Hand and Foot Rules


This game is related to Canasta and was taught to us by my wife's Great Aunt and her husband. It's very popular in southern Ohio.  It's great fun if you enjoy Canasta.

 NUMBER OF PLAYERS: An even number of players-- usually a minimum of four. Two teams are formed.

 OBJECT OF THE GAME: To reach 6,000, 8,000, or 15,000 points-- before the opposition team-- by forming Canasta-like melds. The number chosen as "game" depends on the number of persons playing-- 6,000 is best for 4 players, 8,000 is best for 6 players etc..

 THE DEAL: Use approximately one straight deck per person (five decks are best for six players). Deal out two hands of 11 cards each to each player-- the first is the Hand , the second is the Foot . The "Hand" is picked up and played from first. The "Foot" remains face-down on the table and is picked up, and played from, only after a player plays out his or her "Hand". After all hands have been dealt out, the top card of the draw pile is turned up as the first card of the discard pile. As with most other card games, the deal rotates clockwise around the table with each subsequent deal.

 OPENING POINT COUNT: For a team to begin melding, one player on that team must be able to meld combinations of cards such that the points represented meet the following minimums:

Opening Point Count Requirements

 MELDS: Valid melds consist of three or more cards of the same denomination. Wild cards (deuces and jokers) can be used in forming a meld so long as the number of wild cards never exceeds the number of non-wild cards in the meld. Threes cannot be melded. Each card in the meld contributes points to the meld according to the following table:

Point Values for Cards

A meld of seven cards of the same denomination (e. g. seven Kings) is known as a Canasta. Canastas score bonus points depending upon whether or not wild cards (deuces and jokers) are used in the meld. A "Natural" or Black Canasta (one without wild cards) scores a 500 point bonus; otherwise the Canasta is a Red Canasta for which a 300 point bonus is scored. Canasta bonus points DO NOT count towards the required opening count.

 THE PLAY: The player to the left of the dealer starts the play. When it's a player's turn, he or she has the option of taking a card from the draw pile OR taking the discard pile (only if the top card of the discard pile can be melded IMMEDIATELY). Melds can be created or a team's meld can be played to by the player only during his or her turn.1 When the player can't meld or play to a meld any longer, the player must discard a card from his or her hand to the discard pile. Then play passes to the next player on the left. Play continues until one player can "go out" (see below); then penalties are assessed (see below), the net score tallied for each team, and then-- if neither team has won the game-- the next hand is dealt.

 PLAYING TO THE FOOT: When a player can play all the cards from his or her "Hand" without having to discard, the "Foot" can be picked up and the player can continue to create or play to melds. If a player can play all the cards from the "Hand" except for one, that card is discarded and play passes to the next player on the left; the player plays out of his foot at his next turn.

 GOING OUT: Play of the hand continues until someone is able to "go out". Going out means that a player has played all his or her cards from both the "Hand" and "Foot" AND that player's team has at least one Black and one Red Canasta melded. When a player can "go out", he or she must ask their partner(s) if it's okay to do so. If the partner(s) agree, then play ends and the penalties are assessed. If the partner(s) don't agree, then play continues until they do or until the opponents do.

 PENALTIES: When a player goes out, all other players must subtract from their team's score the values of all cards still unmelded (that is, all cards still in their "Hand" and/or "Foot"). Penalty points are identical to the card point values stated above, except for threes-- black threes are 5 points and red threes are 300!

 1A player can only play to melds created by his or her teammates--no play to the opposition team's melds is permitted.

Here's a link to the only book I know of covering Hand & Foot:

Wastrack, Harry. The Essential Hand & Foot.new XLibris Corporation. ISBN 1-4134-9280-0. [The rules to the game of Hand & Foot that the author describes in his book pretty much follow the rules as I've presented them above; however he describes a number of variations and alternate rules which you might be interested in. For further information about "The Essential Hand & Foot" check out http://www.wastrack.com.]

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Sunday, January 20, 2008