Canasta is a fun partnership game that requires players to form as many melds as possible. The game requires the players to team up and form as many melds as they can. No this might sound easy but the game uses 2 52-decks of standard playing cards plus 4 extra jokers. Also, it has a very diverse set of rules which make it even more interesting to play.
So, if you are interested to play Canasta, here is all about the game – how to deal, how to form partnerships, how to play, how to Canasta, how to keep scores and so on. Keep reading further to know more.
· Canasta game goal – The aim of the game is to form as many melds as possible. A meld consists of three of more cards of the same rank, and jokers can be used as wild cards to help form melds.
· Total Number of Players – 4 players
· Total Number of Cards – Double 52-card decks plus four jokers (108 cards in all) or you can also use the Specialty Canasta Deck.
· Order of Cards – Joker, 2, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 (highest to lowest)
· Game Type – Rummy Card game
Given below is the scoring of cards and their value in Canasta –
· Red 3 cards = 100 or 200 points
· Jokers = 50 Points
· Aces & Deuces = 20 points
· Card values between 8 – K = 10 points
· Cards values between 4 – 7 = 5 points
· Black 3 card = 5 Points
In Canasta, there is a unique way in which players form partners. Players have to draw cards from the deck in order to form partnerships. The player who draws the highest-ranking card from the deck gets to decide their seat and plays first.
The player with the second highest ranking card is the partner of the player who has the highest-ranking card. The ranking of cards for picking partners in Canasta is as below –
A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 / Spades (high), hearts, diamonds, clubs.
In case a player draws an equal card or a joker then they have to draw once again. The partners have to sit across each other.
How to Deal
The deal moves clockwise and begins with the player to the right of the player who first drew the highest card. Any player can shuffle but the dealer shuffles last. After the last shuffle, the player to the left of the dealer cuts the deck.
The dealer deals 11 cards to each player faced down and one at a time in a clockwise manner. The rest of the cards are placed at the center of the table as Stock pile. The top most card of the stock pile is flipped over for the players to see.
The top most card of the stock pile if turns out to be a joker, three or deuce, then another card has to be turned on the top till it turns out to be a Natural Card. So basically, the top most card of the stock pile has to be a Natural Card.
Red threes are equal to 100 points per piece. But if a team collects all the 4 red threes, then each piece is worth 200 points. However, just note that a red three can be valued only when the team has made a successful Meld.
But if the game ends and then still has no meld, then the red threes are not counted but are debited against the score of that team.
There are 3 cases when a player gets a red three and this is what they must to in those cases –
1. In case a player gets a red three, they have to place it faced up on the table and replace that card with another one.
2. In case a player draws a red three from the Stock pile, they have to replace that card and draw another one by placing the red three faced up on the table.
3. When a player draws a red three from the discard pike, they have to place that card faced up on the table but it is not mandatory for them to pick up another card for replacement.
How to Play
The game begins when a player draws a card from the stock pile or from the Discard pile. The player can then lay down a meld if possible and then discard one card to the discard pile. This will end their turn.
In case a player takes the top card from the discard pile to form a meld, then they have to pick up the whole discard pile.
How to Make Melds in Canasta
Melds are combinations of 3 or more cards having the same rank. According to Canasta rules, all players must have 2 natural cards to every wild card and a meld should not have more than 3 wild cards.
A player can meld a set of three blacks only when they are going out. Cards left in the hand of a player once the game ends, will be counted against the score of the player, even if it is a meld. The melds that are placed on the table are only counted as plus.
The opposite team can create melds of the same rank. The players can add to the existing melds only till the meld is valid which means it does not have more than 3 wild cards. But no player can add to their opponents’ melds.
How to Canasta
For those wondering, Canasta is a Run of 7 cards of the same rank. According to the card types, there are 2 types of Canasta –
1. Natural Canasta
For formation of a Natural Canasta, a player must get 7 cards of the same rank without using Wildcards. To show a natural canasta, a player has to lay the stack of all the 7 cards on the table with the top card in red. A natural Canasta can get a player 500 points plus the point values of card in the Canasta. So, if a player has to show a natural canasta of 6s,then they have to stack the cards such that the top card is either a heart or a diamond of 6.
2. Unnatural Canasta
An Unnatural Canasta is a Run made of 7 cards having the same rank but with the use of Wild cards like Deuces, Jokers, etc. In order to display an unnatural canasta, a player has to stack the cards and place the black rank card on the top of that stack. An unnatural canasta is worth 300 points along with the extra points of the separate cards according to their base value points.
When the first round of the game ends and before the next round begins, at the end of each round, the players have to take a look at their current scores and announce the number of points that will be needed for their first meld in the next round. The values of the meld are as below
· Minus Score = Meld must equal 15 points
· 0 to 1,495 score = Meld must equal 50 points
· 1,500 to 2,995 score = Meld must equal 90 points
· 3,000 or more = Meld must equal 120 points
The Meld count is the total value of cards that form the meld. In order to meet the minimum target, a player has to make 2 or more melds. In case a player takes the top card from the discard pile but no other card will count towards the requirement.
Also, note that the bonus points for red threes and Canastas will not be counted towards the minimum. The minimum count is needed only for the first meld. The melds after that are acceptable without taking into consideration their point values.
The Discard Pile – Canasta Rules
Until and unless teams have created their first meld, they cannot puck up card from the discard pile. When a team creates their first meld, then both the team members can pick up from the discard pile.
Freezing Discard Pile –
The discard pile is frozen when the top most card in the Discard pile is either of the three –
1. Wild card
2. Red three
3. Black three
To show that the discard pile is frozen, the top most card is placed in an angle perpendicular to the discard pile.
In order to unfreeze the Discard pile, the pile has to be taken. To do so, a natural card has to be discarded on the top of the frozen discarded pile. This will take the pile and unfreeze it.
Discard Pile is open for players to take out only in the below conditions –
1. The player shows the board a pair of natural cards in his hand before he picks up from the discard pile.
2. When the discard pile has a Natural Card at the top.
3. If the player has a Natural pair in hand that matches the top most card from the discard pile.
In case the Discard Pile is not frozen, a player can take from the Discard pile when the below conditions are met –
1. If that player has one Natural Card and One Wild Card in their hand in order to accompany the top most card.
2. If the player can add the top most card to a meld they have on the table.
3. The player has a pair of Natural cards in their hand that match the top card.
A player can the rest of the cards from the pile to their hand so as to form a meld and discard one card in order to end their turn. Just note that no player can picking up the top card from the discard pile is until their team has formed the initial meld.
How to Go out?
A player can go out only when their team has made a Canasta. No player can go out until their team has made at least one Canasta. A player can go out either by discarding their final card or adding their final card to an existing meld.
Players do not have to discard when they are going out. Also, no player can pick up discard pile when there is only 1 card in their hand and also only one card in the discard pile.
A player also has the option to go out in concealed hand. This means that they meld all of their hand in one turn. In case a player goes out in this concealed way but their partner has to still meet the prior meld requirement, then they have to meet the initial meld requirement by themselves.
How to Keep Score?
In order to keep score in Canasta, players have to keep the score on paper sheet with 2 columns – ‘we’ and ‘they’. Here is a way of keep track of the scores in Canasta –
· For each natural canasta = 500
· Mixed canasta = 300
· For each Red three = 100 (All 4 red threes equal to 800)
· For going out = 100
· For going out concealed (extra) = 100
In order to calculate their score, players have to add up their score and then minus the value of cards left in their hand when they are going out.
Who wins Canasta?
The first team that scores 5000 points wins Canasta.
That was it all about Canasta game. I hope you have found above guide of use. In case you have any doubts, feel free to let us know in the comments below. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Can two people play Canasta?
Unfortunately, the classic version of Canasta is to be played among 4 players. But you can always modify the rules a little to play with 2 players but it will surely change the game experience.
When the discard pile is not frozen and a card matching the next players existing meld is discarded, can that next player pick up only the top card or does he have to take the entire discard pile?
Yes, the player must pick up the whole discard pile to gain that card to meld.
If a player picks up the last stock card then discards, and after discarding if they still have a card in their hand after that discard, then can the next player pick up the discard and play it?
Yes, they can as long as the discard pile is not frozen.