Canasta is a rummy-like card game. It is considered to be a form of 500 Rum. There are many variations of this game which can include 2, 5 or 6 individuals. However, Canasta is mostly played by four heads in partnerships of two using two ordinary decks of cards. Players try to form melds using 7 similar ranking cards and play all the cards present in their hands to "go out". Canasta is the only game belonging to the Rummy family that has achieved a classic status.

Canasta Canasta was originally invented in 1939 by Alberto Serrato and Segundo Santos in Montevideo, Uruguay. Within the next decade, the game spread to other parts of South America. By the 1950s, popularity for the game soared high and merchandise like card trays, card sets as well as books about the game were released.

How to play the original Canasta game

The deck of cards

A classic game of Canasta is played by four individuals in partnerships of two. Some games require players to operate alone. There is also a variant where six players are divided into two groups of three. Canasta requires two full decks of 52 cards or the French Deck and the four Jokers as well.

The dealer is chosen randomly or by any usual method who deals 11 cards to each of the players. It is important to note that in this game the dealer does not get any special advantage. The advantage in this game belongs to the first player who can acquire any bonus card that may be available. This can help the first player to make the initial meld and acquire the bonus cards. After that the deal rotates clockwise after the completion of every hand.

The rest of the cards are stacked at the center of the gaming table. The top card of the stack is turned over for forming the discarded pile. If the first card that is turned over is a wild card or a black or red three, more cards from the stack are turned over as long as the top card of the pile is not a wild or a three card. If any of the bonus cards is a wild one, it freezes the card pile until the discard pile that has the wild card has been taken by a player.

Playing the game

The game starts from the player positioned left of the dealer and then continues clockwise. A turn initializes when a player draws the first card from the stack; it can also begin when the entire pile of cards is picked up. There are certain rules as to when a player is allowed to pick up the pile. The player then goes on to make as many legitimate melds as they want to. A turn is completed when the player gets rid of one card from his or her hand to the top of the pile. The players cannot "undo" a laid or a meld card or decide to make a different move once they have drawn a card or taken the pile of cards.