The Rules of Canasta

General Rules


The player left of the dealer goes first, the players take turns in an anticlockwise rotation. The player takes a card from the stock, at the end of his turn the player places one card, face up on the discard pile. Between taking a card and discarding a card the player can lay down new melds or add cards to existing melds.

What is a Meld?

When a player lays down three cards of the same kind, (e.g. three kings) that is called a .meld. each meld must contain at least two natural cards, after that a wild card may be used. The first meld must contain at least 15 points (when there are fewer than 1500 points in play), 90 points (when there are fewer than 3000 points in play) or 120 points (when there are more than 3000 points in play). The minimum number of points is calculated as follows: Aces: 20 points. High cards; from kings down to eights: 10 points. Low cards; from sevens down to fours: (5 points each). Each joker contained in the meld is valued at 50 points, each two contained in the meld is valued at 20 points.

At the start of a player's turn, the first thing that he or she does is either: To take the card on top of the stock, or: Under certain circumstances: To take the card from the top of the discard pile. The player may only take the discard pile when:

Should a joker, or a black three be on top of the discard pile at the beginning of a player's turn, the discard pile is blocked and under no circumstances can any cards be taken from it.

A card that passes to a previously laid down meld may be taken from the discard pile and placed on the said meld.


A canasta consisting of seven cards is depicted by a single card. A canasta which does not contain any wild cards is declared by placing a red card on top of the pile. A canasta which contains a wild card is declared by placing a black card on top of the pile.

There is also such a thing as a joker canasta, that would be a collection of seven wild cards (jokers and twos)

End of the Hand - Going Out

The play ends as soon as a player goes out. You can only go out if your partnership has melded at least one canasta. Once your side has a canasta, you may go out if you can and wish to, by melding all of your cards, or by melding all but one and discarding your last card. It is legal to complete the required canasta and go out on the same turn. There is a exception to this rule; the last meld can consist of black threes. If a player can meld all cards in one turn, provided that one of the melds is a canasta, that player becomes a thousand point bonus.

In the 4 player Canasta it is allowed to ask your partner out or not at the end of a hand. Only the question for out is allowed, other collusions are strictly forbidden.


After a player has "gone out", the scores are calculated. Cards that players have laid down as melds are given a positive evaluation (score) and cards that they still have in their hands are given a negative evaluation. The number of points allocated to each card is shown in the table below. As well as points for cards that have been laid down and cards that are still in the hand, there are points for red threes and for finishing the game (going out).

cards laid down
Cards still in the hand.
4, 5, 6, 755
8, 9, 10, jack, queen, king1010
Black three55
Red three10011002
Four red threes80018002
Jokar Canasta1000
Natural Canasta (no wild cards)500
Mixed Canasta300
Going out
Going out100
Handcanasta (Going out at once)1000

1 if a cansta was laid open
2 if no canasta is laid open

Who is the winner?

The first player, or team to reach a score of 5000 points is the winner.

Playing for Money

When a game has been organised, each player makes his or her stake (either 2,50 ℂ or 5 ℂ). The winner, or the winners get 90% of the total stakes at the end of the game. Leaving the game before it is over means forfeiture of the stake. (If you back out before the end of the game, you lose your money, if you're playing on a team , your partner will lose his, or her, money too), and the money forfeited will be split between the remaining players or teams.


Tournament Dates & Start Money

Canasta tournament take place every day.

Please inquire after the starting times and the stakes of the different games.

90% of the start money (stakes) will be paid out to the winners.


Go to our web site, click on to Tournaments. From the list of different tournaments click on to Canasta tournaments. Choose a tournament that you wish to take part in click to join the game and click again to state that you accept the rules.

Players who have been barred from such gaming activities (red stars) will not be allowed to take part.

You must explicitly state that you accept the rules before you are allowed to take part in a tournament.

After registration, you can contact other players and ask them if they wish to form a team with you.

Players who are registered have the right to accept partnerships or to decline them. Players who enter tournaments alone will be allocated a partner by a random selection principle.

It is important to register in good time. Doing so will get you an early registered status, which remains valid throughout the entire registration period.

A team of two people must be formed for the opening rounds of the tournament.

It is irrelevant thereby who invited whom to form the partnership, the early registered status remains valid.

The Rules of Play

Tournaments will be played according to the rules of canasta and the knock out system. When a team wins it goes on to the next round, when a team loses, it is out of the tournament.

In the event of a draw, an extra game will be played.

There will always have to be a certain number of players before a tournament can begin:

2 player canasta4 player canasta
Final1 table = 2 players1 table = 4 players
Semi-final2 tables = 4 players2 tables = 8 players
Quarter-final4 tables = 8 players4 tables= 16 players
Eighth final8 tables = 16 players8 tables = 32 players

In the event of the above system not being possible, wild cards will be randomly distributed (only for two-player canasta). This will qualify players directly for the next round.

In four-player canasta tournaments, 48 registered contestants will play with wild cards so that all contestants will be able to play.

During the registration period it will be shown how many contestants can take part and how many further contestants, over and above that number are registered. E.g. 16+3 for 19 registered contestants.

The different games commence as soon as all of the contestants have qualified.

Each contestant has 12 minutes to think about what they want to do when it's their turn in a two player game, or 15 minutes in a four player game. Should the maximum time be exceeded then the game is forfeit. (In a four player game the game is also forfeit for the partner of the player who exceeds the time limit).

In the event of a "tie", a "further game" will be played.

All relevant information concerning the tournament will be posted on the web-site. In this way, by looking at the scores of the different players, it will be possible to asses when the next round will begin. When it has been decided who is playing against whom, the waiting period is set at two minutes. The period of time that the first player has to make his play starts after the second card has been played.

Evaluation and Payment

After completion of the tournament the results will be posted. The winners and their respective prizes will be disclosed. The winnings will be transferred to the winners when the tournament is over. During the tournament and after the tournament, the results of the individual games can be followed. Just click on the team in question and then on run of events.


In the list of different tournaments and in the details belonging to them some symbols are used to show the state of the tournement itself and the player that joined it. The following symbols are shown:

Tournament in general Player
upcoming tournament joined left
Registration possible did not appear Partner left tournament
Tournament started no partner Game ended
Tournament ended in game Winner/s
registered Wildcard

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