Canasta Card Game Rules - How to Play Canasta !

 Kevin Brown
  Dec 14, 2018

Canasta is an American card game that belongs to the Rummy family. It is a fun card game but it can prove to be a bit difficult to play for newbies. To play this game, a total of 4 players are needed that can be split into two teams. But three or two individual players can also play this game if they wish to. Playing canasta is a great way to socialize within small groups because one full canasta game goes on for an hour or more than that. For playing Canasta, two full decks of cards are needed including two jokers from every deck which makes it total 108 cards.

Canasta Card Game

The objective of the canasta card game

The objective of this game is to outscore the opposite team. You score points in Canasta by forming melds, meld is a combination of three or more cards of the same rank, with or without the help of the wild cards. A canasta is a meld with at least seven cards.

How to play Canasta?

  1. First, the cards are shuffled and each player from both teams is dealt 11 cards.
  2. Every player gets a turn in which he or she has to pick up the card or deck. The player is allowed to put a meld or melds down on the table and discard one card at the end of every turn. The turn to play rotates clockwise.
  3. The play goes on until one player goes out when he or she has no more cards in their hand.
  4. At this stage, each team’s points are recorded.
  5. The game is over when a total score of 5000 is reached by either of the team. The team or the player that scores 5000 points first is the winner.

Canasta game rules:

  • When four players are playing, two teams with two players in each team are formed. Teammates sit across the table from one another. If there are just two or three players, then there is no need to form the teams, each player can play individually.
  • One player shuffles the deck and then the player who is sitting left of the shuffler will deal 11 cards to each player, face down.
  • Every player picks up the cards that are dealt to them and make sure the cards are hidden from the opposite team.
  • Remaining cards of the deck are placed face down in the middle in a pile that is referred to as stock. The top card of this pile is flipped over and placed next to the stock, it will start a discard pile.
  • Whenever a player finds a red 3 card during the game, they have to place the red 3 card face up on the table and draw a replacement card from the stock. There is 100 points bonus for each red 3 cards but if a team or a player gets all four red 3s then 200 points are counted per card making it 800 points in total.

Know your cards!

Natural cards:

Ace: 20 points

K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8 : 10 points

7, 6, 5, 4: 5 points

Black 3: 5 points

Wild cards:

joker : 50 points

2’s : 20 points

Special card:

Red 3: 100 points(200 if one team or player gets all four)

  • A meld can be formed with natural cards with the same numerical rank with or without wild cards. A valid meld is the one that has two or more natural cards and not more than three wild cards
  • A meld with at least 7 cards is a canasta. A natural canasta is a meld with at least seven natural cards and no wild cards.
  • The player is allowed to take a card from discarded pile if the top card is used to start a new mend or fits in the existing mend.

Canasta rules for access to the discarded pile

When the turn comes, each player can draw a card from the top of the stock. In case of a certain scenario, a player can pick up the entire discard pile and add to the cards at hand. To pick up a discard pile, the player should know if the discard pile is frozen or unfrozen.

Taking frozen discard pile:

  • The player needs to have two matching natural cards in his or her hand in order to pick up the frozen discard pile. Then the player needs to combine the handheld matching cards with the top card of the discard pile and place this newly formed meld on the table. This meld should have at least three natural cards that are, two or more cards from players hand and one card from the top of the discard pile. Once the meld is placed, the player can add remaining discard pile to his or her hand and the deck becomes unfrozen towards the player. The player who picked up the discard pile can place additional melds down on the table.
  • The discard pile is frozen during the play when opposing team or player discards a wild card. The player having immediate next turn after the discard pile has frozen cannot pick up the discard pile. Any team would be able to pick up the discard pile only when a natural card is discarded on the top of the freezing card.
  • At times during the play, the deck is intentionally frozen by a player when he or she wants to discard some particular cards that the opposing team might have already melded.

Unfrozen discard pile:

A player can take an unfrozen discard pile by:

  • Forming a mold using two or more held natural cards and the top card of the discard pile.
  • Melding the top card of discard pile with one held, matching natural card and one held, wild card.
  • Adding the top card of discard pile to a meld the player or player’s teammate has already placed on the table
  • Once created the new meld, the player combines rest of the discard pile with his or her handheld cards and may play some additional melds.
  • Going out
  • Once a team has canasta, the player from the team is allowed to go out and end the game. A player can go out when he or she has no more cards left in their hands. The player can discard his last card and go out.
  • There is one concept called going out concealed which means a player or a team goes out without opening. Going out concealed can prove to be an effective strategy for you but it is equally dangerous. Using this strategy you can catch the opposite team players unaware and they can gain plenty of negative points. But if the opposite team player goes out before you do and you have all your cards in hand, you will be left with a significant number of negative points.

Scoring system

After one round is over, every player has to count the points they have acquired during the round and calculate the total game score. The team is awarded the points for the cards that are melded minus the points for the cards that are left in the players hand.

Canasta

Mixed : 300

Natural : 500

Going out: 100 points

Going out concealed: extra 100

Team that achieves 5000 points first is the winning team!

If you are wondering how to play canasta cards game online, don’t worry, rules are exactly same for playing canasta online. Have a happy gaming!

Canasta Card Game Rules - How to Play Canasta !

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown is a journalist at his own start-up, born and residing in Seattle, Washington. He has a knack of reading up newspaper articles and coming up with summaries and points of view, hence taking up a profession similar to his interest. Simply covering events and activities is something he can do as good as a professional, but he seems to enjoy writing on events that need viewpoints and suggestions.

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