American Canasta- It’s No Longer Your Grandma’s Version!
Canasta is a game that most often is played with four players split into two teams. The game can also be played by two or three individual players. I am going to concentrate on the four-handed version.
Canasta is a very versatile and fun card game. Some card games have one wild card, but Canasta has two wild cards making it twice the fun!
I spent quite some time researching many different versions of Canasta I found on the internet. There were similarities and also differences. It was really confusing at times, trying to follow the various rules.
I put rules together and have been teaching this version to individuals and groups for a while. The game is much more interesting and challenging than most other variations. The scoring system encourages you to develop strategies and tactics.
The instructions below are a brief overview. More detailed rules follow if interested. But I know practice is important and everyone learns differently.
I want you to know that I am here to help you learn the game regardless of your current level of play. I can even introduce you to a game we can play virtually with a foursome.
How canasta is played, briefly.
All the cards from two decks (with jokers) are shuffled and each player is dealt 13 cards. Play moves in a clockwise direction from the dealer. The first players picks a card from the draw (face down) pile and discards a card (face up) into the discard pile.
Each player in turn has the option of picking a card from the draw pile or using the top card from the discard pile in a face up ‘meld‘ on the table. In addition to taking the top card, the player adds the entire discard pile to his/her hand. The player then discards one card to end the turn.
A’s and 7’s, as well as wild cards (two’s and jokers) are special and have their own special rules.
Play continues until one player goes out by clearing his or her hand of all cards and completing at least 2 canastas.
Each team’s points are recorded and added to their score. Points are tallied after each game until one team reaches 8500 points.