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How to Play Hand and Foot: A Canasta Game for Beginners

Hand and Foot is a much easier variation of the rummy-type card game Canasta. It requires 5-6 decks of standard playing cards and is suitable for ages 12 and up. Hand and Foot can be played by 2-6 people. It is most commonly played in teams of two.

Like regular Canasta, the objective of Hand and Foot is to make the most melds and to be the first team to go out.

Set Up

To set up a game of Hand and Foot, players need to form a circle around a stable playing area. Teammates should sit across from each other.

Before gameplay can begin, every player draws a card from the deck. Make sure it’s shuffled well. Whomever draws the highest card gets the honor of being the first dealer. If you have a tie, simply redraw.

The dealer then shuffles the decks and passes out twenty-two cards, one by one, clockwise to each player. The first eleven cards are known as the Hand and the second set is known as the Foot.

Players should separate the Hand and Foot into two decks. The remaining cards form the stock. The top card of the stock is then flipped over and placed to the side to form the discard pile.

Melds

Points are awarded when teams meld their cards. A meld is a group cards of the same ranks. Melds must begin with at least three cards. After a meld is formed, teammates can build upon their own melds until a meld has seven cards.

Wildcards

In Hand and Foot, 2s and Jokers are wildcards. They can be used in place of any card. A meld must, however, have more natural cards than wildcards.

Card Values

In Hand and Foot:

  • 2s are worth 20 points
  • Jokers are worth 50 points
  • Black 3s are worth -100 points
  • Red 3s are worth -300 points
  • Aces are worth 20 points
  • 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s are worth 5 points
  • 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings are worth 10 points

How to Play Hand and Foot

How to Play Hand and Foot

Gameplay moves clockwise, starting with the player left of the dealer. Players start with their Hand deck and then, after they’ve played all of their cards, begin playing their Foot deck.

To begin their turn, a player first draws two cards from the stock pile. The first meld of any round must at least be worth 60 points.

After a player makes all of the moves they can, they end their turn by discarding one card.

Books

When a meld reaches seven cards, it is called a book and it is flipped over to prevent more cards from being built on it. A clean book is a book made of all naturals. A Dirty book is a book made with naturals and wildcards. A Wild book is a book made of all Wildcards.

Going Out

Once a team has completed a Clean and Dirty book and once one of the players in that team has played all of the cards in their Foot, they may go out and end the round.

Scoring

To calculate a team’s score, subtract the point value of un-melded cards to the point value of melded cards

The value of completed books are as follows:

  • A Clean book is worth 500 points.
  • A Dirty book is worth 300 points.
  • A Wild book is worth 2,500 points.

If a team starts to and then fails to complete a Wild book before the round ends, 2,500 points are subtracted from their score.

The team that goes out is also awarded 100 points.

Resources:

Want to learn more about how to play Hand and Foot, check out some of these resources:

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