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Canasta, a game of the rummy family, originated in Uruguay, was developed in Argentina, and reached the United States in 1949.  from 1951 through 1953 it became the rage, perhaps the greatest in card history.  (Its popularity exceeded that of Mah-Jongg in the twenties and the craze for Contract Bridge as the most-played American partnership card game .  Its popularity fell off after 1953 but it still has millions of players, mostly women.  It’s an enjoyable game, especially for mixed partnerships; and, like Spanish, it’s easy to learn but hard to master. 
            The rules that follow are the original partnership Canasta rules that made the game the great hit of the early fifties.  Today, however, every hamlet, town, city, state, and country seems to have its own variation of play, many of which are described in later pages.



  1. Four players, two against two, as partners.
  2. Two standard  packs of 52 cards each, shuffled together and used as one, plus four jokers, totaling 108 cards dealt and played as a single deck.  The jokers and the eight deuces are wild.  As in play poker , any wild card may be used to represent, in the play, any other card. Most card packs sold in the United States contain two jokers.  Actually, any two regular decks will do for Canasta; the color of the pattern on the back and its design do not matter.
  3. Pencil and paper to keep score.  A player is elected to keep score: better still, when possible, a nonplayer is scorekeeper.

Object of the game.  A partnership must score  5,000 or more points before the opposing partnership does so-by laying down melds of three or more cards in the same numerical rank; sequence melds are not allowed.
            Point Value of the Cards in scoring.  The following are the point value of the cards in scoring:


50 points each


20 points each


20 points each

Eights, nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings

10 points each

Fours, fives, sixes, seven

5 points each

Black threes   (clubs and spades)

5 points each

Red three (diamonds and hearts)

100 points each

(But, if a partnership holds four red three’s on the board, their total value becomes 800 points, the combination of all four red three’s giving a value of 200 points to each.)

Bonuses are given for a red three, four red threes, natural Canasta (second from bottom), and mixed Canasta

            To receive a plus credit for red three’s, a partnership must have laid down at least one meld.  In the event of failure to meld, the red three’s become a penalty against the partnership: 100 points for each red three, or 800 points if the no melding partnership hold four red three’s.  (it must be interpolated that the possibility of holding four red three’s without making a meld is remote.)  If upon the completion of the hand a player is caught with a red three in the hand, having neglected to put it down, he is penalized 200 points.

            Natural and Mixed Canastas: What the Terms mean. 
This is a natural canasta:
 Or any seven cards of the same poker rank regard-less of suit.  Wild cards cannot be used in a natural canasta.  A natural canasta has a value of 500 points.
This is a mixed canasta:
6666 plus three wild cards
66666plus two wild cards
 6666666 plus one wild card

            A mixed canasta is a combination of seven cards having the same rank, at least four of which must be natural cards; at least four of which must be natural cards; a maximum of three cards may be wild.  A mixed canasta has a value of 300 points.
            When a player melds a canasta or forms a canasta by adding to cards already  melded on the table- the canasta is folded together and tagged for identification.  When it is a natural canasta, any red card, when possible, is placed on top of it to designate its natural.  When it is a mixed canasta, its identifying top card is a black or a wild card.  Once the cards have been folded, the meld is a closed canasta.
            In the subsequent play a player may meld (lay off ) additional cards on a canasta.  cards of corresponding rank or wild cards may be added to any canasta, natural or mixed but adding a wild card to a natural canasta transforms this canasta into a mixed one, with a consequent change in its value from 500 points to 300 points.  Wild cards cannot be added to a mixed canasta which already embodies three wild cards.
            Penalties.  When  a constant goes rummy or goes out, any cards still held by any player in his hand are totaled and assessed against the player as a penalty.  Even when one member of a partnership goes poker rummy, the cards left in the other partner’s hand are counted against the partnership.  And these penalty cards have the same value as they would have if melded, except the red three’s.  The penalty for holding a red three  at the completion of a hand is 200 points; as a penalty card its value is twice its value when laid on the board.
            Selecting Partners and Seating Positions

  1. The four players take places at the four sides of the table.
  2. Any player by mutual consent shuffles the deck and offers it to any other player for the cut.
  3. From the cut deck each player now cuts a block of cards, turning his block and exposing the bottom card.  The players drawing the two lowest cards become partners, as do the players drawing the two highest cards.  Rank of cards of cutting purpose: two (low), three, four, on up to ace (high).  If three-or four-way ties occur on the cut for partners, a new deal and cut must take place.

When cutting for partners, the jokers are excluded from the deck.  The partners now seat themselves opposite each other.  To avoid any possibility of controversy as to seating position, one player for each team cuts the deck and exposes his card.  If it is a black card, partners remain in the seats they have taken.  If it is a red card, they must exchange seats.  The player who cut low card in cutting for the partner’s seat positions starts the game by dealing the first hand.  Thereafter, on the completion of each hand, the deal passes to the player at the previous dealer’s left, clockwise.  On the completion of each game, players may change partners, or may cut for new partnerships and seat positions.
            The Shuffle and Cut.  These are governed by General Rules for Rummy Games.
            The Deal.  Each player is dealt 11 cards, one at a time, starting with the player at the dealer’s left and dealing clockwise.  The dealer then faces up the forty-fifth  card  in the center of the table (this card becoming the first upcard).  The rest of the deck is placed face down next to the upcard and is now the stock.  If the upcard is a wild card (deuce or joker)  or a red three, the top card of the stock is turned up and placed on top of the first upcard.  This procedure is followed until some card other than a wild card or a red three is the upcard.
            Important Rule at Canasta.  At a player’s proper turn to play, should he hold any red threes, he places them on the table face up as if they  were a meld, and for each red three he lays down he picks a card from the stock.  If this drawn card is a red three, that too is laid on the table, and the player  draws another card from the stock.  This procedure is continued until the player fails to draw a red three.  This rule holds true for each player at each turn of play.
            The Actual Play.  The player to the dealer’s left has the first turn of play.  Thereafter the turn of play rotates to the left, clockwise, from player to player until the completion of the hand.
            First Player.  The player to the dealer’s left plays as follows:

  1. The player may pick the top card from the stock.  He may then meld  if he can, if he wants to do so.  Then he must discard one card.  His first (initial) meld or melds must total 50 or more points.  He may make up the 50 points.  He may make up the 50 points by laying off as many or as few melds as will suffice.
  2. Or, the player may pick up the entire discard pile – if the upcard can be used with two other natural cards of its numerical rank to form a meld.  Again, his meld or melds must total 50 or more points.  Before taking the upcard the player must lay down from his hand the cards to be melded with it; of the discard pile is incorporated into the player’s hand.  The player may now put down any other meld he elects.  Having melded, he must discard one card.

Second Player. The rules for the first player, as just stated, govern the play of the second.
Third  and Fourth Players (partners of the first and second).  If the partner has not melded cards, the rules as stated above apply to these players.  If the partner has not melded cards, the rules as stated above apply to these players.  If the partner has melded, two new elements come into play:

    1. The player may take up the discard pile with only one natural card matching the upcard plus one wild card, instead of needing two matching natural cards.
    2. He may take the discard pile when the upcard can be added to his or his partner’s meld, except if the discard pile is a frozen pile.  However, the upcard can never be taken up to be melded with two or more wild  cards.

Upon the completion of the first hand, should a partnership fail to meld the required minimum of 50 points and find itself in the minus column, this partnership is required to meld only 15 points for its first meld of the next hand.  If, upon the completion of a hand, this partnership has attained a scoring in the plus column, the minimum meld of 50 or more points is required for the first meld of the next hand.
            Once a partnership has scored the minimum meld of 50 or more points, a player or his partner may put down legal melds of any value until their partnership’s score reaches 1,500 or more at the end of a hand.  Then the next initial meld requirement  must total 90 points or more.  Then, when a partnership has scored 3,000 or more points at the end of a hand, the next initial meld must be 120 or more points.  When a score of 5,000 points is reached, that’s game.
            Bonus cards, such as red three’s, cannot be counted in amassing the require50-, 90-, or 120-point melds. 
            To emphasize:   The initial meld requirement must have a minimum count that depends upon the accumulated total score of that partnership at the beginning of the current deal.  These are shown below in tabular form.

Accumulated score at the
Beginning of the deal

Minimum meld count Requirement


15 points

0 to 1,495

50 points

1,500 to 2,k995

90 points

3,000 or more

120 points

The count of a meld is the total point value of the cards in it.  To meet the minimum, a player may make two or more different melds.  If he takes the discard pile, he may count the top card (but no other) towards requirement.  Bonuses for red threes and canastas do not count toward the minimum.  After a partnership has made its initial meld, either partner may make any legal meld without reference to any minimum count.
            Frozen Pile.  The discard pile becomes a frozen pile whenever it contains a wild card or a red three.  The frozen pile, also called the prize pile, may be taken up only when the player holds two natural cards matching the upcard on a meld.
            Stop Card.  When the upcard  of the discard pile is a wild card or a black three, it is a stop card; the next player cannot take the discard pile but must draw from stock.  Sometimes it is wise to freeze the pile by discarding a wild card to make it difficult for the opponent to pick up the pile.
            Black Threes.  Black three’s can be melded to go rummy only when a player  holds three or more black three’s in his hand.  Black  three’s cannot be melded at any other time, and they cannot be melded with wild cards.
            Exhausting the Stock.  If no one goes rummy and the entire stock is exhausted, the player picking the last card from the stock must discard one card.  If the upcard of the discard pile can then be laid off on one of the discard pile can then be laid off on one of the melds of the player whose turn it is or of his partner, then the player must take the entire discard pile and lay off the card.  Then he must discard one card.  If the discard pile contains only one card (upcard) and that upcard can be laid off on a meld of the player whose turn it is or of his partner, he must take that card, lay it off, and then discard a card.  This pattern of play continues until the upcard cannot be laid off by the player whose turn it is.
            By this time, if no one has gone rummy, the game end and no one gets the rummy games bonus of 100 points.  If the last card of the stock pile is a red three, the hand ends, and the scores are totaled.  The player who draws this red three does not get credit for it.  (This summary end of the hand takes place because the red three cannot be replaced.
            End of the Game.  At the end of each hand, new hands are dealt until one partnership reaches a score of 5,000 po0ints.  But the partnership reaching the winning  score cannot call out; the hand must be completed.  If both partnership have 5,000 or more points, the partnership with the higher score wins.  If the teams tie at 5,000 or more points, new hands are played until the tie is broken.  There is no  game bonus for scoring 5,000 points.
            Additional Rules.  The rules that govern irregularities are designed to define the offense and to provide an adequate remedy in all cases where a player accidentally, carelessly, or inadvertently violates a rule of the game and gains an unintentional but nevertheless unfair advantage.  An offending player should be ready to pay a prescribed penalty graciously.  The rules governing irregularities follow:

  1. In Canasta, the meld or lay consists of three or more cards in the same numerical rank: three four’s, four four’s , five four’s, six four’s, etc.   A meld once laid down cannot be changed.
  2. The sequence meld, permitted in most Rummy games, is not a legal meld in Canasta.  The five-six-seven of spades, for instance, is no meld at all in Canasta; the cards have no legal relationship to each other; they cannot be laid.
  3. “Laying off” means to extend an existent meld. A player may layoff cards on p either his own or his partner’s melds. Example: A player has melded three queens on the table before him. His partner has a queen or a wild card. He can lay this card on the  three melded queens-but, of course, only in his proper turn of play.
  4.  After a player has drawn a card from the stock he may meld if he wants to and if he has the points required to meld.
  5. After a player has draw the upcard of the discard pile, he must meld at least the number of points required at that stage of the game.
  6. A player may also meld cards taken in the discard pile immediately on taking up the discards. But points melded from the discard pile cannot be used to help make up the number of points required with each first meld.

Improper Melding. If a player melds fewer than the number of points required under the rules for the game at that stage, he may rectify the error if he has additional cards or melds in his hand-enough cards to satisfy or exceed the stipulated necessary amount. If he lacks such cards, he must discard the exposed cards he has laid on the table, one for each discard, in his proper turn of play. These penalty cards cannot be used in any accounting for scoring purposes. He must continue to discard so until either he or his partner has melded the amount required.
After the player or his partner has melded the amount required, the offending player may pick up any remaining penalty cards in his correct turn of play. He may incorporate them again into his hand, and may meld them if possible in due time. When an improper meld is made after the upcard bas been taken, this card must be returned to the top of the discard pile. And if the discard pile has been taken up, it too must be returned to the table. But the penalty meld may remain on the table, being governed by the above rules.
Seeking Information. During the game, any player may ask any other player how many cards he has left in his hand. The other player, whether opponent or partner, is not obligated to answer unless he is reduced to a single card, in which case he must answer, “I hold only one.” If, holding but one card, he answers that he holds more than one, on discovery that he has misstated his holding, that he misstated his holding, that player shall be penalized 50 points.
When holding more than one card, it is required of the player to whom the query is put only that he reply, “I hold more than one.” This is the minimum legal response. It is perhaps more conducive to affable relations in the play to give an accurate answer; but that is not obligatory.
At his proper turn to play, and before melding or laying off cards or indicating he had the necessary melds to go out, a player if may ask, “Partner, may I go out?” It is strongly recommended that only this phrase be used. The partner must reply either “Yes ” or “No” (nothing more), and the answer is binding. If the player fails to abide by the answer, his side is penalized 100 points.  A in player, however, may go out without asking le this question.
Discarding. After a player has drawn card and has melded (if he can and wants to), he must discard one card. If a player goes rummy he may meld his discard, and is le entitled to the extra points at which it is valued.
Additional Irregularities. Misdeals and or other irregularities are governed by the General Rule for Rummy Games.
How to Go Rummy. To go rummy, a player must meld or lay down all the cards in his hand, melding or laying them off on his to own or his partner’s melds-if there are any. But, a player is not permitted to meld or to layoff all of his cards unless a canasta has   been formed from his or his partner’s melds. A player must hold at least one card in his in hand if neither he nor his partner has melded or formed a canasta.
 Rummy Bonus to 100 Points. If a player has laid down a meld-remembering that Ed threes laid on the board are not admissible as a meld-and then goes rummy, he receives a bonus of 100 points, provided his partnership has melded at least one canasta.
Going Out Concealed: Rummy Bonus   200 Points. If a player goes out without my previously having melded (remember: red my threes on the board are not a meld), he receives a special bonus of 200 points-provided the going-out hand contains a canasta or the player’s partner has melded or formed a canasta.
Scoring. At the completion of each hand, the values of the melded cards and bonuses of hat each partnership are added together and entered on the score sheet for the partnership as a unit total. To minimize the possibility of errors in scoring, the following procedures may be useful:

  1. List:
    1. the total value of the red threes.

(b)the values of the canastas.
(c) the bonus (if any) for going rummy .

    1. the total count of all the cards melded.

2.   Add these totals together, and mark the total at one side of the score sheet.

  1. Deduct from this amount:
    1. the value of cards held by the partners in their hands at the end of play. (At the completion of a hand all the cards in a player’s holding count against his partnership, whether they are melds or not.)
    2. any penalties incurred during the play.  

Each partnership is privileged to check the opponent’s count.  The plus and minus cores are canceled against each other. The adjusted poker scoring is entered on the sheet as the total for that game.

Additional Penalties

  1. For failing to expose. a red three, the penalty is 200 points.
  2. For seeing more than one card when drawing a card from the stock, the player must show the drawn card to the other players.

Players are not permitted to inform their partners of the value of any cards in their hands.

Six-Hand Canasta

There are several ways to play this variation. The rules of Regular Partnership Canasta apply, except as follows:

  1. There are two partnerships of three players each, seated A B A B A B (each player is seated between two opponents).  Or, there are three partnerships of two players, each, seated ABC.
  2. A triple deck is used: three 52-card decks plus six jokers, all shuffled together. Thirteen cards are dealt to each player. Game is 10,000; when a side reaches 7,000, it needs 150 for its initial meld. Four red threes count only 100 each; five red threes count 1,000 in all; six red threes count 1,200. A side needs two canastas to go out.

Two-Hand Canasta

The rules for Regular Partnership Canasta hold true in this two-handed variant with the following exceptions:

  1. The dealer deals himself and his opponent 15 cards each, one at a time, starting with his opponent.
  2. When a player, at his turn of play, he draws from the stock, he must take the two top cards; but when he discards, he discards only one card.
  3. A player must meld two canastas to go of out.

Cutthroat (Three-Hand) Canasta

Three may play Canasta under the rules for he Regular Partnership Canasta, with the sole difference that each plays for himself. How he ever, a speedier and more interesting game is obtained by modifying the foregoing rules as Ed follows:

  1. Three players participate, each scoring for himself. But, during the play, they form sides of two against one. The player who first he takes the discard pile becomes the lone hand.  The other two join in a partnership against en the lone hand, combining their melds and otherwise aiding each other. If a player goes out before the discard ‘pile is ever taken, he becomes the lone hand and the other two score as partners. Each player receives a hand of 11 cards.
  2. When drawing from the stock, a player takes two cards, but then discards only one card.
  3. The initial meld requirement for a m. player depends on his own score. Hence, it may happen that one partner has a higher requirement than the other.
  4. If no one goes out, play ends with the discard of the player who drew the last card  of the stock.
  5. A red three counts only for the owner, plus or minus, according to whether or not  his side has made any meld. Therefore, the De base scores of the partners may differ if they have not drawn an equal number of red threes. All other scores made by the partnership are totaled, and each partner receives the A total, plus or minus his own red threes. Game is 7,500 points.

Five- Hand Canasta

One side has three players, who take turns sitting our while the other two play the deal against the opponents.  Regular Partnership Canasta poker is played.  The player sitting out may not give any advice to his teammates, and may not call attention to irregularities, except in scoring after the play is completed.



Pinochle many Variations

Pinochle many Variations
Two-Handed Pinochle
Two-Handed Doubling Redoubling
Auction pinochle
Strategy at Auction
CAD found
Partnership Auction
Auction pinochle without wido Individual play
Partnership Aeroplane Pinochle
Radio Partnership Pinochle

Other Members of the Bezique Family

The Bezique Family
Rubicon bezique
Two-handed sixty-six
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The Big Euchre Family

The big euchre family
Strategy of euchre
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Table of scoring points
Spoil five
Double hasenpfeffer
Three-card loo

The Heart Group

Heart Group
Spot Hearts
Black Widow Hearts

The All-Fours Group

All-Fours Group
Shasta Sam
Auction Pitch Joker

Banking Card Games

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CHEMIN DE PER must play
Baccarat Banque
Faro or farobank
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Red Dogs

Card craps

The Stops Games

Stops Game

Skarney® and How It Is Played

Skarney® and How It Is Played
Alternate Skarney
Skarney Singles
Skarney Gin Doubles

Cheating at Card Games

Cheating at Card Games
Professional Card Cheats
Nullifying the Cut
The Peek
How to Shuffle Cards

Dice and their Many Games

Dice and their Many Games
The Casino Game: Bank Craps
English Hazard
Double Cameroon
Partnership Straight scarney Dice
Scarney Duplicate Jackpots
Scarney Chemin de Fer
Applying All Card Games Poker

Games Requiring Special Equipment

Hasami Shogi
Follow The Arrow

Lottery and Guessing Games

Lottery guessing game
Tossing Game
Race Horse Keno
The match Game

Glossary of Game Terms


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