Triple Play (Hand, Knee, and Foot)

Triple Play, also known as Hand, Knee, and Foot, is a variation on Canasta for four players in partnerships. Like Hand and Foot, Triple Play gives each player extra hands of cards they must play through before going out. However, while Hand and Foot requires a player to play out their hand and one extra hand, in Triple Play, you have two extra hands to get rid of, or three in all! That means a Triple Play player effectively has a 39-card hand!

Most widely-played games evolved over time, their creators lost to history. Not so with Triple Play—it was invented by Sue Henberger of Huntley, Illinois. We even have an exact date when Henberger first began thinking of creating the game: New Year’s Eve, 2005. That night, she and three of her friends began discussing the possibility of adding new rules to their usual Canasta game to stave off boredom. Henberger kept working on the game and playtesting it, before finally introducing it to her local Canasta club, to great success. From one Illinois Canasta club, the game began to spread nationwide.

Object of Triple Play

The object of Triple Play is to score more points than your opponents over the course of four hands. Points can be scored by forming melds of three or more cards and canastas, which are melds of seven cards.

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To play Triple Play, you’ll need a massive number of cards—six standard decks, plus twelve jokers (two per deck), 324 cards in all! Once you’ve put together such a big deck, you’ll want it to last as long as possible, so protect your investment by choosing Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll be holding a lot of cards in your hand, so you’ll probably want the bridge-size cards. You also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper or a smartphone app.

Determine partnerships, either by some form of random draw, or by mutual agreement. Partners should sit on opposite sides of the table, so that players of alternate partnerships play as the turn proceeds clockwise around the table.

Shuffle (using the multiple-deck shuffling technique) and deal a fifteen-card hand to each player. Next, deal out a thirteen-card knee pile for each player, and an eleven-card foot pile. Players may look at their hands, but not the knee and foot piles. The foot piles are stacked neatly in front of each player, face down, with the knee pile atop it at right angles.

The remaining undealt cards are placed in the center of the table, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face-up and placed next to it. This is the upcard, the top card of the discard pile. If the upcard is a joker, 2, red 3, 5, or 7, bury it face-down in the middle of the stock 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.
  • 2s: 2s are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Cannot be melded.

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

Play of the hand

Any player holding a red 3 in their hand at the beginning of the hand lays it face-up on the table and immediately draws a replacement. Any further red 3s that a player draws while playing their initial fifteen-card hand are similarly exposed and replaced. One player on each partnership is responsible for collecting their and their partners’ melds and red 3s and keeping them on the table in front of them.

After the red 3s have been replaced, play begins with the player to the dealer’s left. On a player’s turn, they will draw and then meld if possible. Normally, they will then discard.


The first action a player takes is to draw. In most cases, they will do this by simply drawing the top two cards from the stock.

A player can also pick up the discard pile and add it to their hand. To do so, the player must have two cards in their hand that they can immediately meld with the top card of the discard pile. (Any other cards in the discard pile are inaccessible to them until they demonstrate that they can legally meld the top card.) If this is the partnership’s first meld for that deal, additional cards from the hand may be melded alongside the card from the discard pile in order to satisfy the opening-meld requirement.

Because black 3s cannot be melded, a player cannot draw from the discard pile when 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 natural rank. That is, if there is a 2 on the discard pile, you must hold two other 2s to draw from it; you cannot substitute jokers for the 2s).


After drawing, a player may form one or more melds, or add to any existing melds formed on previous turns. A meld consists of three to seven cards of the same rank. Melds are traditionally fanned out so that each card’s index is visible.

A meld can contain only one wild card in a meld of three to five cards, and no more than two in a meld of six or seven. Melds of 5s and 7s can never contain wild cards. A player can also make a meld that consists of all wild cards. A meld with no wild cards is said to be a natural or clean meld; a meld that does include them is a mixed or dirty meld.

On the first turn of the deal that a partnership melds, they must meet a minimum point threshold, as follows:

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

Once the initial meld has been made, melds made by that partnership on subsequent turns on that deal are not subject to the minimums. Existing melds can be extended by either player in the partnership with more natural cards, or with wild cards, if possible. Players cannot move cards between melds, nor can they establish two separate melds of less than seven cards of the same rank. Players cannot add to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven cards is called a canasta. Traditionally, a canasta is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for a natural canasta, and a black card on top for a mixed canasta. A canasta cannot contain more than seven cards; once a canasta has been completed, the partnership can begin a new meld of the same rank.


After melding, a player that began their turn by drawing from the stock ends it by discarding a single card. If a player began their turn by picking up the discard pile instead, they do not discard. Instead, they knock on the table to signify when they are done melding. The next player has no choice but to draw from the stock.

Picking up the knee and foot

When a player finishes their partnership’s first canasta, they pick up their knee pile and add it to their hand. They then continue their turn as usual. On their partner’s next turn, after drawing, they also pick up their knee pile. The partner must remember to pick up their knee pile on their own. Nobody can remind them to do so; anyone who does is subject to a stiff 1,000-point penalty!

Beginning when a player picks up their knee pile, they no longer draw a card to replace red 3s. They simply play them and continue their turn.

After a player has picked up their knee pile, when they run out of cards, they pick up their foot pile and continue play from there. If a player’s last card was discarded, they do not pick up their foot pile until the beginning of their next turn.

Ending the deal

Throughout the game, each partnership works toward completing a set of five canastas known as the basic book. The basic book is as follows:

  • A natural canasta of 5s
  • A natural canasta of 7s
  • A canasta of wild cards
  • Any natural canasta
  • Any mixed canasta

When a player runs out of cards after picking up their foot pile, they may go out if their partnership has completed their basic book. To do so, they must first ask their partner if they can go out. Their partner’s answer is binding; a player cannot go out if their partner withholds their permission to do so.

In the rare event the stock runs out before a player can go out, follow the same procedure used in Hand and Foot to end the deal.

Each partnership totals the value of the cards it has melded. From this total, they deduct the value of any cards remaining in their hands, as well as their knee and foot piles. Unplayed red 3s have a value of –500 points each; unplayed black 3s are –100 points each.

Then, the following canasta bonuses are added:

  • 7s: 5,000 points per canasta.
  • 5s: 3,000 per canasta.
  • Wild cards: 2,500 points per canasta.
  • Natural canastas: 500 points per canasta.
  • Mixed canastas: 300 points per canasta.

The following bonuses are also included:

  • Red 3s: 100 points each.
  • Collecting seven or more red 3s: 300 points.
  • Going out: 200 points.

All of the above is combined to reach the total score for the deal and recorded on the score sheet. Then, the cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. The partnership with the highest score at the end of four hands is the winner.

See also

External link


28 responses to “Triple Play (Hand, Knee, and Foot)”

  1. Mel says:

    I have played triple play with 3, 4 and 6 players .
    We use 7 decks for each of these number players. Is there a consensuses if 6 or 7 decks should be used?
    Also on games of 3 players we draw 3 cards and 4 and 6 players we only draw 2.
    Any comments to our procedures?
    Thank you

    • Hey Mel,
      Since Triple Play is such a comparatively new game, there’s not a lot out there from the expert researchers on it. Other resources on the Internet recommend using six decks for four players in partnerships, and seven decks for three solo players or six players in partnerships. The important thing to keep in mind is that adding a seventh deck will add six more wild cards and four each of 5s and 7s, all of which will make completing the basic book easier. As for drawing three cards, that just makes the game faster. Just be sure that all of the players know the rules you’re playing by so that everyone has a level playing field, and you should be fine!

  2. Joseph Basile says:

    if a player plays all the cars in his foot, and goes out.?? but does not have all the required Canasta’s what happens.?? Is there a pealty for the team, is it a dead hand. ???

    • Hey Joseph,
      It is not a legal play for a player who has not completed the basic book to go out. If someone tries they have to take the card that they melded, which caused them to go out, back into their hand and wait to meld it at a legal time.

  3. Barbara McNichols says:

    I made a wild canasta for my base and then another wild which would be considered red, can I use that red in my base?

    • Hey Barbara,
      A canasta that is made of all wild cards can only be considered a wild canasta, even if it’s all the same rank. You would have to make a natural canasta of seven cards of a different rank to complete your basic book. Keep in mind that the wild canasta bonus is five times that of any other natural canasta, so it’s probably to your advantage to count it as a wild canasta, even if you can’t go out because of it!

  4. Jill says:

    Struggling with the value of the black 3’s. One place says they are worth -100 another place it says they are 5 points

  5. Jacque says:

    When you or your partner make the first canasta and you both pick up your knee, can your partner use those cards immediately on their turn to pick up the discard pile because they now have a pair of what opponent discarded or do they have to wait until their next turn to pick up the pile?

  6. Pat says:

    The partner does not pick up their knee until their turn. They should not even look at it before their turn. They can not pick up the pile when they use knee.

  7. regina johnson says:

    Can you bury your cards at end of the foot to go out?
    One group of rules says yes another says no

  8. regina johnson says:

    Also this is important -can you discard a five or seven to go out?

  9. regina johnson says:


  10. Nancy H Busen says:

    Discards: If I have melded and have several runs of cards building to canastas and my opponent discards a card I can use, can I pick up the deck or do I need to also have two of those cards in my hand?

  11. Deb says:

    Can you start an extra canasta of either 5,7 or wilds? If so.. if it is not completed before someone goes out it there a penalty?

  12. Beth says:

    Is object to get rid of all your cards and required canastas as soon as possible and try to catch other team with a bunch of points
    Is object to play longer, collect more canastas, and extra wilds, sevens, and fives, and hopefully end up with the most points?

  13. Beth Buten says:


    The way we play is you ALWAYS have to have a natural pair of the discarded card to pick up the discarded card and the pile.

  14. Pat Thaxton says:

    I have two questions:

    1. If you have been dealt a canasta in your hand, can this meet the melting requirement even
    if the total of the 7 cards don’t add up to the required melt for that hand?

    2. In regular hand and foot, you could go “direct” into your foot if you play all of your
    cards in your hand and then play the foot. You didn’t have to wait till your next turn to
    play the foot. Is this still the case in triple play. And if you go into your foot, does
    your partner also pick theirs up or do they have to play their hand and rid all their cards
    before going into their foot.

    Thank you so much. Pat

    • Hey Pat,
      The initial meld requirement applies even if you have a canasta. The canasta bonuses only apply at the end of the hand, not toward the initial meld requirements. So if you’re dealt, say, a canasta of 4s, that only counts as 5×7=35 points, which isn’t enough to meld immediately.

      Going into the foot pile works exactly the same as in Hand and Foot. If you get rid of your last card by melding, you pick up the foot and keep on playing. If your last card was discarded, that ends your turn, and you don’t pick up the foot until the beginning of your next turn. In either case, your opponent does not pick up their foot until they run out of cards in their initial hand and their knee piles.

  15. Marilyn Kulp says:

    If 5 sevens are currently on the table and the player before you discards a seven, can you pick up the pile if you have 2 sevens in your hand? That would make your canasta totaling 8 sevens? And, how does this relate to other required canastas being formed?

    • Hey Marilyn,
      No, you wouldn’t be able to do that, because you cannot have more than seven cards in one meld. The two 7s in your hand would close out the canasta, and the eighth 7 from the discard pile would form a one-card meld, which is not a legal meld.

  16. Shirley albrecht says:

    Can one have a second book of wild cards, five and seven, if so what is their count

    We have been playing no second book of wilds and we can have a second clean book for 500 points and a dirty book for 300 points. Does one have to have the required books before make other books? Can one have a clean book and a dirty book of the same card in the required books.

    • Hey Shirley,
      After you’ve completed a canasta, you can start another meld of the same rank. If you can form a second canasta, you score the appropriate canasta bonus for that canasta as well. That is, if you complete two canastas of 7s, you’d score 10,000 bonus points (2×5,000) for those canastas.

      You can start these second melds before completing the basic book, but you cannot go out until you’ve completed the basic book.

  17. Laura says:

    1. In you 2nd set of 5’s or 7’s, can you use wild cards?

    2. KNOCK? what is it

    3. when picking up your foot in the beginning of your next turn, the previous player discards in the discard pile, I pick up my Foot, can I pick up the discard pile, or must I draw 2 cards from the stock pile.

    4. can you discard a 5 or 7, because thats all I have in my hand.

    5. I have my contract of 5’s, 7’s, dirty, wild, and clean canansta. On my 2nd set of 5’s or 7’s, cna I bury cards.

    6. If my partner picks up their foot, to save time, can I pick up my foot to organize my hand.

    • Hey Laura,
      1. Melds of 5s and 7s can never contain wild cards.
      2. When a player takes the discard pile, rather than discarding, they knock on the table to signify the end of their turn.
      3. You would pick up your foot at the beginning of the turn, before drawing any cards. If you would be able to pick up the discard pile based on the foot, which is now in your hand, you can do so.
      4. You can discard anything you want. Discarding 5s and 7s may help your opponents, though.
      5. In the version of the rules given here, melds cannot contain more than seven cards. If you have at least three more cards of the same rank, you just start a new meld. Some players play that you can have more than seven cards in melds not required by the basic book. If playing by these rules, the second set of 5s or 7s can contain more than seven cards.
      6. You only pick up your foot pile when you run out of cards after having picked up your knee pile; your partner picking up their foot does not affect you. If you mean the knee pile (which you do pick up after your partner does), you do not pick it up until your turn, because you must draw prior to picking it up. Having your knee in your hand already would affect whether or not you can pick up the discard pile. This has been clarified in the rules above.

  18. Carol Ader says:

    If you have extra canasta’s can you play single cards on this canasta if you have an extra in your hands.

    • Hey Carol,
      A meld can never contain more than seven cards. If you have three more cards of the same rank as your canasta, you can start a new meld of the same rank.

  19. regina johnson says:

    1- Can you Go out with a Five or a Seven?
    (We have played by another set of rules where you can’t, that makes it more interesting) but what are your feelings?

    2- As someone previously asked, if you have Six 7’s down on board; and someone throws a seven on the pile, and you have two in your hand can you pick it up? (You may have just gotten your foot, therefore have these cards in your foot)
    You can only put seven cards in the 7’s meld, so wold that be an illegal pick up?

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