Samba

Samba is an expansion upon Canasta that adds more cards and more melds! In Samba, you can meld sequences of the same suit, a feature found in most rummy games but absent in Canasta. The number of cards available is bigger in Samba, too—it’s played with a triple deck, compared to the double deck used in Canasta! Like Canasta, it is a partnership game for four players.

Samba was borne of the Canasta craze of the early 1950s, and, for a time, was a fad itself. Some playing card manufacturers cashed in on the trend by selling prepackaged triple decks of cards, marketed for use in Samba.

Object of Samba

The object of Samba is to be the first partnership to reach the lofty score of 10,000 points. Points are scored by forming melds: combinations of three or more cards of the same rank, or three or more cards of the same suit in sequence. Special attention is given to expanding these melds to their maximum size of seven cards.

Setup

Samba uses a gargantuan deck of cards for a non-casino game: 162 cards in all. To form this monster, shuffle together three decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards with the same back design, being sure to include the jokers. You’ll also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper works well, but anything that can accommodate a five-digit score should work.

Figure out who’s partners with who by whatever method you want. Each player should sit across from their partner, so that as the turn of play progresses clockwise around the table, it alternates between teams.

Shuffle and deal fifteen cards to each player. Place the deck in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up and place it next to the stock. This turned-up card is the first card in the discard pile.

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as bonus cards. When a player gets one, they simply lay them out in front of them, and a new card is drawn to replace the 3. 100 points each. If you collect all six, they score 1,000 for the whole set. If a partnership fails to form two seven-card melds of any type before the end of the hand, however, red 3s score negative instead of positive.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points each.
  • 2s: 2s are also wild. 20 points each.
  • Aces: 20 points each.
  • Ks–8s: 10 points each.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points each.
  • Black 3s: Can only be melded at the end of the hand, and prevent the discard pile from being taken when one is the upcard. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

The player on the dealer’s left goes first. A player begins their turn by drawing. They always have the option of drawing one card from the stock. However, if the top card of the discard pile can, by itself, be legally added to a meld that the player’s team already holds, or they hold two other natural cards of the same rank to form a new meld with, they can take the entire discard pile into their hand. (There is one caveat to this, explained below in “Freezing the discard pile”.) Note that you cannot take just the top card or any portion of the discard pile—it’s gotta be the whole thing. While this seems like an odd choice to make in a game where you’re trying to eventually run out of cards, a big discard pile usually has ample opportunities for forming and expanding melds.

After a player has drawn, they may meld as much as they are able and want to. (If a player takes the discard pile, they must immediately meld the top card of that discard pile.) In general, a player can lay down new melds, as well as add to existing ones. There are a few restrictions on melding, though, as described below. When a player is satisfied with their melds for that turn, they discard one card, and the turn passes to their opponent on the left.

Melding

There are two types of meld in Samba, the set and the sequence, the latter of which is also called an escalera (Spanish for ladder). A set consists of three to seven cards of the same rank. An escalera is made up of three to seven cards of the same suit, in consecutive order. For the purposes of escaleras, aces rank high, and the cards proceed in their usual order down to the 4. (Black 3s cannot be used in escaleras.)

Note that the discard pile cannot be taken in order to form a new escalera. The discard pile can be taken if its top card would be able to extend the escalera without any other cards from the hand being used.

When a player forms a meld, they may play it on their turn, placing it face up on the table. Melds should be kept fanned out, and clearly separate from each other. Each partnership shares melds, and each player can add to their partner’s melds as well as those they’ve already played. A partnership can have multiple sets of the same rank, or multiple escaleras of the same suit. A player may combine two existing sets into one big set, although they cannot divide a larger set into smaller ones. (Escaleras may not be merged or split.)

Jokers and 2s are both wild cards, and can substitute for any other card in a set. Any given set may not contain more than two wild cards. Wild cards can only be used in sets; they are prohibited in escaleras. A meld that contains no wilds is said to be natural or clean, while one containing at least one wild is mixed or dirty.

The initial meld

Players are required to meet a point threshold the first time their partnership melds, depending on their score at the beginning of the hand. The player may use as many melds as they need to in order to exceed this threshold. Once a partnership has made their initial meld, they are no longer subject to any minimum meld value.

The initial meld values are:

Score Minimum
Below 0 15*
0–1,499 50
1,500–2,999 90
3,000–6,999 120
7,000–9,999 160

*A minimum of 15 exists only by virtue of no valid meld having a score below this.

Canastas and sambas

Melds are capped at a maximum size of seven cards. A set reaching this size is called a canasta, and a seven-card escalera is called a samba. To indicate this, the meld is squared up into a pile. Natural canastas are indicated with a red card on top, mixed canastas with a black card on top, and sambas are turned face down. No more cards can be added to a canasta or samba.

Freezing the discard pile

Should a red 3 or wild card end up in the discard pile, either by being the initial upcard, or (in the case of wild cards) by being intentionally discarded there, the discard pile is considered frozen. The offending card is placed at right angles to the pile, causing it to stick out when further cards are placed on top of it. When the discard pile is frozen, it may only be taken if its top card can be used to form a new meld with two or more natural cards of the same rank from the hand (i.e. you cannot take a frozen discard pile to add to an existing meld). A discard pile topped by a wild card can never be taken.

Depletion of the stock

It is rare that the stock is depleted before someone goes out. Nevertheless, if it does happen, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players taking the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable to take the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as usual.

If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play stops. This player is not entitled to discard.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must have formed at least two seven-card melds (canastas or sambas). At this point, a player may go out by disposing of their remaining cards, either by forming new melds, adding to existing ones, or discarding.

Before going out, a player may ask their partner “May I go out?” This is done to avoid having a high total value of cards held by the partner charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer the partner gives is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership. In that case, their answer is binding, with results that can end up being pretty hilarious.

Scoring

After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score (except for any undeclared red 3s, which are handled as discussed in “Penalties” below). The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Natural canastas and sambas: 500 points each.
  • Mixed canastas and sambas: 300 points each.
  • Red 3s: 100 points each, unless all six are held, in which case they are 166⅔ points each (for a total of 1,000). If a partnership has not completed at least two seven-card melds, they score –100 for each red 3, or –1,000 for all six.
  • Going out: 200 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, if neither partnership has reached 10,000 points, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. If one or both partnerships has exceeded a score of 10,000, the partnership with the higher score at that point wins the game.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • Undeclared red 3s at end of hand: –500 points each.
  • Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
  • Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
  • Taking the upcard when unable to use it: –50 points.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Burraco

Burraco is a Rummy game much like Canasta. It is best played by four players in partnerships. Burraco adds several interesting features to Canasta, such as an extra hand each team must play before going out and the ability to meld runs rather than just sets of the same rank.

The Canasta branch of the Rummy family originates in South America. Burraco is most likely an evolution of one of several similarly-named games played there. At some point, it migrated across the Atlantic to Italy, where it really hit its stride. Burraco is incredibly popular there, played in tournaments with an official governing body!

Object of Burraco

The object of Burraco is to score 2,000 points before your opponent by forming melds of three or more cards of the same rank, and burracos, which are melds of seven or more cards of the same rank.

Setup

To play, you’ll need to shuffle together two decks (preferably of the same back design and color) of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, including the jokers. This will give you a 108-card deck. You’ll also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper. If you’re really confident in your math skills, go ahead and use a pen. You might impress someone.

Determine partnerships by whatever method works for your group. Dealing out four cards and the two highs versus the two lows is a good way of doing it if you want a random method. Of course, if you can just agree on partnerships, so much the better. You could go further at this point and come up with team uniforms, mascots, and chants too, but that would be sort of silly. In any case, each player should sit opposite of their partner, so that as the turn goes around the table it alternates between partnerships.

Shuffle. The player to the dealer’s right cuts the deck. The dealer takes the bottom part of the deck and deals eleven cards to each player. Meanwhile, the player who cut retains the top part of the deck and, dealing from the bottom of the stack, makes two piles of eleven cards each. These two piles are called the pozzetti. Stack the pozzetti, putting them at right angles to one another to keep them separate. Place the bottom part of the deck atop the top part, completing the cut and forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up, forming the discard pile.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They may draw either the top card of the stock or take the entire discard pile into their hand. Once that is done, they may lay down any melds they have. Then, they end their turn by discarding.

It should be noted that when you draw from the discard, you take the entire pile, not just the top card. Also, unlike in Canasta, there is no requirement that you have to be able to immediately use the top card of the discard—you can take the discard pile whenever you want! There is one restriction: if there is only one card in the discard pile and you take it, you cannot discard this card on the same turn. This is to prevent a player from presenting the same card their opponent on their right discarded to their opponent on their left. (Note that if you have the other card of the same rank and suit as the card you just drew, discarding the other card is totally fine!)

Melding

There are two types of meld in Burraco. The first is the set, which is three or more cards of the same rank. The second is the run or sequence, which is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit (cards rank in their usual order). As players form melds, they may lay them down face up on the table. Each player shares melds with their partner, and can add on to melds laid down by either player on any previous turn. A player may meld as many cards as they want on any single turn.

Aces may be played either high or low in sequences, but a meld cannot have more than one ace in it (i.e. you cannot have an ace at each end of the sequence). You can have more than one sequence of a given suit, but you cannot merge two melds that happen to grow to the same endpoints into one big meld. You also cannot divide one run into smaller melds.

Each partnership can only have one set for each rank. You cannot have a set of jokers or 2s.

Wild cards

Jokers and 2s are considered wild cards. Each meld can only contain one wild card (one joker or one 2, not one of each). In a meld, a wild card can take the place of any natural card.

In runs, a 2 can also be used as its natural value (e.g. in a run of ). 2s are not counted as wild cards when they are used in such a way. For example, 2-3-4♥-★ contains just one wild card—the joker. If there is no other wild card in a meld, a 2 used as its natural value can be pressed into service as a wild card. With a meld of 2-3-4♥, a player could add the 6♥ by changing the 2 into a wild (i.e. form 3-4-2-6♥, with the 2 standing in for the 5♥).

A wild card must always be placed at the low end of a run if it is not being used for one of the inside cards. For example, 7♠-★-9♠ is a valid meld, but 7-8♠-★ is not (it should be corrected to ★-7-8♠). If a player wishes to later extend the sequence upward using the joker, move the joker to the high end position. For example, if a player holds the 10♠ with a meld on the table of ★-7-8♠, they can move the joker to the end to make 7-8♠-★-10♠. This rule is to prevent a player from conveying to their partner which direction they want the run extended in.

If a player obtains a natural card that is already represented in one of their runs as a wild card, the player can place that card into the meld. For example, with a meld of 7-8♠-★-10♠, a player could replace the joker if they pick up a 9♠. The resulting meld would be ★-7-8-9-10♠. The melded wild card then moves to its usual position at the low end of the sequence. Note that you cannot replace one wild card with another wild card (e.g. to force a wild 2 into becoming a natural card).

Burrachi

Any meld of seven or more cards is called a burraco. If a burraco has no wild cards, it is called a clean burraco. Otherwise, it is a dirty burraco. A clean burraco is worth more points at the end of the hand than a dirty one.

Traditionally, a burraco is indicated by turning the end card at right angles to the rest of the cards. Clean burrachi are denoted by turning a second card in addition to the first.

Taking a pozzetto

When a player runs completely out of cards, they are able to take one of the pozzetti from the center of the table. If they take the pozzetto in the middle of a turn (i.e. before they discard), they simply pick it up and continue on with their turn. When a player discards their last card instead, they take the pozzetto but keep it face down in front of them until their next turn. This is to keep them from passing any information about their holdings to their partner.

After one player has taken a pozzetto, the other one is reserved for their opponents. The first player of the opposing partnership to run out of cards takes that pozzetto. Once a partnership has taken care of their pozzetti, when either player runs out of cards, they must be able to close instead.

Ending the hand

A player can close, ending the hand, as long as the following conditions are met:

  • That partnership has already picked up their pozzetto. (It is not necessary for the player who took the pozzetto to be the one that goes out.)
  • That side has at least one burraco.
  • They end their final turn with a discard. That is, they cannot meld all of their cards without discarding.
  • The final discard cannot be a wild card.

The hand also ends automatically if the stock is drawn down to two cards. After the player who drew the third-from-last card completes their turn, game play stops.

One other way the hand can end is with a stalemate. This is when the discard pile only has one card in it, and each of the players takes a turn where they simply draw the preceding player’s discard. After four turns (a complete orbit) of this, the hand ends.

Scoring

After the hand ends for any reason, each partnership totals the values of the cards in their melds, then subtracts the values of the cards left in their hands. Card values are as follows:

  • Jokers: 30 points each.
  • 2s: 20 points each.
  • Aces: 15 points each.
  • Ks–8s: 10 points each.
  • 7s–3s: 5 points each.

Additionally, each partnership scores the following bonuses, if applicable:

  • Clean burrachi: 200 points each.
  • Dirty burrachi: 100 points each.
  • Closing: 100 points. If neither team actually closed (due to stock depletion or stalemate), neither gets this bonus.

If a partnership failed to pick up their pozzetto, they take a –100 point penalty. The only exception is if a player got their pozzetto but never got to look at it; in this case the pozzetto is treated like the player’s hand and scored appropriately.

Game play continues until one partnership exceeds a score of 2,000 points. Whichever team has the higher score at that point is the winner.

See also

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Mille

Mille is a Rummy-type game that plays very similar to Canasta. Unlike Canasta, however, Mille is played by two solo players, not partnerships. Mille is likely of Canadian origin, beginning in Quebec and spreading east into Ontario by the 1990s. While it’s possible to play Mille just for fun, it is typically played for money.

Object of Mille

The object of Mille is to be the first player to score 1,200 points by melding cards of the same rank.

Setup

Mille uses a 104-card deck formed by shuffling together two standard 52-card decks with the same back design. (Unlike Canasta, Mille does not use jokers.) We, of course, would be overjoyed to know you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game. You will also need something to keep score with; pencil and paper is probably your best bet.

The players should mutually agree as to whether to play for money, and if so, how much the stakes will be. Stakes are typically expressed as two dollar amounts, the second three times as much as the first, e.g. $1-$3, $2-6, $50-$150, etc. (The purpose of these amounts will be described in “Ending the game” below.)

Shuffle and deal fifteen cards to each player. Place the remainder of the pack face down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn one card face up from the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Play of the hand

The non-dealer goes first. As in most rummy games, a turn consists of drawing, melding if able, and then discarding. If a player has two or more cards in their hand of the same rank as the upcard, they may immediately meld the upcard along with these cards, then take the entire discard pile into their hand. Otherwise, they draw one card from the stock.

After drawing, the player may lay down, face up, as many melds as they have in their hand. A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank. Melding is optional; a player may choose to retain an entire meld or some cards of the same rank in their hand. All cards of the same rank that are laid down by a player are considered to form one meld. If a player melded, say, three kings, then on later turn melded three more, this would form one six-card meld.

2s are considered wild cards, and may be melded alongside any other combination of cards. Note, however, that players who do not meld any 2s are awarded a bonus. Three or more 2s can also be laid down as a meld of 2s, which does not prevent the player from claiming the bonus. A 2 cannot be used to take the discard pile; this can only be done with two or more natural cards of the same rank as the upcard.

After melding, the player discards one card, and the turn passes to the next player, with this discard as the new upcard for the next player’s turn. If the stock is depleted, the upcard is set aside and the remainder of the discard pile is shuffled and turned face down to form a new stock.

The hand ends when one player has melded or discarded all of their cards. A player may discard on the turn they go out, but if they are able to exhaust their hand by melding all of their cards, they may end the hand without discarding.

Scoring

The cards in Mille have the following values:

  • Q♠: 100 points
  • J♦: 50 points
  • Aces: 15 points each
  • K-10: 10 points each
  • 9-3: 5 points each
  • 2s: 20 points each

If a player manages to meld all eight cards of one rank without using any wild cards, this is called a natural, and the value of this meld is doubled in their hand score. If the player did not meld any 2s at all (other than as part of a meld of 2s), this is also considered a natural, and the value of all of their melded cards is doubled. When a player scores a natural of either type, it is indicated on the score sheet with an asterisk next to their score for that hand. If a player scores both types of natural, two asterisks are recorded on the score sheet, the natural meld scores 4× the value of the cards, and all other cards score double.

At the end of the hand, each player scores the total value of the all the cards they have melded, then they deduct the value of any cards left in their hand. As a result, It is possible that the player who did not go out can have a net negative score for the hand; this is called a chapeau (French for “hat”) and the negative hand score is circled on the score sheet.

Ending the game

The game ends when one player has scored 1,200 or more. This player is the winner.

If the losing player failed to score at least 600 points, this is a skunk. If the losing player ended  the hand with a negative score, it is a double skunk.

If playing for money, the loser pays the winner according to the stakes. As mentioned before, the stakes are expressed as two amounts, e.g. $1-$3. Using these values, the loser pays:

  • The larger amount once for losing the game.
  • The larger amount once for each natural scored by the winner.
  • The larger amount once for each of the loser’s chapeaux.
  • The smaller amount is paid once for each 100-point difference in score between the two players. To calculate this, round the scores to the nearest 100, subtract the smaller from the larger, and divide the difference by 100.

In the event of a skunk, the payment is doubled; in the event of a double skunk, the payment is tripled.

See also

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot is a North American variant of Canasta. Like its parent game, it is best for four players in partnerships. Hand and Foot adds a twist to the basic game of Canasta by introducing more cards—a lot more cards—and giving each player two hands to have to contend with. It gives a partnership more specific requirements to fulfill before going out.

Object of Hand and Foot

The object of Hand and Foot is to score more points than your opponents by forming melds of three or more cards and piles, which are melds of seven cards.

Setup

The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.

Hand and Foot requires a 270-card deck consisting of five standard 52-card decks plus jokers, a truly impressive number of cards for a non-casino game. If you’ve got five sets of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, well, you’re one of our best customers and we love you. Shuffle the decks together (it might help to use the multiple-deck shuffling technique). Split the deck in two, forming the stocks, with a gap between the two halves of the deck for the discard pile.

Unlike in most games, in Hand and Foot, the players are responsible for dealing their own cards. Each player takes a small portion of one of the stocks and deals two piles of eleven cards face down in front of them. If a player managed to pull exactly 22 cards from the stock, they immediately score a 100-point bonus. Otherwise, any excess cards are returned to the stock. Each player selects one of the eleven-card piles as their hand, and the other eleven cards are passed to their right, forming that player’s foot. The foot is kept face-down in front of the player.

One card from one of the stocks is turned face-up and placed between them. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, discard it face-down into one of the stocks and draw another card.

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
  • Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Cannot be melded. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding.

A player begins their turn by drawing. They may draw either the top two cards of one of the stock piles or the top seven cards of the discard pile (or the whole pile if it contains less than seven cards). In order to draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately meld the top card of the discard pile with two cards from their hand. (The other six cards are inaccessible to them until they demonstrate that they can legally meld the top card.) If this is the partnership’s first meld for the hand, additional cards from the hand may be melded alongside it in order to satisfy the opening-meld requirement. Because black 3s cannot be melded, a player may never draw from the discard pile if the upcard is a black 3. If the top card of the discard pile is a wild card, then the player can only draw from the discard pile if the player is holding two other cards of the same rank (e.g. if there is a joker on the discard pile, you need two other jokers to draw from it, you cannot substitute twos for the jokers).

After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the round of the game:

  • First round: 50 points
  • Second round: 90 points
  • Third round: 120 points
  • Fourth round: 150 points

A meld consists of three to seven cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). A meld can contain no more than one wild card in a meld of three, four, or five cards and no more than two in a meld of six or seven. A player can also make a meld that consists of all wild cards.

After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership on that hand is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate incomplete melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven cards is called a pile, so called because it is traditionally denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile. A pile with no wilds, or a pile with only wilds, is called a clean pile, while a pile with a mix of natural cards and wilds is called a dirty pile. This distinction is important because clean piles score higher. The type of pile is traditionally indicated by its top card; clean piles are squared up with a red card on top, and dirty piles with a black card on top. A pile cannot contain more than seven cards; once a pile has been completed, a new meld of the same rank can be established.

Picking up the foot

When a player has exhausted their hand, they may then pick up their foot pile and play with it. If the player manages to run out of cards before discarding (i.e. through melding), they may simply pick up their foot at that time and continue their turn. If the player gets rid of their final card through discarding, they pick up the foot at the beginning of their next turn.

Depletion of the stock

In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players drawing from the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable or unwilling to draw from the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.

If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must meet the following conditions: they must have completed two clean piles, two dirty piles, and one wild pile, both players must have played at least part of one turn with their foot piles, and the player wishing to go out must have received permission to go out from their partner.

Permission to go out is received by simply asking the partner “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.

After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score. The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Wild piles: 1500 points each.
  • Clean piles: 500 points each.
  • Dirty piles: 300 points each.
  • Red threes: 100 points each.
  • Going out: 100 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. The game ends after four hands have been played. The partnership with the highest score at that point is the winner.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
  • Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
  • Attempting to draw from the discard pile when unable to use the upcard: –50 points.

See also

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Canasta

Canasta is a classic game for four players in partnerships. Originating in Uruguay in 1940, and further developed throughout the 1940s in Argentina, the game of Canasta became a fad in United States the early 1950s, challenging the popularity of the other popular partnership game of the 20th century, Contract Bridge. Since then, the game has evolved into a world-wide classic.

Canasta has the disadvantage of having a lot of intricacies to its rules, and rules that depend a lot on the scoring system, meaning that it can be somewhat overwhelming to novice players. Once it gets going, however, it is a quick and fun game.

Object of Canasta

The object of the game is to score 5,000 points before your opponent by forming melds of three or more cards of the same rank, and canastas, which are melds of seven or more cards of the same rank.

Setup

The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.

Canasta uses a 108-card deck, consisting of two standard decks of playing cards, plus Jokers, shuffled together. The backs of both decks of cards should be identical. If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, pat yourself on the back for your smart purchasing decisions. You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus. We recommend either a pencil and paper or a smartphone application, since abacuses that go up to 5,000 are kind of hard to find in this day and age.

Deal 11 cards to each player. Set the rest of the deck in the center of the table, forming the stock, and turn one card face-up next to it. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, turn another card over from the stock to cover it (continue turning cards until the upcard is something other than one of these three ranks). If the discard pile started with one of these three cards, it is considered frozen (see below).

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
  • Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Can only be melded at the end of the hand, and prevent the discard pile from being taken when one is the upcard. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them. Red 3s found in the discard pile are not replaced, however.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding. A player may not deplete their hand of cards unless they meet specific requirements for going out, as described below.

When drawing, the player has the option to draw the top card of the stock, or to draw the upcard. To draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately use the upcard in a meld (either by forming a new meld or extending an existing one with it); upon doing so, the player takes the entire discard pile into their hand! (This is a very good thing; the discard pile is often large and contains many things that are useful to the player.) Under some circumstances, however, the discard pile is frozen, which further restricts the ability of the player to take the discard pile—see below. A player also cannot take the discard pile when the upcard is a black 3.

After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the partnership’s score at the beginning of that hand:

Score Minimum
Below 0 15
0–1499 50
1500–2999 90
3000–4999 120

Note that a partnership with a negative score really has no “minimum” requirement; a minimum of 15 exists only by virtue of no valid meld having a score below this.

A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). At least two cards must be natural (i.e. not a wild card), and a meld can never contain more than three wild cards.

After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven or more cards is called a canasta, which, if you were wondering, is Spanish for “basket”. Canastas involving wild cards are called mixed canastas (canastas sucias or “dirty canastas” in Spanish), and canastas free of wild cards are called natural canastas (canastas limpias, or “clean canastas”). The distinction is important because natural canastas score higher. Traditionally, elevation to canasta status is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for natural canastas and a black card on top for mixed canastas. (Should a wild card be added to a natural canasta, the top card of the canasta is switched out so that it again displays the correct color.)

After any melds are made, the player discards any card other than a red 3, and play continues with the player to the left.

Freezing the discard pile

Should a red 3 or wild card end up in the discard pile, either by being the initial upcard, or (in the case of wild cards) by being intentionally discarded there, the discard pile is considered frozen. This is signified by placing the offending card at right angles to the pile, causing it to stick out when further cards are placed on top of it. When the discard pile is frozen, it may only be taken if its top card can be used to form a new meld with two or more other cards of the same rank (i.e. you cannot take a frozen discard pile to form a meld with two natural cards and a wild card).

Depletion of the stock

In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players taking the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable to take the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.

If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must have formed at least one canasta. At this point, you may go out by divesting yourself of your remaining cards, either by forming new melds, adding to existing ones, or discarding.

It is permissible to consult your partner before going out by asking “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.

A player also has the option of going out concealed. This is achieved when a player goes out without the partnership having previously melded anything, and scores a bonus.

After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score (except for any undeclared red 3s, which are handled as discussed in “Penalties” below). The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Natural canastas: 500 points each.
  • Mixed canastas: 300 points each.
  • Red threes: 100 points each, unless all four are held, in which case they are 200 points each (for a total of 800).
  • Going out normally: 100 points.
  • Going out concealed: 200 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, if neither partnership has reached 5,000 points, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. If one or both partnerships has exceeded a score of 5,000, the partnership with the higher score at that point wins.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • Undeclared red 3s at end of hand: –500 points each.
  • Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
  • Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
  • Taking the upcard when unable to use it: –50 points.

Canasta for two players

Although Canasta is canonically considered a partnership game, early accounts claim that it was conceived as a two-player game, and it works well in that form. Play with two players is the same as the partnership game, except that fifteen cards are initially dealt instead of eleven, players draw two cards instead of one (though they still discard only one card), and two canastas are required to go out instead of one.

See also

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail