Objective: The objective of Canasta is to score the highest number of points by melding cards and creating sets.
- Canasta is typically played with two standard decks of 52 playing cards plus four jokers, resulting in a total of 108 cards.
- The game can be played by two to six players, either individually or in teams of two.
- If playing in teams, partners should be seated opposite each other.
- The game begins with a initial dealer, which can be determined by any agreed-upon method.
- Each player is dealt a hand of 11 cards from the shuffled deck.
- The remaining cards are placed facedown in the center to form a draw pile.
- The top card of the draw pile is turned face-up next to it, creating a discard pile.
- The player to the left of the dealer starts the game.
- In Canasta, the cards are ranked as follows: Aces (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
- Jokers and 2s are considered wild cards and can be used to represent any other card.
Melding and Play:
- On their turn, a player can either draw a card from the draw pile or pick up the entire discard pile.
- To meld, a player must have a set of at least three cards of the same rank, such as three Kings or three 8s.
- Melds can also include wild cards, and a set can have more than three cards.
- Melds are placed face-up on the table in front of the player or team.
- After melding, the player must discard one card face-up onto the discard pile.
- It is not mandatory to meld immediately; players can hold onto their cards to form larger sets or go out in one turn.
- Once a player or team has made their initial meld, they can also add cards to their own or their partner’s melds.
- Jokers and 2s are not allowed in the initial meld, but can be added later.
- A canasta is a meld of seven or more cards of the same rank. Canastas score bonus points.
- Play continues clockwise, with each player taking turns melding and discarding until a player goes out or the draw pile is depleted.
- To go out, a player must have at least one canasta and discard their last card. This is called “going out concealed” and earns additional points.
- At the end of the round, players or teams tally their scores based on the value of cards melded, canastas, and bonuses.
- The values of the cards are as follows: Aces = 20 points, K-8 = 10 points each, 7-4 = 5 points each, 3-2 = 20 points each, Jokers = 50 points each.
- Canastas are worth 500 points if they contain only natural cards, and 300 points if they include wild cards.
- Bonuses are earned for going out concealed, completing a canasta, or going out in one turn.
- Keep track of the cards played and discarded to gain insight into which cards are still available.
- Plan your melds carefully and aim to create canastas for bonus points.
- Strategically use wild cards to complete sets and go out faster.
- Be aware of the minimum meld requirement before you can add cards to your own