Guest Author - Robin Rounds Whittemore
Canasta is a team player game. Usually two players are on each team and the team members sit across from each other when the game is played. Should you not want to play with teams, you can have two or more people play individually instead of having teams.
One person starts as the dealer and play continues to the left after a total of eleven cards are dealt to each person. Each person sees only their own hand. There are no hints give to team members at any time, except when it comes to going out.
PLAY AND GOING OUT:
The object is to be the first team to get at least one Canasta, which is a meld of seven cards of the same rank, and go out. Going out means that one person on a team has used up all of their cards.
It is customary to ask your partner if you can go out. This way if your partner has cards they really want to play, they can say no. If they would rather you did not go out, you will have to abide by their decision. All they can say is a one word answer; either yes or no. There is no explanation allowed when the answer is "no".
MELDS AND CANASTAS:
Melds are made using three or more cards of the same rank. If you have two cards of the same rank and a Joker or a two, those cards can be added to make a meld. You cannot have more than three wild cards in a meld. One other rule on melds is that you need at least two natural cards of the same rank before putting in a wild card to add to the meld.
Unlike rummy, there is no using sequences of cards, for example; Ace-2-3 of clubs to make a meld. The cards must be 7-7-7 or 7-7-Joker for a mixed meld. You could also use a 7-7-2 for a mixed meld. A meld of 7-2-Joker, for example, would be against the rules.
You need to have three or more cards of the same rank to make a meld to put down on the board or table. A meld of seven cards makes a Canasta. A natural Canasta is where no wild cards are used in the meld. A mixed Canasta has up to three wild cards included. There can never be more than three wild cards on a card rank at a time.
The only time you can add to your meld is when it is your turn. You may not go on your teammate's turn, nor can they make a play on yours. If you look at your hand and realized you should have played a card; you will have to wait until it is your turn to correct the matter.