Card Games

How to Play the Hand and Foot Card Game

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"How to Play the Hand and Foot Card Game"
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Hand and Foot is a lot like Canasta. It is a lot of fun. I am going to explain the four player version, but the six player version would be the same except you would use 6 decks of cards and have two teams of 3, one person holds the cards for the entire team.

Shuffle four decks of cards and put them in the center of the table in two stacks. Cut for high card to see who goes first. Each of the four players, (two teams) will draw up what they think looks like 22 cards. Once you have them in your hand, without counting them, you may add or subtract a few until you think it looks right (is 22 cards) and then deal them into two stacks of 11. If you have the exact count, your team gets an extra 100 points per each team member who had the exact amount.

Each person trades their two stacks with the persons on their left and right. Choose one to set aside and one to look at. The one you are looking at is your hand. The one you set aside is your foot.

Order the cards, wilds (2's and Jokers) first, then 4 - A, with 3's at the end. I put the black 3's first and the red last and this is because I discard what is on the right first, and you want to get rid of red 3's as they count 500 points against your team if you get caught with them. The black 3's only count 5 against your team, but make excellent discards as they have no other use.

The point value of the cards is:

2's and Aces = 20 pts each
Jokers = 50 pts each
4 - 9 = 5 pts each
10 - K = 10 pts each
black 3 = negative 5 pts
red 3 = negative 500 pts

The non-negative points count "for" you when trying to have enough playable cards to make your meld, but against you if someone goes out and you are stuck with them. (Even if it is your partner who goes out. Partners ask permission to go out, you can only say "yes" or "no" to that question and the partner is obliged to honor it.)

The first hand meld is 50, the second hand meld is 90, the third hand meld is 120 and the fourth hand meld is 150. Whoever won the cut goes first on the first hand and then whoever is next after them will go first on the second hand and so on.

At the start of each turn you draw two cards from any pile. When you have enough playable cards (groups of 3 or more of the same number, which can include wild cards as long as the wild cards do not exceed the number of natural cards) to equal the meld amount for that hand you may put your cards down. If your partner puts them down, you no longer have to make a minimum meld requirement, you just add your playable cards to your partners, on your turn, of course! You are making groups of the same number, not runs. When you have played all you can or wish to play, you must discard a card.

If the person discards a card that you can use, you must have your meld already played or be able to complete your meld with that card only added to your hand and have two or more naturals of that card in your hand in order to pick it up. If that is the case, you lay down your two naturals to prove you have a right to it. You pick up the first card and add it to your naturals and take four more and set them aside. You are not allowed to use them until you have your meld down without their use. (Which must take place during that turn)

When your team gets 7 of any number, it is a Canasta. If there are no wilds in it you book it up with a red card on top. If there are wilds in it you book it up with a black card on top. The red is worth 500 points and the black is worth 300 points. You must have 2 reds and 3 blacks before your team can go out. To go out you play all your cards, you do not have to discard, but you may discard one card to go out. Don't forget you must ask your partner's permission first.

To get to your foot, you must play your entire hand. If you do so without discarding, you may pick up your foot and continue to play. If you discard you may look at your foot but you may not play any of it until your following turn.

When a team has gone out, each team counts their canasta point values and then includes the canasta cards in with the non-canasta'd cards and counts their point value, less any cards they got stuck with in their hand or foot. This is the score for that round, plus 100 bonus for the team that went out.

After 4 rounds, the winners are the team that have the most points!

More about this author: Tonya L. Howe

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