Canasta is a popular card game that originated in Uruguay in the 1940s and has since spread to become a favorite among card players around the world. This game is typically played with four players in two partnerships of two. If you are new to this game and would like to learn how to play, follow these clear and concise instructions.
- Canasta is played with two decks of standard playing cards, including jokers. This means there are 108 cards total.
- Remove all the jokers and twos from the decks, leaving 104 cards.
- Shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal 11 cards to each player.
- The remaining cards form the stockpile and are placed face down in the center of the table.
- Turn over the top card of the stockpile and place it next to the stockpile. This card is the beginning of the discard pile.
Object of the Game: The goal of Canasta is to score more points than your opponents by forming melds, or combinations, of cards and laying them down on the table. The first team to score 5,000 points wins the game.
- The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They can either draw the top card from the stockpile or take the entire discard pile if they can use the top card in a meld.
- Once a player has drawn or picked up the discard pile, they must discard one card from their hand onto the discard pile.
- A player’s turn ends when they have discarded a card, unless they are able to go out, which is explained in the next step.
- If a player’s team has not yet laid down a meld, they are not allowed to discard a card and must keep at least one card in their hand.
- Going out: To go out, also known as declaring “Canasta,” a player must have at least one Canasta (explained below) and be able to meld all of their remaining cards. This must be done on a player’s turn before they discard. Once a team has declared Canasta, both players are allowed to go out in subsequent turns.
- Melds: A meld is a combination of three or more cards of the same rank, known as a set, or a sequence of at least four cards in the same suit, known as a run. A Canasta is a meld of seven or more cards, including at least four natural cards (no wild cards) and no more than three wild cards. Any cards in a Canasta can be added to other melds, but no more than three wild cards can be added to a set or run.
- Wild cards: Jokers and twos are wild cards and can be used as a substitute for any card in a meld.
- Red threes: If a player has a red three in their hand, it must be played face up on the table and replaced with a card from the stockpile or a card from the top of the discard pile. Red threes cannot be melded.
- Black threes: If a player has a black three in their hand, it can be melded with two other threes to form a Canasta.
- Going out and melding: A player must always have at least one card in their hand after melding. If a player has melded all their cards in previous turns and the discard pile is the only card remaining, they must take the entire discard pile and add it to their hand. The player must then meld and have at least one card remaining in their hand to go out.
- Red three: 100 points each.
- Black three in a Canasta: 200 points each.
- Natural Canasta: 500 points.
- Mixed Canasta: 300 points.
- Wild card: 50 points each.
- Runs: 5 points per card.
- Sets: 10 points per card.
- Deuces: 20 points each.
- Jokers: 50 points each.
Ending the game: The game ends when one team reaches or exceeds 5,000 points. The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next round.
In conclusion, Canasta is an exciting and strategic card game that can be enjoyed by players of all levels. Remember to pay attention to the cards that are being discarded, as this can give you valuable information about your opponents’ hands. With these instructions, you are now ready to gather some friends and family, shuffle those cards, and start playing Canasta!