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Hand and Foot Canasta Rules

Players, Cards and Deal (4 Player Game)


Partners sit opposite of each other. Five decks of cards are used, including Jokers.


Choose which partnership will deal first. Mix the cards and one partner deals 4 piles of 13 cards that will be the players hands. The other partner deals 4 piles of 13 cards that will be the players foots.


The remainder of the undealt cards are placed face down in the center to form the stock. The top card is turned face up to make a discard pile beside the stock pile. If it is a Red Three or Wild Card it is buried and a new card is turned over.


The players foots are placed face down beside them and will not used until a player has played all the cards in his hand. Players pick up their hand and play will begin with the player to the left of person who dealt the hands.


After the end of the round of play deal will pass to the left. A game consists of four deals.


The Object of the Game (Melding)


The aim of the game is to get rid of the cards in your hand by melding them. A meld is a set of three to seven card of the same rank placed face up on the table. A meld cannot have fewer then three cards and no more than seven cards (see below for alternative rules on the number of cards allowed). Melds belong to the partnership. Usually incomplete melds are placed face up in columns in front of one of the team members while the other member will collect the completed melds of seven cards, called Canastas. Melds can be made of any rank from A, K Q down to 4. Threes have special uses and cannot be melded. Two and Jokers are wild cards. You can make a meld of Wild Cards and in fact one is required to go out. Wild cards can also be placed in other melds as long as there is at least as many natural cards as wild cards in the meld at any time. You may only have one Meld in play of any value at a time (example if you have a meld 5 sevens and your partner has 3 sevens in their hand they may not start a second meld of sevens till the first meld is completed, so they may add 2 sevens to finish the Canasta but will be left with the single seven in their hand or they can wait till the first meld is completed and then start a second.)


There are three types of Canastas


A Clean Canasta has no wild cards.

A Dirty Canasta has at least one wild card in it.

A Wild Canasta consists entirely of wild cards.


When a meld contains seven cards it is removed from the meld layout, squared into a pile and placed face up in front of the other partner. If it is a Clean Canasta put a red card on top, if it is a Dirty Canasta place a black card on top and if it is a Wild Canasta place a Joker on top. This makes it easier for counting at the end.


You will score points for completed Canastas and lose points for cards left in your hand at the end of play.


The play ends when someone goes out and gets rid of all the cards in their hand and foot (see “picking up your foot” later in the rules) by melding or discarding them. Before you can go out you must meet the following conditions.


You have two Clean Canastas completed.

You have two Dirty Canastas completed.

You have one Wild Canasta completed.


(Alternative Rule - You can play that more than seven cards are allowed in a Canasta and cards can be added to completed Canastas of the same value, the restriction of not more wild cards than natural cards still apply.)


(Alternative Rule - You can play that you can have more than one meld of a value going at once. This can be handy if you are making one that going to be a Clean Canasta and one that is going to be a Dirty Canasta)


Card Values


Individual cards have values as follows:


Jokers 50 Points

Twos and Aces 20 Points

Eight through King 10 Points

Four through Seven 5 Points

Red Threes 100 Points

Black Threes 5 Points


(Alternative Rule - Black threes may by played to be 100 points, the same as red threes. This makes picking up the pile more dangerous as you might have a few and if someone goes out you can be caught with them)


Minimum Initial Meld Requirements


Before you can meld for the first time in a round you must have a minimum amount of points in the meld. This is based on the chart below.


Round 1 50 Points

Round 2 90 Points

Round 3 120 Points

Round 4 150 Points


Example: You have 3 sixes and 4 fives. Sixes and fives are only worth 5 points each so that is only 35 points, not enough to meld. If you had 3 Kings and 4 fives, the Kings are 10 points each and the fives are 5 points each totaling 50 points, you could meld for the first round. If you had a Joker and 2 fours you could make a dirty meld. The Joker is 50 points and the fours are 10 points for 60 points, you could meld if you only need 50 points. If you had 4 Kings and 5 Queens that is 90 points and you could meld in the first or second round. You can make any number of melds to make this total but they must all be laid at once from your hand.


The Play


The player to the left of the person who dealt the hands goes first, the play then continues clockwise around the table until someone goes out. Each player, immediately before taking their first turn must place any red threes they hold face up on the table and draw an equal number of cards to replace them. These cards will count at the end of the round but not for melding.


The play then goes as follows:


Take the top two cards from the stock pile or take the discard pile (see below).

Optionally make a new meld or add cards to a meld on the table.

Discard one card from your hand to the discard pile.


If you draw a red three you immediately place it face up on the table and draw a replacement card.


Taking the discard pile - You can instead of taking two cards from the top of the deck you may pick up the top seven cards of the discard pile, if there are fewer than seven cards you pick up the whole pile. You may only do so if you have at least two cards of the same value in your hand (not wild cards). You must then play these three cards into a meld If your team is not started any melds yet you must still adhere to the minimum number of points required using only the meld of the top card of the discard deck and cards in your hand. You cannot use other cards from the discard pile until you have met the requirements. If you cannot meet the required points from this you cannot pick up the discard pile.


You make not take the discard pile if it is frozen. Cards that freeze the discard pile from being taken are:

Black threes




(Alternative Rule - Jokes and Twos do not freeze the pile, only black threes do.)


Example: When your turn comes the top card of the discard pile is a seven. You have 2 sevens in your hand you may pick up the top seven cards of the discard pile but you must meld of the 3 sevens , if you cannot meld the 3 sevens within the rules you cannot pick up the discards. You can then go through your hand as normal after adding the other six cards to your hand.


(Alternative Rule - Instead of picking up only the top seven cards of the discard pile you may pick up the whole discard pile. You must still meld with the top card and the two natural cards in your hand. This can be a fun variant and can lead to a lot of points if you can grab the discard pile when it is big.)


Picking up your Foot


When you get rid of all the cards in your hand you may then pick up the cards in your Foot. There are two ways this can happen. First if you play all but one of your cards and play the last card in your hand to the discard pile, you pick up your foot and can play it when it comes around to your turn again. Second if you play all your cards and have no card left to discard you can pick up your foot and continue playing with your new cards.


Red and Black Threes


Red and Black threes cannot be used in melds


Red threes as you get them are laid on the table and for each one at the end of the round your team will score 100 additional points.


Black threes can be used to freeze the discard pile from being taken. Any black threes still in your hand or foot when someone goes out will count against you.


End of Play


Play ends with one player goes out by playing all their cards onto meld piles and discarding their last card. They must have a discard card to go out. The round can also end if no player has gone out and the draw pile is empty.


(Alternative Rule - Your opponent must have also played at least one turn on their foot before you can go out.)

(Alternative Rule – You must get permission from your partner before you can go out)





At the end of a round you receive


500 points for each Clean Canasta completed

300 points for each Dirty Canasta completed

1500 points for each Wild Canasta completed

100 points if your team went out

100 points for each Red three you have played




Add up the points remaining in your hand and or foot as per the Card Values, only the person that went out will have none.


Jokers 50 Points

Twos and Aces 20 Points

Eight through King 10 Points

Four through Seven 5 Points

Red Threes 100 Points

Black Threes 5 Points


and subtract them from your score.


Playing with other numbers of players


Canasta can be played with other numbers of players. With 4 or 6 players it is normally played in teams. Use one deck of cards plus one for the number of players.



Fun Bonus Points


As an optional fun bonus. The dealing players after shuffling the deck try to cut off the exact number of cards needed to deal the hands or foots. In a 4 player game that would be 52 cards. If they cut off exactly 52 cards and the deal is perfect the team earns a bonus 100 points.


Earl's Recommended Alternative Rules


You may have more than seven cards in a Canasta and add to completed Canastas on the table.

When picking up the discard deck you pick up the entire discard deck

Black threes are worth 100 points against not just 5

You may have more than one meld of a value on the table at once.