It's a 4 player game (2 teams), with a 108 card pack containing two 52 card standard packs plus 4 jokers. 13 cards are dealt to each player and also a packet of four cards and a packet of three cards are placed face down called Talons. The team that scores more points wins the game.

Types of Cards:

  • Wild cards: 2s and Jokers
  • Natural cards: from 4 up to Ace.
  • Threes are special
  • 7s and Aces are subject to some special rules and restrictions.


A meld is set of matching cards placed face-up on the table.

A meld of 4s, 5s, 6s, 8s, 9s, 10s, jacks, queens or kings consists of:

  • At least 3 cards of the same rank. (wild cards can be used as substitutes for one or two of the cards).
  • Not more than 7 cards of the same rank (wild cards can be used as substitutes for one or two of the cards).
  • Must have at least 2 natural cards.
  • Not more than 2 wild cards
  • It's not allowed to have two common melds of the same rank, in that case you must merge them.

A meld of 7s and As consists of:

  • From three to seven cards
  • Wild cards cannot be used
  • A meld of aces can contain a wild card if its part of the team's initial meld but that will be considered as a common meld.
  • It's not allowed to have two melds of 7s/Aces of the same rank, in that case you must merge them.

A meld of wild cards consists of:

  • From three to seven 2s and jokers in any combination.
  • A canasta having only 2s or four jokers are worth more points.

Melding Threes:

  • During his turn, before or after drawing a card, a player may place any 3s among the team's melds and immediately draw a replacement card from the stock pile (it's not 
    allowed to meld 3s as the initial meld) .

Wild Cards:

  • 2s and jokers can be used as substitutes for other cards, following the rules.

Going out:

  • When you are able to meld all but one of your cards and discard your last card.


  • A seven card meld is called a canasta and must contain at least 5 natural cards. There are two types of canasta, Mixed canasta (containing wild cards) and Natural canasta (using only natural cards).

Initial meld:

  • To make a initial meld the player must meld the cards in order to reach at least the minimum count. The minimum count depends on your team's cumulative score at the start of that hand.

Playing American Canasta

Draw a card from the stock (face-down pile of cards) or discard pile(face-up pile of cards), check if there are any cards you can meld and select a card you want to discard, the game moves clockwise. After drawing a card you may meld some cards before discarding. You can only discard 3s if you are going out and wild cards if all the other cards in your hand are 3s or wild cards. If the discard pile is empty you can't discard As and 7s unless you have no other option in your hand but 3s and wild cards. By discarding you end your turn and allows the next player to play. At least two canastas are required for going out. It's not allowed to go out without discarding unless you meld a Special Hand. If any of the teams menage to go out, the game ends when a player needs to draw from the stock pile if the stock pile is empty.

Drawing from the discard pile

Instead of drawing from the stock pile, the player may draw all the cards on the discard pile unless the top card is a 3 or a wild card. To do so the player must meld at least two cards of his hand with the top card of the discard pile. If the top card matches a team's meld it can only be drawn if the meld has less than five cards for it's not allowed melds with more than seven cards.

The conditions to make a valid initial meld are:

Cumulative Score Minimum count of initial meld
Less than 3000 125 points
3000 to 4995 155 points
5000 or more 180 points

After making the first meld one of the talons is yours to have, at the start of your next turn to play the cards of your talon will be automatically added to your hand. The player that makes the first meld takes the four-card talon.

Special Hands

A special hand is a combination of fourteen cards which allows the player to go out by exposing all his cards after drawing, without discarding.

  • Straight: one card of every rank (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-Joker)
  • Pairs: a hand of seven pairs. It mustn't contain any jokers or 3s. There are two types: 
  1. Without wild cards. Exemple: 4-4-5-5-7-7-8-8-9-9-10-10-Q-Q.
  2. With 2s, 7s and As. Example: 2-2-6-6-7-7-9-9-J-J-K-K-A-A.
  • Garbage: Two sets of four of a kind and two sets of three of a kind, without any wild cards or threes. Example: 4-4-4-6-6-6-6-J-J-J-J-A-A-A


When game ends, each team reckons its total score for the hand. The team's score is obtained by adding up the bonuses and penalties and subtracting the point values of the cards left in the hand of the other partner. If a team has at least one canasta, the point values of all the cards in the melds placed on the table are counted and added up to the total score.

The point values of each card are:

  • Joker: 50 points each
  • A, 2: 20 points each
  • K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8: 10 points each
  • 7, 6, 5, 4: 5 points each

Bonuses and penalties:

  • Going out +100 points
  • Natural Canasta: +500 points each
  • Mixed Canasta: +300 points each
  • Special Canasta: +2500 points each

Wild Canastas:

  • Canasta of 2s (with no jokers): +3000 points
  • Canasta of jokers (with all four jokers): +2500 points
  • Other wild canasta: +2000 points

Incomplete canastas:

  • Pure ace meld of less than seven cards: -2500 points
  • 7s meld of less than seven cards: -2500 points
  • Wild card meld of less than seven cards: -2000 points
  • Three or more 7s remaining in a player's hand: -1500 points
  • Three or more As remaining in a player's hand: -1500 points

Melded threes:

  • One red 3: 100 points
  • One black 3: 100 points
  • 2 red 3s: 300 points
  • 2 black 3s: 300 points
  • 3 red 3s: 500 points
  • 3 black 3s: 500 points
  • 4 red 3s: 1000 points
  • 4 black 3s: 1000 points

The total score of the 3s will be:

  • Negative if the team has no canastas
  • Ignored if the team has only one canasta
  • Positive if the team has two or more canastas

Special Hand

If a player melds a Special Hand, the score rules listed above will be ignored and the team's score will be counted as follows:
 3000 points
 without wild cards: 2500 points
 with 2s, 7s and As: 2000 points
 2000 points

The game ends when at least one of the teams reaches a cumulative score of 8500 or more points. The team with more points wins the game.

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