Canasta is a card game that can be played one against one or in teams against each other. The aim of the game is to get as many points as possible by placing card combinations on the table.

Goal: Get as many points as possible
Number of players: 2-6
Requirements: Two or three decks of cards, pen and paper

The card game Canasta is played with a total of 108 playing cards. These are two sets of cards including the jokers. Depending on the number of players, the cards are distributed according to the schedule below.

2 participants: 15 cards per person
3 participants: 13 cards per person
4 participants: 11 cards per person
6 participants (team): 11 cards per person.

The remaining cards are placed face down on a pile, this is called the stock. Then the top card of the stock is turned face up. If this card is a 2, 3, or joker, it is declared invalid and the next card must be turned over.

Note: As indicated above, it is also possible to play with 6 players in a team, in which case 3 sets of cards must be used instead of two.

As with most card games, Canasta is also played in a clockwise direction. When it is your turn, take one card from the stock and then throw one of your cards into a separate pile next to the stock. The discarded cards are visible to all participants.
The next player has two choices. He takes one card from the stock or he takes all of the discarded cards. If the player chooses the last option, only the top card of the cards just obtained may be used on the same turn. Subsequently, this player must also discard a card.

Note: You can only take the discarded cards if you are already on the table or if you can get on the table with the top card.

There are 3 cards with which the discarded stack of cards can be blocked, namely the black 3, the joker and the 2. The latter is also called pseudojoker.
In addition, the card game Canasta has a few other names for cards. Below a small overview.

Red Three
The red three may not be used in combinations, it must be placed face up separately. Another requirement is that it must be deposited immediately when you get it.

So when you get it when you distribute the playing cards, you put it away and you get a new card. A Red Three is worth 100 points. When you own all four, you will be rewarded with 800 points. These points only count when the player has come to the table.

Optional rule: If someone has not reported a Canasta at the end of a round, for each Red Three 100 points, for all four Red Threes 800 points will be deducted from the total.

Black Three
Besides the Red Three, Canasta also has the Black Three. This has a completely different effect. The Black Three is used as a blocking card, when it is on top of the discard pile, it may not be used until another card is on top.

Wild Cards
The four jokers and both two are also called the Wild Cards. These cards can be used in place of any other card, except a Red Three. However, Wild Cards can also block the discard pile, not temporarily but permanently!

The Wild Card is placed on the discard pile at a 90 degree angle. The player whose turn it is may take the pile only if the card under the Wild Card matches two cards in his / her hand.

Then it is now time to announce how you will be served.
This is possible when you have sets of at least three cards of the same value. Two cards of the same rank supplemented with a (pseudo) joker are of course also sufficient.

In addition, as mentioned, the Red Three must always be placed on the table immediately. You can then immediately take a new card.

Once on the table, you may use the discard pile from the next turn, provided you have one card of the same rank in your hand or if the card from the pile connects to one of the sets of cards used. you’re on the table.

Note: If a (pseudo) joker is rolled, this advantage is canceled. Everyone must then have at least 2 cards of the same value in their hand.

The minimum number of points that can be ‘put on the table’ depends on the number of points that the player has at that moment. Below a small overview.

Negative  points: 15 points
0 – 1495                       : 50 points
1500 – 2995                  : 90 points
3000 – 4995                  : 120 points

5000 – 6995                  : 150 points
7000 – 10000                : Canasta

But how do you get those points? It seems very difficult, but the solution is quite simple. Every card you hold is worth points. When these points are added together, you arrive at a point total. This count looks like this:

  • Ace                                         = 20 points
  • 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King       = 10 points
  • 4, 5, 6, 7                                  = 5 points
  • Black Three                              = 5 points and if in hand 100 minus points
  • Red Three                                 = 100 points if explained
  • 2                                             = 20 points
  • Joker                                       = 50 points
  • All four Red Threes = 800 points               
  • Pure canasta                        = 500 points (red card above)
  • Unclean canasta                    = 300 points (black card above)
  • Pure aces canasta                 = 800 points (red Ace above)
  • Unclean aces canasta             = 500 points (black Ace above)
  • Canasta jokers                         = 1000 points (jokers and twos only)

The player (s) who did not go out will be deducted a number of points according to the above point scheme. There are a number of variations on this. The simplest is to subtract all cards from the point total.

Now what it is all about in the game. The Canasta!
A canasta is a small collection (minimum of four cards) of cards of the same rank. A distinction is made here between a pure or impure Canasta. A Canasta is considered clean when there are at least seven cards of the same rank on the table together. An unclean Canasta is a collection of four to seven cards of the same rank supplemented with (pseudo) jokers.

When you can make a Canasta, you need to create a stack from your collection of cards. With an unclean Canasta, a black card must be on top, while the pure Canasta is indicated with a red card at the top of the stack.

Note: Only when you own a Canasta can you go out!

When you are the first to ‘out’, 100 extra points will be added to your total. You can go out by playing your last card in hand.

Then it’s time to let everyone count their points. This may be based on the scheme given earlier. Small change to this is that the Red Three is counted as a normal card, so 5 points is worth + 100 points for its value as a Red Three.

If you still have cards in your hand, these points will be deducted from your total. If you don’t have any Canasta, you have a small problem, because all cards will be deducted from your total points and there is a good chance that you will end up in the negative numbers.

Have fun with the card game Canasta!