Review: Casino Yahtzee
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Year: 1986
Tagline: The High-Rolling Dice Game

Cover of casino yahtzee showing large plastic playing area

My cover is damaged

how we met

There are so many Yahtzee variants out there in this wide world. I like Yahtzee, but for some reason I don’t go in for the variants. The boxes are lovely and I do enjoy the game, so I’m not sure what it is. I am just grateful for any ounce of me that shies away from a new game purchase. But then I saw Casino Yahtzee on the bottom shelf of a thrift shop – probably because the box is so giant – and I was sold. Just look at it.

how it plays

Casino Yahtzee is commonly described as a cross between Yahtzee and Bingo, and that is pretty spot on. The object of Casino Yahtzee is to score points by being the first one to “close” certain score rows and columns. The player with the most points once all score rows and columns are complete wins!

Example board mid-play showing markers covering numbers and some scores

Example play using all black markers. The white numbers are scores and colored numbers are what you need to fill

There are five dice in Casino Yahtzee, each corresponding to a different color. Players fill their areas of the board by rolling five dice on their turn – any five dice they choose. In the beginning you will probably roll all five colors to start filling your open spots. As scoring opportunities become evident you may choose to roll the orange die five times, or the blue die twice and the red die three times. It’s up to you. Just roll five dice on your turn.

When you roll a color/number die combo then you mark it on your board, like Bingo. You are trying to close those scoring rows and columns before other players do.

Dice in the dice tray, each a different color face

My dice are old and tired and hard to read

The scoring sheet in Casino Yahtzee allows for only one player to score each row. So as your fellow players score different numbers you can block them on your own board to know that they are out of play. NOTE: there are two 25’s and two 30’s so we term them top and bottom for tracking.

The biggest trick to the game is calling your row when you’ve scored it; you only get the points when you call it, and only on your turn. It is surprisingly easy to overlook points so demand your time at the end of your turn until you are comfortable you are not missing any points.

An empty board before play starts

A regular board at start of play, the same for all players

There are a couple of possible bonus point opportunities available during your turn. You can forego a regular turn and announce you are going for bonus points. Then roll each of the dice. If you roll all different numbers then you are awarded a bonus, the sum of the dice you rolled. These dice do not affect your board.

There is also an elusive Rainbow Bonus, which happens if all the dice you roll are in sequential order. In this case the numbers of the dice are added together and doubled to make your bonus, and you still get to cover the numbers you rolled on your board.

Score sheet showing the possible scores in column on the left and only one player captures each of them

Score sheet of our first play. Note the lack of bonus points

The game ends when all of the possible rows and columns have been scored. Then the player with the most points wins! Want to play again? It’s so easy. Just pull your Casino Yahtzee card cover out toward your empty tray and, voila, the markers crash to the tray and you are ready for a new game! It is so satisfying.

how it went

We played Casino Yahtzee at the end of a long game night. Its simplicity makes it a great fit for the end of the night. It’s possible some of us had been drinking at that point, and others not.

When we first got out our big plastic boards and started connecting them, there was talk of what the tray on the side is for. Bill had the best theory when he said, “This is from, what, the 70s? You are thinking about this all wrong. That’s an ashtray.”

We poured all of the markers into the dice tray and all drew our markers from there. In this game, two of us used all white markers while two of us used all black markers. The instructions say to use black to cover your numbers and white to cover the score rows. But whatever. I actually prefer not using white markers for the score rows because they are white circles to begin with; they feel more closed with black markers and help my eyes skip over them when I need to.

An overview of our play showing the giant plastic pieces together

Our first play: markers everywhere, even in the ashtrays

FUN FACT: Keri and I were constantly being accused of cheating during this game so Bill came up with the phrase Hottie or Naughty, which is now permanently in our vocabulary. We are about that age, you see.

In our first play of Casino Yahtzee I noticed we mostly rolled all five different dice each time, a circumstance of the hour as much as the strategy perhaps. But here’s the thing about Casino Yahtzee: it’s kind of fun. So we have played a few times now and our strategy has gotten more cut-throat and focused in later play (though I am not convinced that rolling all five dice is not the best strategy most of the time). A few days after playing for the first time the power went out at our house for hours, and Bill and I played Casino Yahtzee with headlamps instead of doing electronic, online things. And it was kind of perfect.

Overview of play with board unevenly lit by headlamp

Playing by headlamp

Keri won our first game during our first play. And it was the start of a beautiful game friendship. And the start of a paper crown documenting the winner henceforth. (More on that later)

play or pass

Play. We have pulled out Casino Yahtzee on multiple occasions, which is very high praise in this house. It is simple and fun, a nice filler as they say. And we usually play more than one time in a row. I can see this being the kind of game you grow up on that never gets old. I always knew there was a Yahtzee variant out there for me!