. You have diamondA and heart2 in your hand. You can use either of your cards to clear the table. Since an Ace is worth a point, you get more immediate points by taking the aces with your Ace. However, it may be wiser to save your Ace for later and take the two Aces on the table with your heart2 instead. If you keep the Ace it may bring in several more cards when played as a 14, whereas if you keep your 2 it is less likely to capture anything.
  5. The table cards are spadeA, diamondA, club5, club8. You have an Ace in your hand. Because Aces can be either 1 or 14 you can take all the table cards. Count the Ace you play as 14, one of the table Aces as 14 and the other as 1. So your Ace takes 14 and also 1+5+8=14 and you will score three points for Aces plus one for the tabbe.

End of play

When all four players have played their cards, the dealer deals another four cards each from the remaining deck, two at a time, as described above. Any face up on the table remain in place and available for capture: no new face up cards are dealt to the table.

When dealing the last cards to the players, leaving the deck empty, the dealer should warn everyone by saying "sistan" (last) or "båt" (boat). When these last cards have been played, any cards remaining face up on the table are added to the capture pile of the last player who made a capture. This player also scores 1 point for sistan - see below.

If the dealer's last card captures all the cards on the table, the dealer will score two points: 1 for sistan and 1 for a tabbe. If the dealer's last card makes a capture but does not capture all the table cards, the dealer just scores 1 point for sistan: this does not count as a tabbe even though making the last capture entitles the dealer to take the remaining table cards as well.

Examples:

  1. The dealer's last card is a 9. There are no more cards to be dealt and there is a 9 and a 2 on the table. The dealer plays the 9, captures the 9 from the table. Since there are no more cards to play the dealer also takes the 2 and scores a point for sistan.
  2. The table cards are 2, 7, 8, 10 ,K and the last three players each have just one one card in their hands. The first player plays a King, capturing the King from the table. The second player has a 3 which captures nothing so he plays it, leaving 2, 3, 7, 8, 10 on the table. The last player (the dealer) has an Ace, which also captures nothing, so he plays it to the table. There are no more cards to deal, and the last capture was made by the first player's King. This player therefore collects the six cards A, 2, 3, 7, 8, 10 and also gets a point for sistan.

Scoring

When the play is finished, the players count their points according the cards they have captured, as follows.

  • Whoever has most spades scores 2 points.
  • Whoever has most cards scores 1 point.
  • Each Ace scores 1 point.
  • The 10 of diamonds (known as storan - the big one) scores 2 points.
  • The 2 of spades (known as lillan - the small one) scores 1 point.
  • Making the last capture (sistan) scores 1 point.
  • Each tabbe (sweep) scores 1 point.

So the total number of points, excluding points for sweeps, is normally 11.

However, if two or more players tie for most spades or for most cards, those points are not awarded.

After the scores have been recorded the next player shuffles and deals. It is usual to play to a target score, for example the winner is the first player to achieve a total score of 16 or more points. If two or more players reach 16 or more points, the player with most points wins. If there is a tie for most points, the player with most spades wins.

Tactics

To be good at Kasino, you need to learn which cards should be captured and which can safely be left on the table.

In general it is a bad idea to leave scoring cards (storan, lillan, Aces) on the table. If you are going to 'trail' - play a card without capturing, it is better not to play trail a spade if there is a reasonable alternative. It is sometimes best to trail a card of a rank that has already been played. For example if someone has just captured an 8 with an 8, playing another 8 is unlikely to help your opponents.

If you have a non-spade 2 in your hand, it may be good to hold onto it in case the player before you eventually has to play the lillan, which you can capture. The same applies to a non-diamond 10, which might capture the storan.

Remember that you are not obliged to capture all the cards that you can: sometimes there is a tactical advantage in leaving behind some cards that could have been taken.

Examples:

  1. spadeQ, club9, diamond7 and diamond2 are on the table, and the next player holds diamondQ and diamond9. Because the majority of spades is worth 2 points while the majority of cards is worth only 1, taking the spadeQ from the table may be better than capturing three cards with the diamond9.
  2. On the table are club2, spade3, spade4 and a King. The player holds the spade2 (lillan) and spade9. Here it may be worth taking 2, 3 and 4 with the 9 rather than capturing the club2k with the lillan. The first option captures three spades and four cards increases the chances winning both the spades and the cards for a total of 3 points. Which option is better is a matter of judgment and depends on how many cards are still to be played and what has been captured up to now.
  3. Three players are playing. A player has diamond10 and spade10 in his hand and on the table are 2, 5, 8, Q. If the other two players have already played without taking these cards, our player can be fairly confident that neither of them has a 10 or a Queen. Instead of capturing the 8 + 2 with the diamond10 (storan), our player could risk playing the spade10 and leaving it on the table, hoping to capture the 8 + 2 and the 10s with the storan at his next turn, thus capturing an extra card and an extra spade. This kind of tactic should be used with caution, and only when you are sure that an opponent is not sitting on any card that could ruin the plan.
  4. On the table are 3, 5, 7, Q, and you have a Queen in your hand. If you think the next player may have a 3, you might play your Queen and just capture the 5 and 7 from the table. You leave behind the Queen that you could have captured along with the 3 to prevent the next player from scoring a tabbe.

Variations

Överspader
In this widespread variation, in order to get points for spades it is necessary to capture more than six spades. 1 point is scored for each spade taken in excess of six - for example 1 point for 7 spades, 4 points for 10 spades, and so on. This variant is usually played to a higher target of 21 points rather than 16.
Two decks
Kasino is sometimes played with two decks of cards shuffled together (104 cards). If possible the two decks should have identical backs.
Different target scores
Various target scores can be chosen, for example 11 points, 21 points or even 50 points, depending whether a longer or a shorter game is preferred. Some play that if two players reach the target and tie for highest score, more deals are played until a unique winner is found.

Kasino in Finland

The game of Kasino which is popular in Finland is similar to the Swedish game described above, but with a few differences. Kasino is commonly played by 2 people, but 3 or 4 can also play. A 52-card pack is used and as usual the deal is 4 cards each and 4 to the table, 2 at a time, with a further deal of 4 each when the hands are exhausted.

  • Kings have a capture value of 13, Queens 12, Jacks 11, 2-10 face value.
  • An Ace has a capture value of 1 on the table, but 14 when played from hand. Therefore an Ace cannot capture a single Ace.
  • The spade2 (Small Kasino) has a capture value of 2 on the table, but when played from hand it has a capture value of 15.
  • The diamond10 (Big Kasino) has a capture value of 10 on the table but 16 when played from hand.

The scores are:

  • majority of cards: 1 point (not scored if there is a tie)
  • majority of spades: 2 points (shared if there is a two-way tie in a 3- or 4-player game)
  • each Ace: 1 point
  • spade2 (Small Kasino): 1 point
  • diamond10 (Big Kasino): 2 points

That makes 10 points in each hand (if there are no ties) - unlike the Swedish game, in Finnish Kasino there is no extra point for making the last capture. There is an extra point for each sweep, known in Finnish as a mökki (hut), and recorded by turning one card face up in the player's captured card pile. If all players (or teams) have a sweep, they cancel (each player/team loses one sweep). This can make a difference when nearing the end of a game.

In Finnish Kasino, there are no points for sweeps after the dealer deals out the last 4 cards to each player. Also, if any player has a score of 10 or more, there are no more points for sweeps.

The first player to 16 points wins. For this purpose, points for Aces and the Big and Small Kasino are awarded as soon as they are captured, so the game can finish in the middle of a hand. The points for cards and spades cannot be claimed until all the cards have been played. The scores are then totalled and if any player has 16 or more the player with the highest score wins. In case of a tie, Aces, Small and Big Casino are counted first, then if there is still a tie, spades are counted, and finally cards.

This archive copy of Cristian Seres' Kasino page has rules, variations and some advice on Finnish Kasino.

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