Rules of 4 hand, Hand Foot Canasta

There are many variations of this game. No standard set of rules apply. This game follows those rules common to the most popular variations. Due to the limitations of space on a computer screen, I added a rule that no hand can exceed 40 cards. This is not a common rule of the game but without it, controlling the display is close to impossible.

Object of the Game:

Play all or as many of the cards in your HAND and FOOT before your opponents do and achieve the highest possible score.


This is a 4 handed, partnership game of Hand Foot Canasta. Five standard decks of playing cards are used. Each player has two hands of cards. One is called a Hand which is played first and the other a FOOT, which is played when the Hand is used up. Each hand begins with 11 cards. The Players cut a group of cards from the deck attempting to cut exactly 22 cards to make up their two Hands. If 22 cards are cut exactly, a bonus of 100 points is awarded the player.

A game consists of 4 rounds of play. Each player who cuts first, plays first, when play begins. First cut is rotated through each player at the beginning of each round.

Each player starts play with their Hand until it is exhausted then picks up their Foot and resumes play until it is exhausted or the deck runs out of draw cards. Once a player has picked up their Foot, they must be carefull NOT to play all their cards until the BOOK Requirement to go out of cards is met. Doing so, creates a severe penalty. When a player goes out or the Draw Pile runs out of cards, that round is ended and the points are totaled.

Going Down and Creating Books:

The player who cut for their Hand and Foot first, starts play of the round. Each player draws 2 cards from the Draw Pile when it is their turn to play. They can then lay cards down from their Hand (Meld) until they are ready to end their turn of play. At this point the player discards 1 card to the discard pile and the next player on their left starts their turn of play. This continues until a player goes out or the Draw Pile runs out of cards ending this round of the game.

Each round of the game has Minimum Point requirements for the initial Meld.

Round 1 = 50 points Round 2 = 90 points Round 3 = 120 points Round 4 = 150 points

Each card in the deck has a point value as follows.

4, 5, 6 and 7 each = 5 points 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen and King each = 10 points Aces = 20 points Duces are Wild Cards and = 20 points Jokers are Wild Cards and = 50 points

Threes are not meldable cards and are used strictly as discards. Black 3's = 5 points Red 3's = 500 points

Melds are accomplished by laying down 3 or more cards of the same denomination on the table which starts a "Clean" book or laying down a pair of the same denomination with 1 wild card which starts a "Dirty" book. On the initial meld Wild cards can only be used with pairs starting a new book.

The combined point values for all cards layed down on the initial meld must equal or exceed the Minimum point requirement of that round. They can not start melding until their meld satisfies the Minimum requirement.

Once a player has met the minimum point requirement, their team is "Down" and each partner of the team is then free to make further melds of any point value when it is their turn to play.

Each partnership creates their own series of books to play on. Once a book contains 7 or more cards, it is closed on the table exposing only one card of the book value. If the book is a Clean book (no wild cards), a Red suited card is placed on top. If the book is Wild, a Black suited card is placed on top. Wild books must contain more straight cards than wild cards.

Closed Clean books earn 500 bonus points each. Closed Wild books earn 300 bonus points each.

Closed book bonus points can not be counted to meet Minimum point requirements for an initial lay down.

Once a partnership is "Down" (melded the Minimum points required for the round) wild cards may be played on any book as long as the book ratio remains 1 or more straight cards versus wild cards and the book has not been closed. Wild cards may never be played on closed books or started as book values of their own.

Once a book is closed, either player in the partnership may continue to play straight cards on the book. This doesn't change the "Clean" or "Wild" status of the book.

You can not play on your opponents books.

Drawing Cards from the Discard Pile:

Certain card values "Freeze" the pile and prevent the player from drawing from the discard pile.

They are: Any Wild card (Duce or Joker) Any Three (Red or Black)

If any other card is the top card of the discard pile then:

Each player has the option of drawing up to 7 cards cards from the discard pile instead of drawing 2 cards from the draw pile when their turn begins. However, to do this they must have at least 2 of the same value card in their hand as the top card on the discard pile. The discard pile may contain any number of cards. If the pile contains 7 or less cards, the player draws all of them. If the pile contains 8 or more cards, the player draws the top 7. The 8th card then becomes the top card of the discard pile.

It is mandantory that the qualifying pair and top card of the discard pile is melded when the player draws from the discard pile. If the partnership has not yet made their initial meld, they must be able to meld the Minimum point requirements of the round to draw from the discard pile. Drawing from the discard pile can change the meld options of the hand. If the partnership has not made their initial meld, the program analyzes the draw to make sure the hand will still be able to meet the Minimum point requirement before allowing the draw to take place. i.e.; a Joker planned to be used with a pair in the hand may not be playable, if the discard pile contains a card of the same value as the pair and the replacement of the Jokers points reduces the total meld potential of the hand below the Minimum required.

The computer controlled hands reveal their pair prior to drawing from the discard pile. The meld of the top card and qualifiers is made for the South hand as soon as the draw is made.

Play resumes as normal after the meld of the qualifiers and top card is made.

Picking up the Foot:

Once all the cards in the Hand have been played, the players Foot cards are moved to their Hand. If the last card played from the hand was a discard, the next player begins their turn. If the last card from the Hand was melded on the table, The player can continue melding until they are out of cards or ready to discard.

Going Out:

"Going Out" means playing all cards in both the HAND and FOOT. When a player goes out, all the melds are totaled. The point values remaining in the Hand and Foot of the other players are also totaled and deducted from the Melds of their partnership. A bonus of 100 points goes to the partnership that goes out. It is mandantory that the melds made by the partnership going out contain at least 1 "Clean" closed book (Red) and 1 "Wild" closed book (Black).

If a player goes out but the Melds their partnership made does not contain at least 1 "Clean" closed book and 1 "Wild" closed book then a SEVERE penalty is impossed on that partnership. If this scenario occures, the partnership that "Went Out" loses all their meld and sets 500 points plus the point totals of any remaining cards in their partners Hand and Foot. The opponents get their Meld and are not penalized for any cards remaining in their Hand or Foot.

A players last card may be melded or discarded.


It is OK to ask your partner for permission to go out. South can poll his partner by clicking the "OUT?" button. This button only appears after the South player picks up their Foot and it is Souths turn to play. The North player will ask permission to go out, if its Hand has the potential and Souths Foot is up.

Return to Partnership Hand & Foot Page