**Variations of Canasta**

During the early 1950s as Canasta’s popularity spread throughout the United States and abroad, many variants of Canasta cropped up in various countries and in some cases, the draw poker variations have become just as popular as the original game. But in my opinion, none of them is as good as the standard two-deck partnership game. However, for the player who likes novelty and variety.

**Uruguay Canasta**

Uruguay Canasta, the forerunner of Regular Partnership Canasta, is played the same, except for the following:

1. From three to seven wild cards form a valid meld. A Canasta (seven cards) of wild cards counts 2,000 points.

2. The discard pile is always frozen the discard pile may be taken up only when the player holds two natural cards matching the upcard.

**Bolivian Canasta**

Bolivian Canasta is played the same as is regular Canasta. The points on which Bolivia differs from Regular Partnership Canasta are as follows:

1. Three standard decks of 52 cards plus six jokers are used, making a 162-card deck.

2. Game is 15,000 points.

3. Each player is dealt 15 cards.

4. A draw from the stock is two cards, but only one card is discarded.

5. Wild Cards. From three to seven wild cards form a valid meld. A Canasta of seven wild cards is Bolivia and counts 2,500 points.

6. A sequence meld of three or more cards in the same suit forms a valid meld for example, the four-five-six of hearts. A suit ranks from ace (high) to four (low) wild cards and threes are not involved. A seven-card straight sequence in the same suit (containing no wild cards) is called an Escalera and counts 1,500 points.

7. Contract Melds. Here are the requirements for the initial meld: A minus score needs 15 points; zero to 1,495 needs 50 points; 1,500 to 2,995 needs 90 points, 3,000 to 6,995 needs 120 points; 7,000 or more needs 150 points.

8. Two canastas are required to go out, and at lest one of them must be an Escalera. A black three left in the hand counts 100 minus. A black three melded counts only 5 points.

9. Red threes count 100 points each all six count 1,000. They count plus if the partnership has melded two canastas.

**Natural Canasta**

A wild-card Canasta counts 2,000 points. Red threes count 100 points each, five red threes count 1,000 points, and all six counts 1,200 points. They count plus if the partnership has melded two canastas of any kind, otherwise, they count minus. If a partnership has a melded sequence of fewer than five cards when the hand ends, 1,000 points are deducted from its score.

**Cuban Canasta**

This game is the same as Regular Partnership canasta poker, except for the following:

1. Thirteen cards are dealt to each player. Draw one card in each turn.

2. The pack is always frozen (may be taken only by a natural matching pair) and canastas may not contain more than seven cards.

3. Game is 7,500. From 5,000 up, initial meld must be 150.

4. One canasta is required before a side may score for its melds, or go out. It is necessary to have a discard when going out. You may not start a second meld of the same rank as a previous meld, unless the first meld is a completed canasta.

5. Red threes count, 100 for one, 300 for two, 500 for three, and 1,000 for all four. They count minus unless a side has at least one canasta.

6. Black threes may not be discarded on the first round. Any black threes in the pack when they are taken are discarded and out of play, counting 5 each for the side that took them. All four black threes, discarded or melded, count 100.

7. Wild cards may be melded and a canasta of wild cards counts as follows: 4,000 for seven deuces; 3,000 for four jokers and three deuces 2,000 for any other combination of seven wild cards. Sequences may not be melded. A discard pile topped by a wild card may not be taken.

8. Going out earns the 100-point bonus.

**Mexican**

The basic rules of Regular Partnership Canasta apply except for the following:

1. A triple deck is used, with six jokers (162 cards).

2. Each player is dealt 13 cards. When a player makes the initial meld for his side, he draws the top 13 cards of the stock and adds them to his hand.

3. The discard pile may not be taken when topped by a seven. But sevens may be melded as usual, and a canasta of sevens (natural or mixed) counts 1,000.

4. To go out, a side must have two canastas, plus at least as many red threes as it has canastas.

**Joker Canasta**

Joker Canasta is played the same as Regular Partnership Canasta with the following exceptions:

1. Thirteen cards are dealt to each online poker player.

2. The discard pile is always frozen (it may be taken only by a natural pair from the hand).

3. The game is 8,500 points. The initial minimum meld is 100 points for a score under 3,000; a meld of 130 points is needed from 3,000 to 4,995; and a meld of 150 points is needed from 5,000 to the end of the game.

4. No canasta may contain more than seven cards.

5. A partnership needs two canastas to go out.

6. Wild cards may be melded. A canasta of seven deuces counts 4,000 points; a wild card canasta counts 3,000 points if it includes all four jokers any other wild-card canasta counts 2,000 points.

7. Black threes are played and scored the same as red threes but points for black threes and red threes are counted separately. A partnership’s first three in a color counts 100 points, two in that color count 300 points, three in that color count 500 points, and all four in that color count 1,000 points. The black and red threes are counted minus against a partnership that fails to complete a canasta.

**Italian Canasta**

This is the same as Regular Partnership Canasta, except for the following:

1. A triple deck is used with six jokers (162 cards). Each hand is dealt 15 cards and the draw from the stock is two cards (each player discards one card).

2. After the deal and before a card is turned, each player replaces his red threes. Then the top card is turned. A number of cards equal to its rank (counting jack 11, queen 12, king 13, ace or joker 20) are counted off the stock to begin the discard pile. They are turned face down, and the upcard is placed face up on them.

3. The discard pile is always frozen.

4. Deuces may be melded as an independent rank, with or without the aid of jokers as wild cards. A Side that has melded deuces may not meld deuces as wild cards elsewhere until the canasta of deuces is completed.

5. The game is 12,000 and the initial meld must meet the required count without aid of any wild card.

6. Minimal count:

- 0 to 1,495 – 50
- 1,500 to 2,995 – 90
- 3,000 to 4,995 – 120
- 5,000 to 7,495 – 160
- 7,000 to 9,995 – 180
- 10,000 or more – 200

**Wild-Card Canasta**

1. A wild-card canasta does not count as one of the two canastas required to go out. The bonus for going out is 300.

2. When a side has no more than three red threes, they count 100 each four or more, 200 each.

3. Seven deuces count 3,000; a mixed canasta of deuces and jokers counts 2,000. But, these bonuses go only to the side that goes out opponents having deuce melds score only the point value of the cards. Extra bonuses for five pure canastas, 2,000; for five canastas including a mixed one, 1,000; for ten canastas of any kind, 2,000.

**Pennies from Heaven**

While there are several variations of Canasta called by this name, it usually means the game for six players, in two partnerships of three players each. The rules of Regular Partnership Canasta apply with the following exceptions:

1. Use four decks plus eight jokers (216 cards). Deal 13 cards to each player, then deal each player a packet of 11 cards, face down which he may add to his hand when he has completed his first canasta. Draw two cards from the stock and discard one card per turn.

2. No canasta may contain more than seven cards.

3. Sevens may not be discarded until each side has completed a canasta of sevens (natural or mixed ), which counts 1,500 points. A seven may not be discarded in going out.

4. Wild cards may ed melded (jokers and deuces together) and a wild-card canasta counts 1,000 points. But the discard pile may not be taken when topped by a wild card.

5. Red threes count 100 each if all eight are held by one side, they count 1,000. They count minus for a side that has not completed a canasta of seven.

6. Requirements for initial meld are:

- Minus – 15
- 0 to 495 – 50
- 500 to 995 – 90
- 1,000 to 1,495 – 120

**Canasta of Sevens**

1. To go out, a side must have a canasta of sevens, one of wild cards, one natural, and one mixed.

2. Game is 20,000 points.

**Race Horse Canasta**

The poker rules of Pennies from Heaven apply except for the following:

1. With four players, each receives 15 cards; with six players, each receives 13 cards.

2. The first player to complete any canasta gets a bonus of 11 cards from the top of the stock. These 11 cards are placed in the player’s hand and may not be melded until his next turn. There is only one such bonus in each deal.

3. A mixed canasta of sevens counts only 1,000 points.

4. The discard pile is always frozen it may be taken only with a natural pair from the hand.

5. The initial meld requirements are as follows:

- 0 to 2,995 – 50
- 3,000 to 5,995 – 90
- 6,000 to 9,995 – 120
- 10,000 or more – 150

**Samba**

This game is played in the same manner as Regular Partnership Canasta except for the following rule changes:

1. Three standard 52-card decks plus six jokers are combined, making 162 cards in all. Each player of the two partnerships (four players) is dealt 15 cards. A Draw from the stock (when not picking up a discard or discards ) is two cards, but only one card is discarded.

2. A Samba is seven cards of the same suit in sequence and ranks as a canasta (seven cards of the same rank) for purposes of going out. Three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive rank (as in Gin Rummy ) are a valid meld. A suit ranks from ace (high) to four (low), with wild deuces and threes not involved. Such a meld may be increased by sequential cards up to a total of seven, when it becomes a samba and is turned face down; no more cards may be added to it. No wild cards may be used in a sequence. The bonus award for a samba is 1,500 points.

3. No more than two wild cards may be used in a group meld. Natural cards from a player’s hand may be played off (added) to a canasta, but the discard pile may not be taken to add its upcard to a completed canasta.

4. A partnership may meld two or more groups of the same rank. Either partner at his turn of play may combine such groups for canasta-building. Separate partnership sequence melds may be joined if they do not exceed a Seven Card sequence meld.

5. The discard pile may be taken only by melding its upcard with a natural pair from the hand, or (if frozen) to layoff the upcard on a sequence or group meld of less than seven cards .

6. Game is 10,000 points, the winning partnership getting credit for the difference between their count and their opponent’s. The initial meld requirements are:

- Minus – 15
- 0 to 1,495 – 50
- 1,500 to 2,995 – 90
- 3,000 to 6,995 – 120
- 7,000 or more – 150

7. In order to go out, a partnership must have at least two canastas or two sambas or one of each. A side must go out to count its melds of red threes. If all six red threes are melded by one partnership, they count 1,000 points. The bonus award for going out is 200 points. Concealed hands receive no bonus.

**Note:** The arrangements for playing Samba with two, three, five, or six players are the same as given in the rules for playing Regular Canasta in these forms except that with three players it is possible to deal 15 cards to each player. (In six-hand play, however, 13 cards may be dealt to each player, if all agree.) The standard Samba rules, of course, apply.

**Chilean Canasta**

Chilean Canasta is played the same as Samba except for the following rules:

1. The poker games makes use of four standard 52 card decks plus four jokers, making 212 cards in all. Each player is dealt 11 cards. A Seven Card sequence counts as a canasta, but is not closed; sequential cards up to a total of 11 (ace down to four) may be added.

2. Three or more wild cards of the same rank may be melded and built into canastas.

3. The discard pile may be taken if the upcard may be laid off on a sequence meld, or on a group of wild cards. It may also be taken with a wild-card pair or a natural pair from the hand to initiate a meld.

4. A partnership must have melded two canastas to go out, but its red threes count plus if the partners have melded one canasta.

5. The minimum initial meld is 50 points for scores up to 2,995; it is 90 points from 3,000 to 4,995; and it is 120 points thereafter.

6. As in Samba, game is 10,000 points. A joker counts 30 points, a sequence canasta (seven to ten cards) counts 2,000 points, and an 11-card canasta counts 3,000 points.

**Hollywood Canasta**

Hollywood Canasta is the same as Samba, except for the following:

1. Wild cards may be melded in groups apart from natural cards. A Canasta of wild cards counts 2,000 points.

2. Each group or sequence meld must commence with at least three natural cards. One wild card may be used in a sequence canasta, and two may be used in a group canasta, and two may be used in a group canasta, and two may be used in a group canasta. A mixed sequence canasta counts 1,000 points, a pure sequence counts 1,500 points. Additional cards (wild or otherwise may be added to completed canastas.

3. When the top card is natural, the discard pile may be taken by a matching pair or by two cards in suit and sequence. When the top card is a two, it may be taken by a pair of twos; when it is a joker, by a pair of jokers. When the pile is not frozen, the top card may be taken to lay off on any minor meld (less than seven cards). A one-card pile may never be taken.

4. Red threes count plus if the side has made its initial meld. (But, as in Samba, two canastas are required to go out.)

**Quenelle**

This game is the same as Samba, except for the following:

1. Four decks of 52 cards plus four jokers are combined, making 212 cards in all.

2. Each player receives 11 cards.

3. A sequence of seven counts as a canasta, but is not closed additional cards may be laid off on it, up to the total of 11 cards (ace down to four).

4. Wild cards may be melded and built into canastas.

5. The discard pile may be taken to lay off the top card on a sequence already melded or on a group of wild cards. It may be taken with a natural or wild-card pair from hand to initiate a meld.

6. A side must have two canastas to go out, but its red threes count plus after it has one Canasta.

7. The minimum initial meld requirement is 50 points up to a score sheet of 3,000; then 90 up to 6,000; and 120 thereafter.

8. A joker counts 30. The bonus for a wildcard canasta is 2,000. A sequence canasta of 11 cards counts 3,000.

**Tampa**

This game is the same as Samba, except for the following:

1. Sequences may not be melded. But wild cards may be melded in groups apart from natural cards. A wild–card canasta counts 2,000.

2. A red three counts minus 200 against a side that has not melded when the other side goes out. Otherwise, a side with one to four red threes scores 100 plus for each; it scores 1,000 for five threes and 1,200 for all six.

3. A black three left in hand counts 200 minus, but counts only 5 when melded in going out.

4. The discard pile may be taken only by a natural pair (not wild) matching the top card. Thus it is always “frozen.”

5. The minimum initial meld requirement is 50 points up to 3,000; then 90 up to 5,000; then 120 up to 7,000; and 150 thereafter. As in Samba, game is 10,000.

6. To go out, a side must have two “red” canastas. Wild–card canastas and natural (not mixed ) canastas are “red”.

**Combo Canasta**

This is one of the most exciting and highest-scoring games of the Canasta family.

Requirements

1. Four players, two against two, as partners.

2. Three 52-card decks, plus six jokers; all 162 cards are shuffled together.

**Basic Terms and Rules**

**The deal.** The shuffle and cut are governed by General Rules for Rummy-Games . The dealer gives 15 cards to each player, one at a time, clockwise, beginning with the opponent on his left and ending with himself. The undealt remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the table, becoming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up beside the stock, forming the upcard if the upcard is a joker, a two, or a black or red three, one or more additional cards must be turned up on a it until a natural card of rank ace to four appears.

**Wild cards.** The jokers and deuces are wild. Wild cards may be melded with natural cards (maximum of two wild cads to each meld), or by themselves in a set of from three to seven cards.

**Red Threes.** A player finding a red three in his hand must, at his first turn, put it face up on the table and draw a replacement from the stock. When drawing a red three from the stock he must immediately place it face up on the table and draw a replacement from the stock. In addition, if a player takes a discard pile that contains a red three, or picks up a red three when taking bonus cards from the stock, he must place the red three up on the table but does not draw a replacement.

Each red three has a bonus value of 100 points. A side that acquires all six red threes scores 2,000 points (1,400 additional). If a side, at the end of a deal, has not completed a Bolivia, an Escalera, or a natural canasta of sevens, they score 100 points minus for each red three.

**Black threes.** A Side, after having met their initial meld requirements, may meld a set of three or four black threes as a group in any proper turn of play, but no additional black threes may be added to the meld. No wild cards may be melded with black threes. When a player discards a black three, the next player may not take the discard pile at that turn. If at the end of a deal a player has one or more black threes left in his hand, his side is penalized 200 points for each black three.

**Sevens.** A natural canasta of sevens scores 1,500 points and a mixed canasta of sevens scores 1,000 points. If a player, at the end of a deal, has one or more sevens left in his side is penalized 500 points for each seven. Sevens may be melded and discarded the same as other natural cards.

**Order of Play.** The opponent at the left of the dealer plays first. Thereafter the turn to play rotates clockwise, to the left. In each turn a player must first draw (two cards), then meld (optional), and then discard (one card).

The player in turn is always entitled to draw two cards from the top of the stock. He may instead take the top card of the discard pile to use in a meld; having done so, he must take the rest of the discard pile. But, in Combo-Canasta, the discard pile is always frozen; it may only be taken by a player in turn who has a natural pair in his hand, ace down to four inclusive, that matches the top discard.

When taking the discard pile the player should, before touching the discard pile, show his pair, together with such additional cards as may be necessary to meet the minimum count for the initial meld. Having taken and melded the top discard legally, the player takes the rest of the discard pile into his hand, and may then meld any such additional shuffle cards as he pleases. The discard pile may not be taken when it is topped by a wild card or a black three.

**Melds.** The principal object of play is to form melds. The possible melds are group melds of natural cars (with or without the help of wild cards), sequence melds, and group melds of wild cards. No meld is valid unless it contains at least three cards and no more than seven cards. In addition to the point-count values of the cards, a canasta earns a bonus as follows:

- Bolivia (Wild-Card Canasta) – 2,000
- Escalera (Sequence Canasta) – 1,500
- Sevens (Natural, no Wild Cards) – 1,500
- Sevens (Nixed with Wild Cards) – 1,000
- Red Canasta (Natural, no Wild Cards) – 500
- Black Canasta (Mixed with Wild Cards) – 300

To count plus, a meld must be laid face up on the table, in the proper turn of the player. All cards left in the hand when play ends, even though they form melds, count minus. In his turn, a player may meld as many cards as he pleases, of one rank or of different ranks, forming new melds and adding to previous melds.

But, he must keep one card in his hand so he will be able to discard. (Exception: a discard is not necessary when the stock is exhausted and a player melds his last card.) All melds of a partnership are placed in front of one member thereof. A partnership may make as many different melds as they care to, even if they or their opponents have made previous melds of the same rank. It is legal to combine melds, or to add to melds, provided they do not exceed seven cards. A player may not add cards to his opponent’s melds.

**Minimum Count.** As in Regular Partnership Canasta, all cards have a point-count value as follows:

- Jokers – 50 points each
- Deuces – 20 points each
- Aces – 20 points each
- Kings, queens, jacks, tens, nines, eights – 10 points each
- Sixes, fives, fours, melded, sevens, melded black threes – 5 points each

The point count for all cards left in the hand when the deal is over is the same as above, except that a seven counts 500 points, and a black three counts 200 points against the holder.

The first meld made by a side (its initial meld) must meet a minimum count requirement that depends on the accumulated total score of that side at the beginning of that deal.

**Minimum count:**

- 0 to 3,495 – 60
- 3,500 to 6,995 – 100
- 7,000 to 10, 495 – 140
- 10,500 or over – 180

The count of a meld is the total point value of its component cards. To meet the minimum, a player may make melds of two or more different ranks. If he takes the discard pile, he may count its top card (but no other) toward the requirement. Bonuses for red threes and canastas do not count toward the minimum.

After a side has made its initial meld, either partner may make any valid melds without reference to any minimum count.

**Special Bonus.** The individual player who completes the first canasta (of any kind) in a deal, gets a bonus of eleven cards from the top of the stock the cards become part of his hand and he may meld any or all of the bonus cards in the same turn of play poker. There is only one such bonus in each deal.

**End of Deal.** Each deal is played until the last card has been drawn from the stock; and, if the player who drew the last card melds his entire hand, the game ends. If the player who drew the last card discards, the next player may if he chooses take the discard. Play continues until a player melds his entire hand or until a discard is refused.

If the last player to draw picks a red three from a one-card stock, or two red threes from a two-card stock, he faces each red three on the table and scores it; but the deal is then ended and he may not make any further melds or a discard.

**Scoring a Deal.** The base score of a side for a deal is determined by totaling all applicable items previously mentioned. That is, the point score of a side is the total point values of all cards melded, less the point values of the cards left in both hands.

**End of Game.** A game consists of four complete deals. The side with the higher score wins the difference between the two scores from its opponents. There is no going out every deal is played until the stock is exhausted.

**Additional Rules**

The following are additional rules that come into play during a game of Combo-Canasta:

**New Deal.**There must be a new deal by the same dealer (a) if he departs in any respect from the laws of correct procedure in dealing, (b) if he exposes a card other than the correct upcard, (c) if it is discovered during the deal that the cut was omitted. There must be a new deal if it is discovered, before every player has completed his first turn, that (a) any hand was dealt an incorrect number of cards, (b) a card is faced in the stock, (c) the deck contains a foreign card (a card from another deck). (If the error is discovered too late for a new deal: A short hand continues short; an exposed card is turned face down and shuffled into the stock a foreign card is discarded from the deck and, if it was in a hand, the player draws a replacement.)**Drawing Too Many.**If a player draws too many cards from the stock and if they are not placed in his hand, he must show the excess cards to all players and replace them on the stock. The next player to draw from the stock may, if he wishes, shuffle it before drawing. If excess cards drawn are placed in the hand, the player must forgo drawing in enough successive turns to reduce his hand to the correct number, discarding one card in each turn. Until his hand is correct, he may not meld.**Exposed Card.**If a player exposes a card from his hand, except as a meld or discard, such card becomes a penalty card and must be left face up on the table. A penalty card counts as part of the hand, and may be duly melded. If not melded, it must be discarded at the first opportunity. With two or more penalty cards, the owner may choose which to discard.**Insufficient Count.**If a player puts down an insufficient count for an initial meld, he may correct the error by melding additional cards and may then rearrange the cards melded. If he chooses (01 is compelled) to retract all the cards, then the minimum count requirements for his side (for that hand only) is increased by 10 points.**Illegal Meld.**Cards melded illegally or excess wild cards in a meld must be retracted. The side is penalized 100 points for the offense. The same penalty applies if a player, having put down insufficient count for an initial meld, makes it sufficient with additional cards but retracts one or more of those already exposed.**Failure to Declare a Red Three.**If at the end of playa hand is found to contain an undeclared red three, the side is penalized 500 points.**Condonment.**If a player makes an illegal meld and the error is not called until the next player has drawn or has indicated his intention to take the pack, the two previous rule do not apply. An initial meld of insufficient count stands as sufficient an incorrect combination is retracted without penalty. However, excess wild cards in a meld remain and are debited against the side. (The debit is 50 points each if there is question as to which was the fifth wild card added.)**Taking Pack Illegally.**A player attempting to take the discard pile without having established his right to do so should be stopped at once. There is no penalty if he can then show a valid claim. But if he has taken the pile into his poker hand before doing so, the opponents may face his whole hand and reconstruct the pile from it. The offender then picks up his cards, draws from the stock, and his side is penalized 100 points.**Information.**A player may (a) examine the discard pile before he has made his first discard, ( b) call attention to the correct minimum count requirement if his partner is in the act ‘of making an initial meld, (c) remind his partner to declare red threes or draw replacements, (d) turn the sixth card of a meld crosswise to indicate that one more card is needed to complete a canasta. In his own turn to play, a player is entitled to be informed of (a) the minimum count requirements or score of either side, (b) the number of cards held by any player, (c) the number of cards remaining in the stock.

**Two-Hand Combo-Canasta**

Follow the rules of the four-handed partnership game, with the following exceptions:

1. Use only two 52-card decks, plus four jokers.

2. Score 1,000 points (instead of 2,000 points) for all four red threes.

3. In the Additional Rules, the penalties for exposed cards and insufficient count do not apply.

**Three-Hand Combo-Canasta**

Follow the rules of the four-handed partnership game, with the following exceptions:

1. There are three players, each scoring for himself. During the play sides form of two against one.

2. The first player to take the discard pile or to complete any canasta becomes the lone hand. The other two join in partnership against the lone hand, combining their melds and otherwise aiding each other as much as possible.

3. The initial meld requirement for a player depends on his own score. Hence it, may happen that one partner has a higher requirement than the other.

4. A red three counts only for the owner, plus or minus according to whether or not his side has melded the necessary canasta of sevens, Bolivia or Escalera. The base scores of the partners, therefore, differ if they have not drawn an equal number of red threes. All other scores made by the partnership are totaled, and each partner receives credit for the total, plus or minus his own red threes.

5. A game consists of three complete deals.

**Five-Hand Combo-Canasta**

Follow the rules of the four-handed partnership game, with the following exceptions:

1. One side has three players who take turns sitting out a deal while the other two play against the opponents. A regular four-handed game is played. The player sitting out may not give advice of any kind to his teammates, and may not call attention to any poker irregularities, except in scoring after the play is completed.

**Six-Hand Combo-Canasta**

Follow the rules of the four-handed partnership game, with the following exceptions:

1. There are two partnerships of three players each, seated A B A B A B (each player seated between two opponents).

2. Each player is dealt 13 cards