Royal Casino

Introduction

Royal Casino is the usual English name for versions of Casino in which the picture cards have a numerical value: Jacks 11, Queens 12, Kings 13 and Aces 1 or 14. As in other versions of Casino the aim is to capture cards from a layout on the table by playing a card from hand which matches in number a table card or the sum of several table cards.

Although Royal Casino is not so common in Britain and North America, this is the usual form of Casino in some other countries. On this page I describe the version played in the Dominican Republic and a few other variants. In some versions of Royal Casino played in Southern Africa, cards can be stolen from opponents' capture piles: these are described on the African Casino page. In Nordic countries the usual version of Casino (Kasino) is a form of Royal Casino without building: this is described on the Nordic Casino page.

Casino in the Dominican Republic

This version of Royal Casino, explained to me by Humbernio Lockward, differs from the Anglo-American game in several ways. The restrictions on building and capturing and the scoring of sweeps is slightly different, and most importantly there is a change to the scoring when a player or team nears the target score of 21.

Players and Cards

In the Dominican Republic Casino is usually played by two people, but it is also possible for 3 or 4 to play. 4 players play in fixed partnerships with partners sitting across from each other. A standard 52-card pack is used. The deal and play are counter-clockwise.

Kings have a capture value of 13, Queens = 12, and Jacks = 11. Number cards have their numerical value. Aces count as 1 or 14 at the discretion of the player. This means that an Ace can capture other Aces as well as any build and/or group(s) of loose cards that equal 14, any of which may contain 1 or more Aces. For example: An Ace can capture an 8, 5, and A on the layout. 8 + 5 + 1 = 14.

Deal

Initially four cards are dealt to each player and four separate cards face up to the centre of the table. When all players have played the cards they were dealt, the same dealer deals four more cards to each player from the remaining deck and play continues. Any cards that are face up on the table remain in place but no more cards are dealt to the table. When the deck is exhausted and all cards have been played the hand is scored and the turn to deal passes to the right.

Play

The player to dealer's right begins, and players play in turn anticlockwise around the table. At your turn you must play exactly one card from your hand face up to the table. This played card can be used in three possible ways.

Capture ("Captura" or "Cojer")
The played card may capture one or more face up cards from the table. It can capture individual cards of equal value to the played card and sets of cards whose values add up to the value of the played card, provided that these cards are not parts of any build. It can also capture complete builds whose value is equal to that of the played card. The played card together with the captured card or cards are added to the (face down) pile of cards that the player or team has captured.
Build ("Forma")
The played card can be combined with a card or cards on the table, forming a pile that can only be captured as a unit. In a single build the capture value of the build is the sum of the capture values of the cards in it - for example 7+6 is a single build of 13 that can be captured by a King. A multiple build consists of two or more cards or sets of cards with the same capture value. For example a multiple build of 9 could consist of 6, 3, 7, 2, 8, A (6+3=7+2=8+1=9) or of 9, 5, 4 or simply of two 9's. The owner of a build is the player who most recently added a card to it. Cards that are not part of any build will be referred to as loose cards.
Trail
The played card is simply left on the table, where it can later be captured or incorporated into a build.

There are several restrictions on what can be played, captured or built.

  1. A player who creates or adds to a build must hold a card in hand that is equal to the capture value of the build and keep it until either the build is captured or another player takes it over. Note that in the four-player partnership game you cannot create or add to a build for your partner, even if you can prove that your partner holds a card of the value required to capture the build. Creating or extending a build makes you the owner of it, and to own a build you must hold a matching card yourself.
  2. The owner of a build is not allowed to trail. The player must either make a capture or do some more building. If you own a build and no other option is available you will always be able to capture your own build, since you must hold a matching card.
  3. It is not possible to trail when playing a card that has a capture value equal to any loose card on the table. If the played card matches any card on the table that is not part of a build, then the player either capture all loose cards that match the loose card or use the played card to create or extend a build. However it is not compulsory to capture sets of cards that add up to the value of the played card. Also it is not compulsory to capture a build that matches the value of the played card, unless you are the owner of the build and have no other matching card that can be used to capture it later. This rule has some slightly tricky consequences, so here are some examples.
    1. The table contains K, 8, 7, 5, A and a King is played. The player could capture K,8,5 or K,7,5,A but that would leave a total of 8 on the table. If the player fears that the next player has an 8 then to avoid the sweep the player could capture just the King, leaving the other four cards behind. Alternatively, if holding a second King the player could create a multiple build, for example of K,K,7,5,A.
    2. If a Queen is played when the table contains 7, 5, 4 it is possible to capture the 7+5 but not compulsory. The player may trail with the Queen instead to prevent the next player making a sweep with a Four. The trail is allowed because there is no equal card on the table.
    3. If the initial layout consists of diamond10, club10, heart8, heart6 and the first player plays the spade10, both tens must be captured, even though the next player may be able to score a sweep with an Ace.
    4. On the table there is a loose 5 with some other cards and you have a 5 and a 10 in your hand. If you play your 5 you don't have to capture the 5 from the table: instead you can create a build of 10: 5+5.
    5. Suppose that in a four-player game your partner has built 9 (5+4) and you have one 9 in your hand. You cannot add your 9 to the build because then you would become the owner and you do not have another 9 to justify this. You do not want to capture the build leaving your partner with a useless 9. You can however simply trail your 9 capturing nothing, so that your partner can later take your 9 along with the build.
  4. Cards that are left on the table although they could have been captured by the played card are known as "dejado" (left behind) or "pisado" (stepped on). It is customary for the opponents to point out such cards, especially if the player has left them behind by accident, perhaps not seeing a set of cards whose values added up to the played card.

  5. It is possible to increase the capture value of a single build owned by another player by playing a new card from your hand onto the build and becoming the new owner. You must of course hold a card equal to the new capture value. For example another player owns a build of 7+5 on the table and you hold a 2 and an Ace: you can add your 2 to the build making it into a build of 14 for your Ace. * Note that you are not allowed to increase the value of your own build in this way (though it is legal to increase the value of your partner's build in a partnership game).
  6. It is not possible to change the capture value of a multiple build. You can add further cards to a multiple build or convert a single build to a multiple build by adding cards, and by doing so you become the owner of the build if you did not already own it. When adding to a build to create a multiple build, at least one of the added cards must be the card you played from your hand on that turn.

Sweeps (Virados)

If a player captures all the cards on the table leaving it empty, this counts as a sweep, which potentially scores 1 point. To mark the sweep, the played card is placed face under the player or team's capture pile, at right angles to the rest of the pile so that the face up card is partly visible and it is clear how many sweeps have been scored.

Sweeps of opposing players or teams cancel each other. Specifically, when both players in a two-player game or both teams in a four-player partnership game, or all players in a 3- or 4-player game without partners have at least one sweep, each player or team turns one of the face up sweep cards in their capture pile face down. After cancelling there will always be at least one player or team with no sweeps.

End of the Play and Scoring

When the dealer plays the last card and the deck is empty, any cards that remain on the table are taken by the last player or team that made a capture. This does not count as a sweep. The dealer can score a sweep with the very last card played if it really captures all the cards that remain on the table. However, if the dealer ends the game by capturing just some of the cards and takes the rest of them only by virtue of having made the last capture this is not a sweep.

The scores are then calculated based on the cards each player or team has captured. There are scores for taking the most cards, the most spades, the 10 of Diamonds, the 2 of Spades, the Aces and the sweeps, as follows.

  • Most cards: 3 points
  • Most Spades (espadas): 1 point
  • 10 of Diamonds (diez de casino): 2 points
  • 2 of Spades (dos de casino): 1 point
  • Each Ace: 1 point
  • Each sweep that has not been cancelled: 1 point

So usually the total number of points available is 11 plus the number of sweeps. However if there is a tie for most cards or (in a 3- or 4-player individual game) for most spades no one gets those points.

Each player or team starts at zero and keeps a cumulative score and the aim is to be first player or team to reach 21 points or more. However some special rules come into force when a player or team has a score near to 21.

  • A player or team that has a score of 18 can only win by capturing most cards (3 points).
  • A player or team that has a score of 19 can only win by taking the 10 of Diamonds (2 points).
  • A player or team that has a score of 20 can only win by capturing most Spades (1 point).

If a player or team with 18, 19 or 20 points does meet the criterion for winning - for example taking most spades when they had 20 points at the start of the hand - then they win the game automatically, irrespective of how many points the opponent(s) score. If they do not meet the criterion, then the opponents score normally.

A player or team with 18 or more points cannot score for sweeps, but can still use sweeps to cancel sweeps made by the opponent(s). So sweeps are still recorded and cancelled in the usual way, but if you have sweep cards face up at the end of play when your score is 18 or more you do not score anything for them.

For example in a two-player game where player A has 19 points and player B has 15, if player A takes most cards and two Aces makes two sweeps (or two more than player B), while player B scores most spades, diamond10, spade2 and two Aces, player A scores nothing while player B scores 6 points and wins the game with 21.

If two players or teams are under scoring restrictions then the first to meet the winning criterion wins the game. In some cases it might be necessary to count cards to find out, for example, whether player A had taken the majority of cards before player B captured the diamond10.

Should it happen that more than one player reaches 21 or more points in the same deal and there is a tie for most points (for example if two players score 6 points each starting from a score of 15-15), further deals are played without scoring restrictions until one player or team has more points than the other(s) and wins.

Variations

Some players do not allow a player or team under scoring restrictions to record any sweeps, so sweeps achieved by their opponent(s) cannot be cancelled.

In the four-player partnership game some allow a player to create or augment a build for partner if it can be proved from the previous play that partner has a card that can capture the build. This is always the case when augmenting partner's build without changing its value, but it can also happen if partner has previously created a build that was taken by another player, and partner has not subsequently played a card that could have captured it. When building for partner, a player must always announce "for partner", and this obliges the partner to keep the capturing card until the build is captured or changes ownership. Example. On the table are 4, 7, 9. Your partner plays an Ace and combines it with the 4 and 7 to build 12. The next player captures this build with a Queen. You hold a 3 but no Queen. Nevertheless you can play your 3 on the 9 to build 12 "for partner": you know your partner must have a Queen, otherwise the previous 12-build would not have been legal.

Joel A. Soto describes a version in which the endgame scoring restrictions apply when a player or team has a score of 16 or more.

  • A player or team that has a score of 16 can only score for capturing most cards (3 points) or the 10 of Diamonds (2 points).
  • A player or team that has a score of 17 can only score for capturing most cards (3 points) or most Spades (1 point).
  • A player or team that has a score of 18 can only score for capturing most cards (3 points).
  • A player or team that has a score of 19 can only score for the 10 of Diamonds (2 points).
  • A player or team that has a score of 20 can only score for capturing most Spades (1 point).

From 16 or 17 you can reach 21 in a single deal or in two stages. For example from 17 you can score 4 points and get to 21 immediately by taking most cards and most Spades, or you might take most cards on one deal taking you to 20 and later the most Spades to reach 21. If a player or team with 16 or 17 scores all the required points in one deal they win the game irrespective of the opponents' score. If they only score part of what they need, the opponents score normally and may win the game if they have enough points.

Royal Casino in North America

As described in English and American books, Royal Casino differs from the ordinary game of Casino only in the use of the picture cards and Aces. Jacks have a capture value of 11, Queens 12, Kings 13 and Aces 1 or 14 at the discretion of the player. Picture cards and Aces can be used in the same way as other cards: they can capture, be captured and be incorporated into builds according to their capture values. For example, a Queen can capture a Five and a Seven, or an Ace can capture a King and an Ace, counting the capturing Ace as 14 and the captured Ace as 1.

In comparison to the Dominican game described above, the differences are as follows.

  1. Deal and play are clockwise.
  2. Captures are not compulsory: a card can be trailed even if there is an equal card on the table. However, the owner of a build is not allowed to trail but must build or capture.
  3. The game is often played without a score for sweeps. If sweeps are scored, a player or team scores for every sweep: there is no cancelling of sweeps between opponents.
  4. There are no restrictions on scoring when a player or team nears the target score of 21.
  5. If two or more players or teams reach the target score in the same hand, the points are counted in the following order of priority:
    1. Most cards
    2. Most spades
    3. 10 of Diamonds (big casino)
    4. 2 of Spades (little casino)
    5. Aces in the order: Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds.
    6. Sweeps

Tuxedo

Tuxedo is an American Casino variant for 2 to 6 players played with a deck of 40 Rook cards. Instead of the usual four suits these have four colours: black, red, green and yellow, with numeral cards running from 1 to 10 in each colour. (In a full Rook deck the numbers run up to 14 in each colour and there is an additional wild 'bird' card, but the bird and the numbers 11-14 are not used in Tuxedo).

The mechanics of the game are the same as in American Casino (or Royal Casino). The initial deal is four cards to each player and four to the table as usual, and when players have played their cards a further four cards each are dealt, provided that there are sufficient cards remaining in the deck. When there are not enough cards to do this, the cards are dealt out evenly as far as they will go and the last remaining cards are dealt to the table. So the final deal of a hand will be 2 cards each with 2 players, 4 cards each with 3 players, 1 card each with 4 players, 3 cards each and 1 to the table with 5 players and 2 cards each with 6 players.

The scoring is different from that of normal Casino:

  • Most cards: 15 points
  • Each "orange": 10 points
  • Each sweep of 4 or more cards: 10 points
  • Each sweep of 3 or fewer cards: 5 points
  • Each Five: 5 points

An "orange" is scored when a player captures a red and a yellow card from the table at the same time. The "orange" must be called by the player in order to score. If the player forgets, another player can score 10 points by calling "orange". A false call of "orange" incurs a 10 point penalty.

The first player to reach 100 or more points wins the game.

The collection HOYLE Card Games for Windows or Mac OS X includes a Tuxedo program adapted for a standard card deck reduced to 40 cards by removing the face cards.

Hungarian Casino

David Kirchner reports an unusual Royal Casino variant learned from his grandfather who was born in 1890 in Hungary and moved to the USA in 1945. Rules for this game can also be found in S. Ulmann's Das Buch der Familienspiele (Vienna, 1892) under the name 'Casino en deux' (Casino for two), said to be most usual in Hungary.

This is a two-person game in which only three cards are dealt to each player each turn. Four cards are dealt to the table at the start as usual. There is no building.

On his or her turn, a player may play number of cards in hand to take any card(s) or combination(s) of cards appearing on the table such that the total of the cards played is equal to the total value of each card or combination taken. Examples:

  • A Queen on the table can be taken by playing a 9 and a 3 from hand.
  • A 10 and a 2 on the table can be taken by playing a 7 and a 5 from hand.
  • A player holding J, Q, A could play them all together to take a 4, 7 and King from the table (11+12+1=24=4+7+13).

The played cards and the captured cards are added the the player's capture pile.

Alternatively, a player who cannot or does not wish to capture can play a single card to the table. This card remains in the layout and can be captured by either player in a future turn.

Since a player may play more than one card in a turn, it is not unusual for a player to have two or three cards in hand after the opponent has played all cards. The player with remaining cards in the hand may then play them in any order he or she chooses.

If a player captures all the cards from the table, this is a sweep, remembered as usual by keeping one of the cards face up in the player's capture pile. The player who makes the last capture takes all remaining cards from the table but this does not count as a sweep.

The scoring as usual is 3 points for most cards, 2 points for the 10 of Diamonds, and 1 point for most Spades, the 2 of Spades, each Ace and each sweep. Thus there are usually 11 points available plus any sweeps. However, if the cards are equally divided (26 each) the 3 points for cards are not awarded.

The winner is the first player to reach 11 points. This usually happens during the second player's deal. Players mentally keep track of the points they have during this second deal, and the first person to correctly announce that he or she has reached 11 points on the basis of cards captured and sweeps wins the game, even if the other player has already reached 11 unknowingly. It is possible, though rare, for the game to go to a third deal if the scores is close and the cards are equally divided in one of the deals.

The above rules are from David Kirchner. The rules in Ulmann's book are slightly different. According to Ulmann:

  1. When capturing a card cor cards of a given value from the table, it is possible to play more than one card or disjoint set of cards from hand adding up to this value. For example a player holding J, 7, 4 could play all three cards to capture a Jack (11) from the table since J=11 and 7+4=11.
  2. If the non-dealer is able to sweep the four cards initially dealt to the table, capturing them all with the first play, this sweep scores 2 points rather than 1.
  3. Before dealing the dealer shuffles and offers the pack to the non-dealer to cut. When cutting the non-dealer is allowed to look at cut card - the card that will become the bottom card of the deck and will be dealt to the dealer in the final sub-deal.
  4. Each deal is played to the end. If both players reach 11 or more points the player with more points wins.
Live casino allows you to play against real live dealers.