Rules of Canasta (part 2)

Canasta Convention

Unlike Gin Rummy, players are only allowed to add to their own melds, not their rivals’ and there are a couple of important factors to remember when attempting a Canasta or seven-card meld.

  • Wild Cards can be used as anything except for those ‘special value’ threes. A red three can never be melded and a black three may only be melded if it is the player’s final meld before going out.
  • A legal meld is made up of a minimum of three cards of the same rank (or two cards and a wild card) but the natural cards must outweigh the wild cards.
  • Every single Canasta (seven-card meld) must contain at least four natural cards
  • A red Canasta, or natural Canasta, is made up of only natural cards and is collected into a pile and set aside with a red card, face up, on top
  • A black Canasta, or mixed Canasta, is made up of both wild and natural cards and is also set aside with a black card on top
  • A red Canasta is worth more than a mixed or black Canasta

Dealing with Discards

Any player is entitled to pick up the entire discard pack instead of drawing a single card from the stock pile but only if they can use the top discard by adding it to an existing meld or beginning a new meld from hand.

If a wild card has been discarded, the discard pack is frozen and may only be picked up if the player can meld the wild card with 2 natural cards of the same rank from his or her hand but if the said player has no melds of his own, then the discard pack remains frozen to him, not the other players who have already opened their ‘melding’ accounts at the table.

Meeting the Objective – Going Out!

Before we all get excited about meeting the final objective of the game, it is important to remember that a player can only go out if he or she has made one or more Canasta! To go out the player must either meld all the cards in hand or all the cards, bar one, which is the discard – simple.

The Business End of the Game – Scoring

Scores are calculated at the end of each hand as follows:

  • The total value of all cards melded by the player minus the total value of the cards remaining in the player’s hand plus any bonuses