Canasta is a card meld game where the goal is to "go out" with the most accumulated meld points. When at least one of the players accumulates 5000 points, the match is over, and the player with the highest score wins.
The Deck
The game uses two regular decks of cards including the two jokers, for a total of 108 cards. The eight twos and four jokers are treated as wild cards.
The Deal
In two player Canasta, each player is dealt 15 cards. In four player, each player is dealt 11 cards.
Object of the Game
  • Players draw, play meld, and/or discard till they either :
    • Meet the minimum meld score and number of canastas (see below) and have no more cards in their hand, OR
    • All the cards in the deck have been drawn.
  • Meld consists of sets and red threes only. Sets are three or more cards of the same value. The number of naturals must be the same or greater than the number of wild cards in the run at all times.
  • A Canasta" is a run of 7 or more cards. Depending on the options, you will need 1 or 2 canastas in your meld before going out.
  • Jokers and 2s are treated as wild cards and can be used to represent other cards, as long as the total number of wild cards in a single run are no more than the number of natural cards in that run.
  • Jokers and 2s played on the discard pile freeze the pile permanently, or until the top discard card is picked up by two naturals in the player"s hand.
  • Black threes played on the discard "freeze" the discard pile for one turn.
  • Normally, the top card in a discard pile can be combined with one wild and natural in your hand for meld, except when the pile is frozen. Then you must have two naturals in your hand to pick up the discard pile.
  • Red Threes that are drawn, automatically go to your meld, and are replaced by another drawn card.
  • To start your meld, you must meet a minimum value, based on your current score. Once you have laid down meld, you can then start a new run with at least three cards, or add to an existing run in meld you already played.
A normal turn consists of two parts:
Your Turn.
When it is your turn, you can either :
  • Draw a card from the card deck (1 or 2, depending on the options set)
  • Take the entire discard pile, IF you can use the top card in the discard pile in your meld, either by adding to an existing run that has less than 7 cards, or by creating a new run with cards from your hand and the top card is not a wild card or three.
  • Meld out. Meaning, meet the minimum meld points and canasta requirements and play all the cards in your hand to your meld, without or with a discard.
Once you have draw a card from the deck or discard, you must discard a card to end your turn, unless you have only one card left, and you have not yet met the minimum requirements to go out (one or two canastas).
Game Flow
Cards are shuffled, and one card in the deck is put in the discard pile, face up. If the card is a "wild" card (Joker or 2), the discard pile is considered frozen, and cards are drawn from the deck till an ordinary card is revealed.
  • First Player takes turn.
  • Second player takes turn.
  • Hand continues until either one player melds out, or there are no more cards in the deck to draw.
Special Cases
  • Black Threes :
    Threes of Clubs or Spades cannot be used for a run UNLESS, your hand contains only black threes, and you can meld out with the threes.
  • Red Threes
    The point value of threes of hearts or diamonds does not count towards fulfilling your minimum meld.
Alt Games
In Games where the player needs to go out with canastas on specific card values (Kings, sevens, etc):
Make sure that you play one wildcard at a time so that the system will allow you place the wilds where you want.
  • When a hand is complete, your score consists of :
    Going out Bonus.
    Meld plus bonuses ( such as canasta or four red threes).
    Minus any penalty for cards still in your hand.
    Minus any points for Red Threes if you have no other meld
    And is added to your score.
  • Going out Bonus :The first player to meld out and end the hand gets a 100 pt bonus for going out if they have previously played meld, or 200 pt bonus if they go out concealed " meaning you have played all your meld and gone out in the same hand.
  • Meld plus Bonuses. Meld consists of the point value for cards :
    CardEach card 
    Black threes5 points 
    4, 5, 6, 75 points 
    8, 9, 10, J, Q, K10 points 
    A20 points 
    2s20 points 
    Jokers50 points 
    Red Threes100 points
    There are Bonuses for Canastas and red threes.
    NOTE: Bonuses are not counted when calculating the Mininum Meld required.
    Natural Canasta (all Naturals)500 points 
    Mixed Canasta (all others)300 points 
    All four Red Threes
    - which gives a total of 800 points for four red threes.
    400 points
    Minus any penalty for cards still in your hand. Only the value of the cards are counted, not the bonuses.
    Minus any points for Red Threes if you have no other meld. The penalty is 100 points per Red Three, and if you have all four Red Threes, the penalty is a total of 800 points.
    Minimum Meld
    The minimum meld points to start for each hand is based on your accumulated score from the previous hand
    SCOREMeld Required
    0-149550 pts 
    1501-299590 pts 
    3000 and up120 pts  
    Any Negative Score15 pts 
Variations (Game Options)
  • Draw 1 or 2 cards
  • Go with 1, 2 or 3 Canastas
  • Player can or cannot Pickup from Discard Pile
  • Wildcards on Opening Meld allowed or not allowed
  • Wildcards for Pickup allowed or not allowed
  • Bots available
  • Turn off the 400 pt bonus for having all of the Red Threes
  • End points 1500,2000,2500,3000,3500,4000,4500,5000 (also can be changed manually)
Variations (Room Options) - not configurable per game.
  • Allow or not allow player to go out without drawing a card first
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