Hand and Foot

Table of Contents

Basics / Object of the Game

Why "Hand and Foot"?

Hand and Foot is a flavor of Canasta. It is called "Hand and Foot" because each player is dealt two sets of cards - the hand, which is played first, and the foot, which is played when all cards in the hand have been played (as detailed below).

Players and Teams

Hand and Foot is played with two teams of either 2 or 3 players each, making it a game for 4 or 6 players. Every player sits between players of the opposing team. The rules for picking teams are discussed below.

Object Of the Game: Team With the Most Points Wins

A game consists of 4 rounds. After each round, a score is calculated for the round and added to the total score. After the 4 rounds are completed, the team with the higher total score wins.

Quick Overview of The Game

Each round consists of a deal, the main play, and scoring. Each player is dealt a hand and a foot. In main play, players begin play with their hand, but (following rules detailed below) try to lay out their cards as quickly as possible. Cards on the table count as points. When a player exhausts the cards in their hand, they then continue play with their foot. When a player's foot is exhausted and his team has met the criteria detailed below, he can go out, ending the round.

The rest of these rules describe the game in detail.

Cards and Their Values

6 (six) decks of cards are used, including jokers.

Individual cards have values as shown in Table 1. These point values are used for both melding and counting the cards.
Card Value
Red Threes1 100 points each
Jokers ("big jokers")2 50 points each
Twos ("little jokers")2 20 points each
Aces 20 points each
King through Eight 10 points each
Seven through Four 5 points each
Black Threes1 5 points each
Table 1: Point Values And Ordering For Cards

Notes for Table 1:

  1. Cards of rank 3 get special treatment described below.
  2. There are two kinds of jokers, "Big Jokers" are cards marked as jokers and "little jokers" are twos. They are interchangeable in all circumstances except that they have different point values.

Card Order

Table 1 also defines an absolute ordering of the cards. This ordering is used when determining the teams and the dealer of the first round. Among cards of the same point value little jokers come before aces, and the other cards are ordered by rank. For example, a King comes before a Queen. Among cards of the same rank, the suit ordering from highest to lowest is spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.

Before The Game: Choosing Teams

Teams can be selected in any manner the players can agree upon (oldest vs youngest, boys against girls, etc.).

A recommended way to select teams is to choose cards, as follows:

  1. After shuffling, each player selects a card at random (without looking at the face).
  2. The players with the highest card (see the ordering in values) are on one team and the other half are on the other team. For example, if there are 6 players, the 3 players who ended up with the cards of highest value form one team.
  3. In the case of a tie (the exact same card), the players involved in the tie pick again to determine their relative order (all other players retain their position).

Teammates sit opposite each other as described under "players and teams".

Dealing the Cards

The dealer of the first round can be selected in any manner the players can agree upon. A recommended way is to have each player select a card at random from the deck. The player whose card would be first in the order described above deals the first hand. If cards were used to choose teams, the same card can be reused to determine who deals the first round.

After shuffling the cards, the player dealing the hands cuts the deck and uses the stack of cards they cut to deal 13 cards (face down) for each player.

The cut is important because the dealer's team gets a 100 point bonus if the dealer can cut exactly the correct number of cards to deal the hand plus one card to start the discard pile. This is 53 cards for 4 players or 79 cards for 6 players.

Deal the feet at the same time. The team-mate on the right of the dealer deals the feet. (He will be two players away.) As with dealing hand, the dealer cuts the cards to attempt to get exactly the number of cards needed to deal the "feet". The foot is also 13 cards, so the dealer of the foot tries to cut 52 cards for a 4-player game and 78 cards for a 6 -player game. This is one card less than the dealer of the foot, since the person dealing the foot does not create the discard pile.

Because both deals are happening simultaneously, a dealer typically creates the hands or feet near him then carefully distributes them to the players, making sure the dealt order is preserved. The cards are dealt in a clockwise order. Players study their hand in prepartion for play, but their foot must not be looked at and is stored just out of reach until it is needed.

The remainder of the undealt cards remain in a face-down pile in the middle of the table, forming a deck. Cards are always drawn face down from the top of the deck. The discard pile sits next to the deck and is pile of face up cards, with only the most recent discard showing.

Usually the discard pile contains one card immediately after the deal, created by the player who deals the hand. This first card cannot be a red three, joker, or 2, so the top of the deck is discarded until a different card is found. Note that this process takes place after the hands have been dealt, so the number of cards needed for the 100 point bonus is always the same.

For the next round, both deals pass one player to the left.

The Play

Players play in turn, moving clockwise starting to the left of the person dealing the hands.

Teams always work together. Each team designates a "captain" to collect all cards layed out by their team. (Usually the person with the most table space.)

After the deal, play starts with the person to the left of the dealer of the hand.

On the first turn, a player can lay out red threes from his hand, replacing them with cards from the deck before his turn begins.

A turn normally consists of:

  1. Drawing 2 cards or picking up 7 from the discard pile;
  2. Optionally laying out cards, contributing to your team's layed out cards;
  3. Discarding one card to the top of the discard pile.

Starting Play by Drawing Cards or Picking Up The Pile

Each turn begins by taking cards either from the deck or from the discard pile. This section describes both options in detail.

If the player draws cards, he draws 2 cards. A red three drawn from the deck is layed out immediately and replaced with another new card from the deck.

Alternatively, a player may "pick up the pile", which means taking the top 7 cards from the discard pile. If the discard pile contains fewer than 7 cards, he takes the whole pile. To pick up the pile, all of the following must be met:

  1. The top of the discard pile must not be a (black) three;
  2. The player must hold two cards of the same rank as the top card;
  3. The player must immediately lay out these three cards (the two he is holding and the top discard), possibly along with other cards he is holding.
  4. The player's team must have melded, or the player melds while picking up the pile. Only the top card of the discard pile can be used towards the points needed for melding: the 6 other cards cannot be used towards points needed for the meld.

Jokers are like any other card and can be picked up. Since little jokers and big jokers are interchangeable, they can be used in any combination to pick up the pile.

Laying Out Cards


The general rule for laying out cards is that a single player holding 3 or more cards of the same rank can lay them out on the table, starting a canasta. A canasta can also be started with 2 cards of the same rank and a joker. Once a canasta has been started, any number of additional cards of the same rank can be added.

Seven cards closes a canasta. Closed canastas are put off to the side to be scored at the end of the round.

Each team shares layed out cards. So, the team works together to build canastas, although they must be started individually.

There are three kinds of canastas:

Three's cannot be used in Canastas. Red threes are layed out by themselves, and black threes can only be discarded.


For each round, the first time cards are layed out is called the meld. A team melds before laying out cards any other cards (except red threes) or picking up the discard pile.

To meld, a player lays out cards totalling the minimum required points for that round. Red threes do not count towards melding. A player must meld on his own, without help from his teammates. But the meld counts for the entire team, so the first player who can do so melds for the entire team.

The meld must start at least one clean or one joker canasta (i.e., not all dirty).

Minimum Meld Requirements for Each Round

Each round has a different minimum required points to meld. These are::

Round 1 .......... 50 points
Round 2 .......... 90 points
Round 3 .......... 120 points
Round 4 .......... 150 points

Adding Cards to Closed Canastas

Cards can also be added to closed canastas of the same rank. This doesn't change the value of the canasta, but allows a player to get rid of held cards and counts as a few extra points.

Jokers cannot be added to a closed canasta, even a joker canasta.

Starting a Second Canasta of the Same Rank

Each team cannot build more than one canasta of a given rank at the same time. For example, one cannot start a new clean canasta of 9's when a dirty canasta of 9's has been started but not closed.

Once a canasta is closed, a new canasta of the same rank can be started.

Ending Play By Discarding

A player's turn ends when he puts a card on the discard pile. As soon as the discard is released, the turn is over. This means the player can no longer lay out cards (red threes, cards to build canastas, etc.).

Courtesy exception: To keep the game moving, if a player has a large number of cards to lay out, before they discard they can ask for dispensation to keep laying out cards after they discard. This a dangerous, but keeps the game moving briskly.

Discarding a black three blocks the next player from picking up from the discard pile. A red three cannot be discarded. It is unusual to discard a joker. See picking up the pile for details.

Going On Your Foot

When a player lays out all the cards held in their hand, they pick up their foot and continue playing. If a player lays out all but one card from their hand, they can discard it, ending their turn. They then pick up their foot and continue play with it on the next turn.

Red threes in your foot should be layed out on the first turn in which you play it. Unlike every other time, you don't replace red threes from your foot with cards from the deck.

Going Out

The round ends when a player "goes out". To do so, the following conditions must be met:

  1. All team members must have finished playing their hand. (They may be between hand and foot.)
  2. The team must have 7 clean canastas.
  3. The team must have 1 joker canasta.

A player goes out but laying out all but one held card. They discard this final card and say "I'm out".

Running Out of Cards in the Deck

In the unlikely event that the deck is exhausted before anyone goes out, the round ends after the person who draws last completes their turn.


As in most card games, communication is generally not allowed.

However, a player may ask his teammates if it is okay to go out.


This section summarizes all the special rules for Three's.

Red Three's

The following points apply to red threes:

Black Three's

The following points apply to black threes:


After each round, each team compute their score for the round. They add this to their total score for the game.

Bonus for Going Out

When a player goes out, his team earns a 100 point bonus.

Subtracting Hands & Feet

Cards held in a player's hand or foot at the end of a round count against the team. Totals are calculated by summing card values.

Counting Canastas

Canastas earn points as follows:

Counting the Cards

After canastas are counted, all the cards layed out are counted. This includes cards that formed canastas, red threes, cards added to closed canastas, and incomplete canastas.

Red threes are typically counted while counting canastas, in which case they aren't included when counting the cards.

Score Sheet

Scoring for a round can be summarized as follows

    Total Points
Cutting exact amount of deal (100 Points each)    
For "Going Out" (100 Points) =  
Subtract value of unplayed cards in hands and feet =  
Red Threes .......... X 100 points =  
Clean Canastas .......... X 500 points =  
Dirty Canastas .......... X 300 points =  
Joker Canastas .......... X 1500 points =  
Add value of all cards layed out =  
Total For Round