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How to Play Samba Card Game: Rules And Gameplay?

If you’re familiar with the card game Rummy, then you’re bound to love Samba. Below I have put together a simple, easy-to-understand, step-by-step guide for anyone who wants to learn how to play a new game or improve their skills.

I will be discussing the general aim of the game, as well as going into more detail about the rules, and also tell you about everything you’ll need to play and how to set up.

So, let us take a look at the Samba card game, the rules, and the gameplay.

Samba Card Game Overview

Samba Card Game Overview

Samba is usually a four-player game, with each player put into teams of two. However, if you have more players in your group, it can work with five or six people. It has similarities to the game Rummy and Canasta card game.

It’s quite an unusual game, in the sense that you will need 162 cards to play. The jokers are also used in Samba, and the 2’s are wild cards, but I will go into more detail about the meanings and uses for all the cards later.

The whole idea of the game is to score points. You do this by making “melds.” Melds are made up using three or more cards or the same suit or rank in a specific order. Again, I will go into more details about these further in the guide.

So, that is just a brief look at what the game entails to give you an idea; now, let’s take a look at how to start, score, and succeed in winning the game.

Because this game entails quite a lot of information regarding points and card meanings, I will have broken it down into easy-to-understand sections to simplify it.

What You’ll Need to Play?

To play Samba, you will have three standard decks of cards. Now, I know most people don’t have three sets, so if you need to purchase more, you can easily acquire them on Amazon for a reasonably low price.

That is all you will need, but if you want to play multiple games and keep score, you might also want to keep a pen and paper to hand.

Dealing And Set Up

To begin with, you will need to select one person to be the allocated dealer. The dealer should then give each player 15 cards. You should then place the rest of the cards in the center of the playing area, and this will be your draw deck.

The card on the top of the draw deck should be placed face up so everyone can see it. This will be the start of your discard pile.

How many people you have playing the game will determine how your teams are built. If you’re playing with one, two, or three players, then each person plays as an individual. However, if you’re playing with four or six people, you can form two or three pairs.

The player or team seated to the dealer’s left goes first, taking their turn.

Rules & Gameplay

Rules & Gameplay

A player’s turn is made up of three stages: draw, meld and discard. So, first, I will tell you all about these three actions, as well as going out, sambas and canastas, so that you understand what these mean before you begin gameplay.


Drawing is what kicks off the game. The player to the dealer’s left should take two cards from the top of the draw deck. If you can meld the cards you have picked with any of the cards already in your hand, you may take a card from the discard pile.

You could add the card to a sequence that has already been melded and pick up the rest of the discard pile to add to their current hand.


Melding is basically cards that add up to the value of 50 until you reach 1500 points, at which point your melds will need to add up to 90.

When a team or player reaches 3000 points, the meld increases to 120 points, and when you get to 7000 points, the meld needs to be 150 points.

If a player or team finds themselves with a negative point balance, then the meld will only need to be worth 15 points.


At the end of each player’s turn, if the card you discard is a wild card (a two) or a three, the discard pile is now blocked, meaning nobody can pick a card from the draw deck.

Going Out

Once players have no cards left in their hands, they go out. You can do this if they have melded all of their cards. If you’re playing in a team, you can’t go out until you have at least two canastas on the table.

Sambas and Canastas

Samba: In sequence, you will need to have three or more cards of the same suit. For this, an Ave is high, and a four is low.

When the cards have been laid down, any team member can add more cards to the sequence to extend it. If you manage to lay down seven cards in a series, it is called a Samba.

Canasta: If you wish to meld a group, you will need three or more cards ranking the same. As with a Samba, your partner has the option to add more cards to this, and if you manage to get seven cards of the same rank, this becomes a canasta.

If your group is made using regular cards, this is known as a “natural group,” but if it contains wildcards, it is known as a “mixed group.”


After a player has gone out, each team needs to add their melds, with the total number of individual card values in each meld. Take away the value of cards you left in your hand, which will determine how many points you have.

Each card represents a number of points, which goes as follows:

  • Black 3: 5 points
  • 4’s – 7’s: 5 points 
  • 8’s – King: 10 points
  • 2’s and Aces: 20 points
  • Jokers: 50 points
  • All Six Red 3’s: 1000 points
  • A Samba: 1500 points
  • A Natural Canasta: 500 points
  • A Mixes Canasta: 300
  • Going Out: 500 points

Rules And Penalties

There are some penalties within the game, which means you can have points deducted from your final score. Below is a list of these penalties and their deduction value.

  • Attempting to end the game without permission: 100 points
  • Trying to play while another player or team is still taking their turn: 100 points
  • Cards are taken from the discard pile or stock deck when it’s not your turn: 100 points
  • Using three wild cards in a Canasta: 100 points
  • For every red three used without completing a samba or canasta: 500 points
  • Red three still in your final hand: 1500 points

Winning The Game

The game’s main aim is to be the first player or team to get to 10,000 points. To do this, you’ll keep playing multiple rounds, keeping a note of your score as you play.


And that’s how you play the Samba card game in a nutshell. If you want to brush up on your game-playing skills in other areas, you should look at 6 Fun Card Games You Can Play Today.

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