- What Is Hand and Foot?
- Number of Players
- Special Rules and Point Values for Cards
- Types of Canastas/Books and Point Values
- Playing Your Turn
- The Initial Meld
- Getting Your Foot
- Going Out
- Scoring the Round
- Winning the Game
- Miscellaneous Rules
- Swipe Cards
What Is Hand and Foot?
Hand & Foot is a popular version of the card game Canasta. The game is played in four rounds, with each round named based on how many points you have to initially meld, or play on the board, as a team in order to pick up the card pile: round of 50, round of 90, round of 120, and round of 150. Players are dealt two sets of cards: one is their hand, and the second is their foot, which is placed face down at first and can only be played after all the cards in the hand have been played.
Hand & Foot Friends & Family Edition, or HFFE for short, is an online version of the game that allows players of all ages to play together, or against computer opponents.
The goal of Hand & Foot is:
- To get rid of all the cards in your hand so you can then play the cards in your foot…
- … by melding your cards and forming canastas (a set of 7 cards all of the same rank, such as all 4s or all Jacks)...
- … while scoring more points than your opponent(s).
Number of Players
With HFFE, you can play a two-player or four-player game (two teams of two players each).
Hand & Foot is played with three to five decks of cards, including Jokers, depending on the number of players and number of required canastas.
The number of players typically determines how many cards are dealt in the hand and foot for each player:
- 2-player games: 15 cards each in the hand and foot
- 4-player: 11 or 13 cards each in the hand and foot
HFFE allows you to choose how many cards you want dealt when you are setting up a new game.
Special Rules and Point Values for Cards
- Aces: 20 points
- 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King: 10 points
- 4, 5, 6, 7: 5 points
- Black 3s: can only be used to discard. If you get caught with a Black 3 in your hand you lose 5 points.
- Red 3s: can be used as a discard and if the other player/team goes out and you have a Red 3 in your hand or foot, then you lose 500 points (ouch!).
- Wild cards: Jokers (worth 50 points) and 2s (worth 20 points, also known as “deuces”).
Types of Canastas/Books and Point Values
Canastas, also known as “books”, are a set of seven (7) cards, all of the same rank (so all 6s or all Queens, etc.). There are two types:
- Red canastas: containing all natural cards, no wild cards
- Black canastas: containing natural and one to three wild cards
Red canastas are worth 500 points while black canastas are worth 300 points.
Two other types of canastas, Sambas (canastas containing sequential runs of the same suit) and Bolivias (canastas of only wild cards), are not yet supported by Hand & Foot Friends & Family Edition.
Playing Your Turn
A player’s turn consists of up to three parts:
- Drawing two cards or picking up the pile
- Melding cards
- Discarding a card
Let’s talk about each of these…
Drawing two cards or picking up the pile
To start your turn you can either draw two cards from the Draw pile, or pick up the card at the top of the Pick Up pile. You can NEVER draw two cards AND pick up the pile.
Drawing two cards from the Draw pile is self-explanatory. But in order to be able to pick up the card at the top of the Pick Up pile there are a few things that you need to know:
- You cannot pick up a black 3 or a red 3.
- You must have two natural cards in your hand of the same rank as the top card (for example, if your opponent discards a King, then you have to have two Kings in your hand, it doesn’t matter which suit, as long as you have Kings).
- You cannot already have a canasta in the rank you are trying to pick up (for example, if you already have a completed canasta of 4s then you cannot pick up a 4, even if you have two 4s in your hand).
- And now, for the most complicated, you (or your team, if you’re playing with a partner) needs to have melded enough points to meet your meld threshold OR you need to be able to meld enough points in the process of picking up the card (you can use the point value of the top card you are picking up towards your meld threshold, but only the top card). See the section “The Initial Meld” for more details.
- When you pick up the top card you must take the next five cards in the pile, for a total of 6 cards (there is a game configuration setting where you get the top card and the next six cards, for a total of 7).
- The two cards from your hand, and the card from the top of the Pick Up pile must be immediately melded.
- You cannot pick up a card if it forces you to make a canasta of a type you already have enough of. This one’s tricky so here’s an example: say your team needs to make four natural canastas and five unnatural canastas and your team has already made your team’s four unnatural canastas and only four of the five required unnatural canastas. And then let’s say you have a meld of four 10s on the board, have two 10s in your hand, and an opponent discards a 10. You cannot pick up the 10 from the pile because it would force you to add three 10s to your meld (the two from your hand and the top 10 your opponent discarded), resulting in seven natural 10s, which would make a natural canasta. But your team cannot make any more natural canastas until your team finishes making your five unnatural canastas. However, if your team had already made your four natural canastas and five unnatural canastas then you could pick up the 10 from the pile to make an extra natural canasta.
- You CANNOT “undo” your choice of drawing two cards versus picking up the pile, so be careful what you choose.
A meld consists of 3-7 cards played on the game table. A meld becomes a canasta (or book) when you add the seventh card.
Here are some rules for melding:
- You have to draw or pick up the pile before you meld.
- To start a meld you must have three natural cards in a rank (for example, three Aces), or two natural cards and a wild card (two Aces and a Joker or two Aces and a 2).
- You cannot already have a canasta in that rank (for example, if you have a canasta of 6s then you cannot start a new meld of 6s).
- You cannot meld black 3s or red 3s.
- You cannot meld wild cards (unless “Bolivias” are allowed, which are canastas of all wild cards).
- Your meld needs to contain cards that are all the same rank (for example, all 5s or all 7s), unless “Sambas” are allowed, which are canastas with a sequential run of cards with the same suit, such as 4 of Hearts, 5 of Hearts, 6 of Hearts, etc.).
- You can add cards to an existing canasta at any time (there is a rule configuration that only lets you add cards to an existing canasta when going out).
- You can add up to three wild cards to a meld, but the number of natural cards always has to be at least one more than the number of wild cards:
- To play one wild card you need at least two natural cards of the same rank.
- To play two wild cards, you need at least three natural cards of the same rank.
- To play three wild cards, you need four natural cards of the same rank.
- If you make a mistake when you are melding you can press the “undo” button to clear ALL the cards you have melded.
Discarding a card
To end your turn, you take one card and discard. Here are some rules for discarding:
- You cannot discard a wild card.
- If you have already gotten your foot you cannot discard the last card in your hand unless you (or your team if you are playing with a partner) has made the required number of natural and unnatural canastas.
- You CANNOT “undo” the card you choose to discard, so be careful.
The Initial Meld
In order to meld at all in a new round, you (or your partner) must meld enough cards to meet the “meld threshold” for that round. Conveniently, the meld threshold for the round of 50 is 50 points, the meld threshold for the round of 90 is 90 points, etc. For example, say your opponent discards a Jack, and let’s say you have two Jacks in your hand, and three Kings in your hand. You can tap the Pick Up pile to indicate you want to pick up the Jack, and that will count 10 points to your 50 point threshold. The other two Jacks in your hand add 20 points, so now you have 30 of the 50 points you need. Then you can meld the three Kings in your hand, which brings you to 60 points, which exceeds your meld threshold. Congratulations, you melded!
Getting Your Foot
Once you meld or discard all the cards in your hand, then you automatically receive the cards from your foot. This is called “getting your foot”.
NOTE: You do NOT need to have a discard in order to get your foot. If you can play all the cards from your hand on your existing melds, then you can immediately get your foot and continue your turn to either meld more cards from your foot or discard a card from your foot. This is called “playing through” when you meld all the remaining cards in your hand and continue playing from the cards from your foot.
You must discard a card in order to go out and wildcards cannot be discarded.
Before a player or team can “go out” they have to form the required number of canastas for each round. The number of canastas you need to go out can be configured when setting up a new game.
- Two-player games: either three red and four black canastas, or one red and one black canasta required.
- Four-player games: either four red and five black canastas, or one red and one black canasta required.
You can make extra canastas to score more points, but you cannot form any extra canastas until you have made the required number of each type (for example, in a four-player game, you cannot make a fifth red canastas until you have made all five of your required black canastas).
If you are playing with a partner you should always ask your partner for their permission to go out. You would ask, “May I go out?” and your partner can only answer “Yes” or “No”. If they say “No” you can still go out, but your partner might not want to play with you again!
Tip: If your partner has a red 3 in their hand and you go out that would count 500 points against your team so it is always wise to ask your partner for permission prior to going out.
Scoring the Round
HFFE does this for you automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it. But it helps to know that there are three types of scores for each round:
- Base: this is the point total for the number of red and black canastas you have made.
- Count: this is the point total of all the individual cards you have melded, including those melds that have become canastas. Any cards that you have in your hand or foot count against you.
- Bonus: the player or team that goes out gets 100 bonus points in that round
Winning the Game
The player or team with the most points at the end of the four rounds (50, 90, 120, and 150) wins the game. If the score for each team is the same then the game ends in a tie.
- If the Draw pile runs out of cards then all the cards from the Pick Up pile will be turned over and placed into the Draw pile, and then play continues as usual.
- There is a game configuration setting that allows you to meld three or more blacks 3s, but ONLY on the last turn when you are going out. You must have all natural cards, no wild cards allowed. And if you happen to have seven black 3s in your hand on your last turn (which would be extremely rare) you cannot form a canasta.
- No “talking”. Hand and Foot is a very social game so feel free to talk about whatever topics suit you. But if you are playing a game with partners then you should never talk about the cards you have or strategies during the game or ask your partner which canastas to make, which card to discard, etc. This is called “steering” and if the other team starts talking about the cards in their hand or how to play them, then you can tell them to “stop talking.”
Swipe Cards is a variation of Hand & Foot and is unique to HFFE. It was launched in 2023 and allows a player to swipe, or steal, their opponent's cards when the player completes their own canasta. This adds a new level of strategy and intrigue to Hand & Foot.