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Canasta, which means “basket” in Spanish, is the ultimate card matching game. The game was deliberately created in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1939, by Segundo Santos and Alberto Serrato. Through the `1940s this game spread in South America and by 1948 had reached North America where it was called Argentine Rummy. During the 1950s Canasta became known worldwide, as with many games, soldiers took it with them when they were stationed overseas. Canasta is a TrapApps favorite.

For additional information about Canasta visit Pagat.com.

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Canasta is a card matching game and the object of is to score the most points. The goal of each hand is to assemble cards to get at least 2 Canastas, 1 Canasta under certain conditions, and then go out when it is to the player’s best advantage.

To Deal:

At the beginning of the game the dealer is randomly selected. The player that did not deal, plays first, then the play alternates between the two players.

Canasta uses 2 standard decks of 52 cards with 2 jokers in each deck and is a game for 2 players. Each player receives 11 cards at the beginning of each hand with all remaining cards placed face down in the center of the table to form the draw from pile (DFP). The top card of the DFP is placed, face up, right next to the draw from pile to start the discard pile (DP).

If the first turned up card is a red three or a wild card, additional cards from the DFP are turned over on top of the discard pile until the top card of the discard pile is neither a three nor a wild card (this is not true). If one of these power cards is, a wild card it freezes the discard pile until the discard pile is unfrozen by a player. To unfreeze the pile a player must have at least 2 of the same value as the top card on the pile and be able to meld all three cards. If the pile is not frozen then any player may pick it up with 2 natural cards and 1 natural card of the same value as the top card and 1 wild. A bonus red three taken in this manner is not replaced by another card from the DFP, as it would if it had been drawn from the draw from pile during a player's regular turn. If a player is dealt a red three in the first hand it is placed on the table and a new card from the DFP is dealt to their hand.

Game Play:

Players try to build Canastas, which are 7 cards of the same value. A Red Canasta, also known as a Natural Canasta, consists of 7 cards with no wilds and they are worth more than a Black Canasta which does contain wild cards. To meld the player must have at least 3 cards of the same value or 2 cards of the same value and 1 wild. No meld can have more wilds than natural cards. So a meld of two 4s and one wild is acceptable, but a meld of one 4 and two wilds is not. A Canasta must have at least 4 natural cards and up to 3 wilds can be added to complete the 7 card requirement.

1. The first player, either draws two cards from the draw from pile or picks up the card(s) in the discard pile. If they pick up the card(s) that is in the discard pile they must meld the top card. Then they must discard a card face up starting the discard pile over. There are specific rules to meld:

If the players score is:
The accumulated value of cards in the first meld must be at least:
Less than 0
0 points
0 to 1495
50 points
1500 to 2995
90 points
3000 to 4995
120 points

2. Play continues clockwise around the table.

3. When a player discards or melds their last card, known as going out, the hand is over and play stops. The player then adds up all of the points from their melds and red 3s and the points are added to their total score. The other player subtracts the points of the cards remaining in their hand from the points of the cards they have melded on the table and the red 3s. This number is added to their total score and it may be negative.

4. When there are no cards available in the DFP and the player whose turn it is does not wish to pick up the discard pile then the hand ends and points are counted the same as above with both players subtracting the cards remaining in their hand from the cards melded on the table.

5. The first player to reach 5000 points wins the game. If both players go over 5000 then the one with the highest score wins.


  • Black Canasta = 300 points
  • Red Canasta = 500 points
  • 100 points as a going out bonus
  • Concealed canasta = 100 additional points
  • Jokers = 50 points
  • 2s = 20 points
  • Aces = 20 points
  • 8-Kings = 10 points
  • 4-7 = 5 points
  • Black 3s = 5 points on table and 100 points in hand
  • 1 Red 3 = 100 points
  • 2 Red 3s =200 points
  • 3 Red3s = 400 points
  • 4 Red 3s = 800 points

If a player has red 3s on the table and has not melded any cards when their opponent goes out the Red 3(s) points are subtracted from their accumulated score.


The first player to reach 5000 points wins the game.

Power Cards:

  • Black 3s can only be melded if the player is going out and cannot be picked up from the draw from pile.
  • Red 3s are laid on the table immediately
  • 2s are wild
  • Jokers are wild

Modified on 10/26/16 from Wikipedia

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