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. Our Triple Play Box Set will give you all the cards you need to play the game in one convenient package. 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


68 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?

  20. Tim brooks says:

    Can you discard a red three if drawn from the deck instead of discarding something in your hand

    • Hey Tim,
      Whenever you draw a red 3, you always immediately play it face-up on the table and draw a new card to replace it. It does not stay in your hand long enough to get to the discard phase.

  21. sam says:

    can you add an elbow to triple play and what are the rules?

  22. Ron says:

    If I have 2 wild cards in my hand and a player discards a wild card can I pick up the deck. If yes, do they have to be all 2’s or jokers or can they be a mix of 2’s & jokers.

    • Hey Ron,
      If the top card of the discard pile is a wild card, you 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. Same would go for a joker, you would have to have two jokers in your hand to pick it up.

  23. big blowup in our canasta group over a stupid game that we’re supposed to have fun over……most others agree with me, as my partner went off hair-bangers ……so will ask the experts…..

    so you’re in your knee you have two sevens in your hand but no other sevens are down from partner

    your partner has gone into their foot…… one else has so far…….obviously she didn’t have enough 7’s in her foot or she would have put them down and I could have added my 2 to it……

    Anyway she starts pressuring me to discard cards to get into my foot…..I didn’t want to throw away 2 sevens if I had the chance to pick up a 7 as I didn’t know what was in her foot at the time……

    Should have I discarded? Luckily I only had a 156 pts against me at the end………btw she had NO 7’s in her foot and reamed me out of the end of game for not following had advice…….btw she was the first one in her foot

  24. Francy Sears says:

    How many decks are needed if 5 people play with no partners?

    • Hey Francy,
      David Parlett advises that Hand and Foot (which Triple Play is based on) be played with one deck more than the number of players. Following that same rule, one would say that five-handed Triple Play would need to be played with seven decks, which is two more than the number of players (since four-handed Triple Play is played with six decks).

  25. Linwood Jackson says:

    If one team of two gets their five books , canasta or required and the other team has not yet made their five books of canasta or required and the first team goes out how does the team that failed to get their canasta or required tally up their points.

    • Hey Linwood,
      The required basic book is only relevant to whether a player can go out or not. It has no effect on scoring. So a side that didn’t make their basic book would tally their score the same way as usual.

  26. Gill Hurd says:

    We have played hand knee and foot for many years, this happened last, (4players), someone picked up 10 red threes. The scorer insisted this was valued at 1000 points, I was not happy as there was no bonus for this phenomena. Surely the count should have been 1000 for 7 red threes plus 300 points for the extra ones.

    • Hey Gill,
      You’re right, according to the rules as written here. Ten red 3s, at 100 points each, would be 1,000 points, plus a 300 point bonus for collecting seven or more red 3s, for a total of 1,300 points. This is why it’s important for a table to designate, before play, an official set of rules that will govern, so that it can easily be referred to if any questions arise.

  27. Sherry Frost says:

    Question – we play that you can add extra cards to a meld beyond the basic book. If we have a wild card in our hand, can we add it to the extra melds if there is only one wild card in the meld of a dirty so we can go out or just to use up that card? Thanks

  28. Marilyn E. Carter says:

    Hi I have a scoring question. When a pair goes out and I’m caught with 2red 3s and more points totaling over 1000 points do I need to subtract those points before I add up the rest of my hand or do I subtract from the total? It can make a very bid difference .

    • Hi Marilyn,
      The method of scoring for Canasta and Triple Play that I have always used is:

      1) First, add the value of the cards actually melded and on the table.
      2) Then, subtract the value of any unmelded cards in the player or players’ hand(s). (This would include any red 3s left in your hand and not laid down.)
      3) Finally, add the bonuses for going out, canastas, and red 3s. (These bonuses are only added in after the hand and not immediately when the canasta is formed or the red 3 laid down, since a clean canasta can be made dirty later in the hand.)

      However, it shouldn’t really matter what order they’re tallied, since the result should be the same no matter which order you do it in, since you’ll always have two positive values and a negative value.

  29. Dawn says:

    We would like to play 6 players and know that it is 2 teams of 3 players each. Is it regular card play or are there different rules for playing?

  30. Marcia says:

    Just starting to learn how to play this game!
    1) if I pick up the discard pile with 2 naturals in my hand AND make the 1st canasta, do I immediately pick up the knee and continue playing? BUT I will NOT discard? (Knock)
    2) folliwing turn for my partner, they can choose to pick up discard pile with 2 naturals in hand OR draw 2 AND must pick up knee. If they forget to pick up knee, -1000 pts and if anyone reminds them they will be assessed a -1000 pts penalty (either team).
    3) not sure if I read this here or on another site, but can a player choose to take the top 2 cards from the discard pile INSTEAD of the stockpile? And NOT play (meld) either of the 2 cards and “knock”?

  31. Jill says:

    We had a game where one person declared that since she used her entire original hand laying down melds, she can go directly into her knee even though the team had NOT made a canasta. I know you can into the foot in that case but I thought a canasta was a must before you can use your knee cards. Thanks

  32. Charlotte Overley says:

    Situation: One team goes out before the other team has any of their basic books(clean, dirty, 7, 5, wild). For scoring purposes: Is the losing team penalized 11,300 (minus 11,300) in addition to minus everything left in their hands, on the board, and in unplayed hands? There is disagreement.. some say yes, some say only minus all that is left.

  33. Susan Wojciechowski says:

    Can a player choose to discard a red 3?

    Are 7 red 3s considered a Canasta, and if is the first canasta made, does it allow a player to pick up their Knee?

  34. Barb Frankenhoff says:

    We had a disagreement and would like your advice. No one had melded. It was my turn. The top card was a match with two cards in my hand. I had enough to meld before using the top card. Can I pick up the whole pile and then lay down the top card with the two in my hand? Or can I only pick up the top card?

  35. scheryl coats says:

    Can the player that is going out lay all of the black threes down at the end as a book that does not count for points, they just don’t count against the player.

  36. Karen C says:

    The stock pile is down to one card and no one has gone out. Must the next player draw that one card no matter what? And if they do, since they didn’t draw two, are they allowed to discard.

    Also when one picks up the discard pile and there is only one card do they need to draw the other one from the stock pile?

  37. Marion erikson says:

    We play that you cannot count your base unless you have all complete . We then count all canastas in the base as just regular canastas not the large pt count in a complete base canasta. We also count wilds as 2500. We then count all cards left including incompleted base, this makes it really important to get that base as that is 11,300 pts..

  38. Ann says:

    After a round is finished and we’re counting points for your book, red 3s, canastas and any melds on the table, do you count the point value for each and every card in your book and/or in your canastas?

  39. Romel Smith says:

    Need copy of the score page .

  40. Cathy says:

    One player in our foursome laid down one natural with 2 wild cards at her turn. This was not caught by others at the table until 3 others had played. Is there a penalty for this or does play continue since the error was not caught right away?

  41. Sandra J McPeek says:

    Do both partners have to be in their foot to go out?

  42. Kathy sever says:

    When picking up the pile in Tri Sam, do you pick up the entire pile or the top 7 cards playing the top card with two matching cards.?

  43. Marie says:

    I saw your answer above that is similar to my question. A person went out with their partner’s permission. As we were counting the remaining cards and mixing up all the cards, she realized they had not completed their contract. It was a bit difficult to reconstruct what everyone had in their hands, etc. is their a penalty for this?

  44. Debbie says:

    2021-08-2018 “We had a game where one person declared that since she used her entire original hand laying down melds, she can go directly into her knee even though the team had NOT made a canasta. I know you can into the foot in that case but I thought a canasta was a must before you can use your knee cards. Thanks” Same thing happened in our game used all the cards in the hand before a canasta. We did not go into the Knee had to pick up cards that were played to be able to discard. Is this the correct way to play?

  45. Wendy Tanner says:

    This is a question. When a player picks up from the discard pile, they do have the required 2 alike cards in their hand, how many cards are they required to pick up from the discard pile counting the one they need?

  46. Janet says:

    When you use the top card of the discard pile to make your initial meld, can you pick up the entire pile? I could not find the answer to this in the previous comments. Please answer.

  47. Lynne Noorda Keener says:

    I have 2 questions regarding Triple Play Canasta.
    1. If my partner is holding the Canastas in progress and at my turn, I throw cards down and tell her to “put them where she wants”. Is this proper play? Or do I need to tell my partner where “to play” my cards?
    2. During my turn, I ask my partner if she wants to go out, she says “yes” but then redistributes the cards played to make two dirty or mixed Canastas. Can the partner change the play of the cards already played?
    Lynne Keener

  48. Carole Witt says:

    can you meld a book of 7 black 3’s to go out. If so, do you then need a discard?

  49. Jill says:

    I am confused on the discard pile also. Do you pick up the top two cards and no discard or do you pick up the entire pile and no discard. I understand you must meld and have two naturals just not sure on the pick up. Also if the first player wants to pick up the pile and there is only one card is that legal or does play need to go around once or twice to build the discard pile.

  50. Nancy says:

    If you have 4 cards down on the table and 2 in your hand can you pick up the discard pile to make a canasta

  51. Susan says:

    Can you make more then two books if 7’s and 5’s

  52. Georgine Demling says:

    An unusual thing happened the other day and we were not sure how to play it. When putting together the 5 required canasta to go out if the game can a dirty and a clean canasta of the same numbered card be used? One of our players made two canasta of fours and wanted to use one for a dirty when she already had played fours as a clean in the required canasta. Is that legal?

  53. Jeanetta A Jurgens says:

    I have read over the rules, back and forth, but can’t find any mention of when you finish a game and have cards you need to subtract, can you subtract you points from books if needed?

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