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Hand and Foot Card Game Rules and How to Play?

Hand and Foot Card Game Rules and How to Play

We all love a good card game, and Rummy-type games are a common favorite. There are plenty of games that fall under this category, and one of our favorites is Hand and Foot. In this piece, we’ll be looking at the Hand and Foot card game rules, and you need to know. 

What is The Hand and Foot Game? 

What is The Hand and Foot Game

Hand and Foot is a variant of Canasta, one of the main card games in the Rummy family. Its exact origins are unknown, but we know that game was quite popular in the 80s, which is likely when it originated. 

Making it quite young compared to some other Canasta variants. Hand and Foot is also a team-based game best played with two teams of two players. However, the game can be played with more than two teams. The game is, in many ways, a simpler version of classic Canasta. 

But it does have its unique gameplay elements as well. Hand and Foot can seem quite intimidating to new players as they’ll often be many cards in play. But it’s simpler than you might think. Players can play canasta with up to 7 decks of cards. 

However, you can use less. Under standard Hand and Foot card game rules, the number of decks used should be one more than the number of players. However, many players do use the maximum number of decks as well. 

What You’ll Need? 

To play Hand and Foot, you’ll need playing cards and plenty of them. Buying in bulk is probably your best option, like these playing cards. You might also want to get some Hand and Foot score sheets. 

These will likely be especially beneficial to new players. Who may otherwise struggle to keep track of their score as the game goes on. An automatic card shuffler isn’t essential but could be helpful due to all the cards in play. We’ll talk a little more about how the cards are used below. 

12 Decks Playing Cards
Hand and Foot Score Sheets


Unlike some games, all the playing cards are used under Hand and Foot card game rules. Cards will have different values, though. If you follow traditional Hand and Foot card game rules, then both Jokers and 2s are wild. This makes them especially valuable during gameplay. This nicely brings us to the next section. 

How to Play Hand and Foot: Rules and Gameplay 

Hand and Foot Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The game aims to be the first team to use all their cards. But you’ll also need to be sure you have scored the most points as well. While Hand and Foot is designed to be a simpler version of Canasta, it could still be a little intimidating for new players. But our in-depth guide below will help you learn everything you need to know. 

Setting Up 

The first thing you should do is select a dealer. To do this, every player should be given a single card from a pre-shuffled deck. The player with the highest card wins and becomes the dealer. If there is a draw, then repeat the process till a dealer is chosen. 

The dealer will then shuffle the deck and cut it. Teams sit facing each other, and each player should be given two sets of 11 cards. The first 11 cards are the hand, and the second is the foot. 

Any remaining cards are then placed face down in the center. The top card should then be turned up and sat across from the pile. This will form the base of the discard pile. The other pile of cards is called the stock. 

Under traditional Hand and Foot card game rules, the role of the dealer should swap each round. Normally it will be the player to the current dealer’s right, who takes up the role. 

Playing Hand and Foot 

Players should work together to build up melds. Matching cards make melds of the same rank; there must be 3 cards in a meld. The game begins in a clockwise motion, the player nearest to the dealer should go first. 

A player can take a card from either the stock or discard pile. However, cards from the discard pile can only be taken if used in a meld. You must also take all the cards from the discard pile, so it might be best to stick with the stockpile at first.

Players can also only use the 11 cards from their hand pile. After they have all been used, you can move across to your foot pile. Building up melds should be your priority, but you need to build two books to win the Hand and Foot card game. 

Books are sets of 7 cards. A red book is made up of non-wild cards. While a black book can have wild cards in it. Once the books are made, a matching colored card should be placed on top of them.

As we said earlier, Jokers and 2s are wild, which means they can be used in books and melds without needing to match. After you have made a red book and a black book and used all your cards, you can go out. 

This will end the round, and then all that’s left is totally up the remaining scores. Any team with cards remaining will have their total deducted from their score. To help make scoring easier, use our chart below. 

Also, be sure to remember that the team that goes out first receives a 100 point bonus. You can play Hand and Foot with just one round or multiple. 

Red Book 500 points
Black Book 300 points
Jokers 50 points 
2s20 points 
Aces 20 points 
8, 9, 10s10 points 
4, 5, 6, 7s 5 points 
Jacks, Queens, Kings10 points 
Black 3s 5 points 
Red 3s100 points 

The Wild Book Addition 

The opinion is split on whether the wild book is part of standard Hand and Foot card game rules. Some players say it is, while others don’t. A wild book is a book of 7 cards made out of just wild cards. 

This will score players 2500 points but isn’t needed to go out. If a team starts to make one but doesn’t finish, then 2500 points will be deducted from their score. Because the wild book’s value is so high, some players don’t include it. 

Hand and Foot – A Fun Twist on Canasta 

Hand and Foot is the perfect card game for a more relaxed gaming session. Games like Canasta are fun but have a learning curve to them. But Hand and Foot is a great way to learn the fundamentals and an enjoyable game in its own right. If you’re looking for a new card game to try, why not give it a go? 

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