GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted March
4th, 2013


How to Play the Card Game Hand and


Happy Camper Blog



Playing cardsHand and Foot
is a North American game related to canasta.

Each player is dealt two sets of cards using one as the “hand” and
one as the “foot. There are numerous variations of the game and no “standard”
rules. You can either play as individuals or as teams. The most common
version of the game is played with four players in partnerships; it can also
be played by six people in two teams of three or by any number of

The following rules are for our “favorite” way to play with four
people, two teams of two:

  • Decks: You’ll
    need four full deck of 52 cards, including the jokers – one deck per

  • Dealing:
    You can choose of the two options to deal, but
    whatever method is chosen should be used consistently within the


1. Choose which partnership deals first. After all the cards have
been sufficiently shuffled, one partner takes half the cards and deals 11
cards to each player face down, these cards will be your hand stack. The
second partner takes the other half of the cards and deals 11 cards to each
player face down, these cards become your foot stack. Subsequent deals rotate
to the left to spread the deal.  

2. Choose which player goes first. After all the cards have been
sufficiently shuffled place all the cards in the middle of the table in two
face down stacks. The first player selects a random “stack” of cards off the
stock, without actually counting, trying to get as close to 22 total cards as
possible*. The player counts their cards into two stacks of 11 cards each,
one for the hand stack and one for the foot stack. If they have selected too
many or too little cards, replace or pull additional cards from the stack in
the middle of the table to get to a total of 22 cards, 11 in the hand, 11 in
the foot. Rotate left for remaining players to select their

*If a player originally pulls exactly 22 cards off the center
stacks – they earn 300 bonus points.

3. After each round of play is completed, the turn to deal passes
to the left.

  • Object of the Game: The aim is to
    get rid of cards from your hand (11 cards), and then from your foot (11
    cards), by melding them
  • What is a MELD? A set of three to
    seven cards of equal rank placed face up on the table.

    • A Meld cannot have fewer than three cards.
    • Melds belong to a partnership and not an individual player.
    • After a meld has been started, each partner can play further cards on
      either partners melds until there are seven, it then becomes a “closed
    • A meld cannot contain more than seven cards.
    • If you complete a pile, you can start another meld of the same
    • You can meld cards of any rank from A, K, Q, … down to 4.
    • Deuces or 2’s and Jokers are wild cards and can be used in melds, as
      long as there is at least twice as many real cards of the rank of the meld as
      wild cards.
    • Red and black threes cannot be used in melds.
    • A meld can contain a total of two wild cards at most.
    • You cannot meld wild cards alone.
    • A Meld of seven cards is complete and is called a
    • There are two types of melds

      • 1. A Clean (Natural) Meld has no wild cards and may become a Red
      • 2. A Dirty(Wild) Meld has wild cards and may become a Black
    • While melds are laid out face up for everyone to see, completed piles
      are stacked up and the card placed on top shows the type – a red card for a
      Red Pile, a black card for a Black Pile. Cards of equal rank can be played on
      completed Piles.
    • Wild cards cannot be played on Piles.


1. The remainder of the cards are placed face down in the
middle of the table to form a “stock”.

2. The players “foot” cards are placed faced down and set aside –
players are not allowed to look at them until they have played all the cards
in their hands.

3. Each player picks up their “hand” and play begins with the
player on the left of the one who “dealt” the round.

4. Turn to play passes clockwise around the table until someone
goes out.

5. At each turn a player:

  • Draws the top two cards off the stock**
  • Has the option of melding some cards, assuming round minimum can be met,
    or adding cards to their partners meld
  • Discards one card on the discard pile to end their turn

**Instead of drawing two cards off
the stock, you may take the top five cards from the discard pile. If the pile
contains fewer than five cards, you may take the whole pile, but you may
never take more than five cards from the discard pile at any one time. In
order to pick up from the discard pile you must:

  • You must hold two cards which are the same rank as the top
  • You must immediately meld these three cards (the two you are holding and
    the top discard), along with any other cards you wish to play

5. After picking up from the discard pile, complete your turn by
by discarding one card as usual.


A game consists of four rounds. Each round has a minimum meld
requirement that increases with each round.

You must put down cards whose individual face values add up to at
least the minimum requirement before your team is “in the game”. You
can put down several melds at once to achieve this. If you are picking up the
pile, you can meld additional cards from you hand along with the top discard
and the two that match to help you make up the minimum count, including wild
cards. However, you cannot count any of the other six cards you are pick up
towards the minimum.


  • Round 1, cards points must total at least 50 to start
  • Round 2, cards points must total at least 90 to start
  • Round 3, cards points must total at least 120 to start
  • Round 4, cards points must total at least 150 to start


When you have been able to play all the cards in your hand, by
either melding or discarding them, you then pick up your foot and play from

If you are able to get rid of all your cards in your hand without
discarding, you can continue to play into your foot during that hand. If you
have to discard the last card to get into your foot, you must hold your play
until your turn comes around the table.


Red and black threes are exception cards and have no real use. Red
threes are undesirable cards and if you find you are holding a red three you
should discard it as soon as possible. If you are caught with a red three in
your hand or foot at the end of a round, your team will be charged minus 300
points per red three against your total score. Black threes have no use
except to block the next player from picking up from the discard pile when
you discard them. If you have any black threes left in your hand or foot at
the end of a round counts 5 points against your teams total score. There is
no way to get rid of a black three, except for discarding them, one by one,
into the discard pile.


The play ends when one of the partners “goes out”. In order to go
out, your partnership must:

  1. Have at completed at least two Red Piles and two Black
  2. Your partner must have picked up their foot and played at least part of a
    turn from it.
  3. You must ask your partners permission to go out. If your partner agrees
    you must meld all of your remaining cards, or meld all but one of your
    remaining cards and discard your last card. If your partner says “no” you
    cannot go out.

You do not have to discard to go out, all possible cards can be
melded to complete the game. Scoring You receive
two scores per hand. You score points for the combined face value of all
cards you have melded AND for each pile. If your team did not go out, you are
caught with cards in your hand or foot and you lose points for those cards
left at the end of the play. The round ends when the first team gets rid of
all the cards in their Hand and Foot, by melding/booking or discarding them.
Card Values

  • Jokers = 50 points (Wild Card)
  • Deuces = 20 points (Wild Card)
  • Aces = 20 points
  • Eight through King (8-K) = 10 points
  • Four through Seven (4-7) = 5 pointsKing (8-K) = 10
  • Red three = minus 300 points
  • Black three = minus 5 points

Pile Values

  • Red Pile = 500 points
  • Black Pile = 300 points
  • Player going out gets 100 bonus points
  • 5/500 – Black threes are -5 points, Red threes are -500

Learn more about
this game and others at pagat.com