Canasta Rules

2 min readMay 8, 2024


Canasta is a classic card game that originated in Uruguay in the 1940s and became widely popular in the United States in the 1950s.

Here are the basic rules:

The main goal of Canasta is to score points by forming melds of cards and by playing as many cards as possible from your hand.

Canasta can be played with 2 to 6 players. When there are 4 players, the game is usually played in partnerships.

Canasta is typically played with two standard decks of 52 cards each, including jokers. This gives a total of 108 cards.

In a 4-player game, each player is dealt 11 cards. In a 2-player game, each player is dealt 15 cards. If there are more than 4 players, deal fewer cards to each player.
The remaining cards are placed face down in the center to form the draw pile. The top card is flipped face up next to the draw pile to start the discard pile.
A meld is a combination of three or more cards of the same rank, called a “natural meld.”
A meld can also contain wild cards (jokers and twos), which are called “wild cards” or “unnatural cards.”
A meld must contain at least two natural cards and cannot have more than three wild cards.
A meld is formed by placing the cards face up on the table in front of the player.
Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player takes turns in a clockwise direction.
On a player’s turn, they draw two cards from the draw pile or pick up the entire discard pile if they can use the top card in a meld.
After drawing, the player may play melds from their hand onto the table. They may also add cards to existing melds on the table.
At the end of their turn, the player must discard one card onto the discard pile.
Players continue taking turns until one player goes out by playing all cards from their hand.
Going Out:
To go out, a player must have a canasta (a meld of seven or more cards) or have no cards left in their hand after melding.
When a player goes out, the round ends, and points are tallied.
Points are scored for various actions, including melding cards, going out, and completing canastas.
Points are deducted for cards left in a player’s hand at the end of the round.
Ending the Game:
The game usually ends when one player or team reaches a predetermined score, such as 5,000 points.
These are the basic rules of Canasta. There are many variations of the game, so players may agree on specific rules before starting a game.