CASINO (diminutive of casa, a house), the Italian name for a pleasure-house in a garden, which has been extended to a place of public amusement at pleasure resorts, in which concerts, theatrical performances and public balls are given, and which usually contains a café-restaurant and gaming saloons. “Casino” as an architectural term is still employed in France, and the subject is given in competitive programmes in the French schools of design. In the 18th century in England many Italian examples were built in the parks of country mansions, and Sir William Chambers in his treatise on civil architecture publishes plates of the casinos he had built at Marino, near Dublin, Wilton near Salisbury, and Birdshall, Yorkshire.
Casino or Cassino is also the name given to a game of cards of obscure origin, played with a full whist-pack. The object is to take as many cards as possible, particularly such as have special value. It may be played by two, three or four persons, partners sitting opposite one another. The player at the dealer’s right is called the pony (pone), the one at his left the eldest hand. The dealer (selected by the cut of the lowest card) deals four cards to each player by twos and also, just before dealing to himself, four to the table, face upwards. The eldest hand begins the game by playing a card in one of three ways. Either he may take one of the exposed cards on the table by matching it with one from his own hand; or he may put one of his cards upon one of the table hand and call the sum of the pips (called building); or thirdly, failing to do either of these things, he must trail, i.e. lay a card face upwards on the table beside the exposed cards, and the player at his left then plays in his turn. When each player has played out all four of his cards the dealer deals four more all round, and the game proceeds until the pack is exhausted. The game either (1) ends at this juncture, the player having secured the most points winning; or (2) the side or player first securing 21 points wins; or (3) the points secured in a given number of deals may determine the winner. The points and their respective values are as follows:—Big (or Great) Casino (ten of diamonds), 2; Little Casino (deuce of spades), 1; Cards (greatest number), 3; Spades (greatest number), 1; Aces, 1 each or 4 together; Sweeps, 1 each. Thus, without sweeps, the maximum points in one deal are 11. A sweep is a play that clears the table of all exposed cards. The game then proceeds by the next player placing a card on the table face upwards.
“Building,” referred to above, is done as follows. Should a 3 lie exposed on the table, a player may place a 4 upon it, saying, “I build a 7,” and, if it is not disturbed before his next turn, he may then take the two cards with another 7 from his hand. It follows that no combination may be built unless the builder holds the proper card in his hand. But a build may be increased. Thus, in the case cited above, another player may put a 2 upon the two cards which make 7 and say, “I build 9,” in which case the original builder loses control of the build unless he also holds a 9 in his hand or can himself increase the build again; for instance, adding an ace and calling 10. In the old way of playing the ace counted 1, the deuce 2, and so on as at whist, excepting that all court cards counted 10. But in the popular variation called Royal Casino, now almost universally played, the ace counts either 1 or 14, the king 13, the queen 12 and the knave 11. In this manner the opportunities for simple and increased building are greatly multiplied, resulting in a much livelier game.
If a player has made a build he must take it in on his next play, unless he can take some other card. He cannot have two builds on the table at the same time, nor increase another build if he already has one of his own. Double Builds cannot be increased, e.g. if a player combines a 3 and 4 lying on the table and places a 7 from his hand upon them, saying, “I build sevens,” this build can be taken only with a 7, and cannot be built upon further. Of course in the case cited the builder must still have another 7 in his hand. In playing partners each may take in the other’s builds, or may build to a card that has been declared by his partner; e.g. if his partner has built an 8 that has been captured by an opponent, he may build another 8 with a card from his own hand to the 8 that he knows to be in his partner’s hand, even though he has no 8 himself. In trailing, i.e. laying down a card without matching or building, one usually plays small cards, avoiding aces and (if Big and Little Casino have not yet been played) tens and deuces, as well as any cards one has reason to think will be of service to the enemy. High cards are usually played last, as they are stronger in taking combinations. Such rules are, however, quite general, each situation calling for special treatment. In the last round all cards remaining on the table become the property of the player taking the last trick. A good memory and keen powers of observation are essential in playing this game.
In Twenty-One-Point Casino nothing is scored until the end of the deal. A second or third deal is usually necessary before one side scores the requisite 21. In the final deal each side keeps a mental count of the points made, and as soon as 21 are scored the game is claimed and the points shown. But if, when added to those already scored in previous deals, they make more or less than 21, the claimant loses the game. In counting out cards count first, followed by spades, Big Casino, Little Casino, aces and sweeps, in that order.
Spade Casino is a variation in which the usual 11 points count as in the regular game, and, in addition, each spade counts 1, excepting the knave of spades, which counts 2, making 24 points in all. These are scored on a cribbage-board, each point being marked as it is made. The game is for 61 points, or once round the board and into the game-hole.