December 21st, 2014

Canasta: Fun For All Ages

Things you'll need to play Canasta

If you’ve never played Canasta, you truly don’t know what you’re missing. A cousin of Gin Rummy, Canasta has been played for over 75 years and is both fun and challenging to play.

The game of Canasta was created in South America in 1939 and spread like wildfire before being introduced to the United States in 1948. The game quickly became a card-craze boom in the 1950s providing a sales avalanche of card sets, card trays and books about the subject.

Canasta uses two regular decks of cards, including the jokers (two from each deck). Each player is dealt eleven cards. Players across from each other are partners and play cards to a common area, so each partner can take advantage of the other’s play. Canasta is usually played over several hands; the first team to reach 5,000 points wins.

Rules Summary

On your turn, you either draw a card from the draw pile or take the entire discard pile (there are special rules for picking up the discard pile.) You can then play melds and canastas. At the end of your turn, you must discard a card to the discard pile. Either you or your partner must make an initial meld for your team. Once your team has made its initial meld, both of you can play as many melds and canastas as you want on your turns. If your team has made at least one canasta, either you or your partner can go out if you can play all the cards in your hand.

 Tools of the Game

Two decks of cards (108 needed)

Canasta Deck Tray (revolving is good)

Canasta Score Cards (helps keep tab)

Card Shuffler (optional – easy on the hands)

Card Holders (optional – also easy on the hands)

Some Game Time Tips

Nibbles – The menu items should be easy (think finger foods) and clean up should be super-fast so you can get started on your melding strategy.

Drinks – Soda and iced-tea are great, but some fun and flirty cocktails make Canasta way more fun.

Etiquette – While sometimes card games can be raucous, good etiquette should be encouraged.

Where to play

Looking for people to play with? Meetup is a good way to look for people near you who love card games or you may want to form your own Canasta group. You’ll be glad you did.