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How to Learn Canasta Online for Free

American canasta can be played with 2-6 players.
Pack of playing cards. Gambling. Game image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

Canasta is a popular, although somewhat complex, card game involving cooperation with other players and using strategy moves at every turn. One of the variations of canasta is American canasta usually played with two to six players. When there are even numbers of players, you can play the game in pairs of two. The game of canasta requires two decks of cards and the jokers are used so you will need a total of 108 cards. You can learn this card game online for free with the following instructions.

Deal seven cards face down in two piles. One pile consists of three cards and the other pile consists of four cards. Deal out 13 cards to every player. If one player has 3's dealt to him, he sets the 3's down and makes a pile which will be now used for the rest of the game to collect the 3's. The object of the game is to be the first person with 8,500 points or the player with the greatest amount of points. You want to lose the cards in your hand.

Form sets of at least three cards during the game. A Canasta consists of seven cards. Excluding 2's and 3's and jokers, all the other cards are known as natural cards. All the rest are wild cards which are used to replace natural cards in canastas. A true or pure canasta is made up of only natural cards. A mixed canasta could have both wild and natural cards. A wild canasta has only jokers and 2's.

Draw a card and discard a card every time it is your turn. You can take a card from the discard collection of cards or from the stock pile. If you decide to select a card from the discard pile then you have to pick up all the cards that are in that pile.

The other possible move during your turn is to meld a canasta. A meld consists of at least three cards of the same value and may be added to make a canasta later of seven cards of the same value to accumulate bonus points. Get rid of all your cards and the game will be over or it is over when the stock pile of cards is used up.

Calculate each player's score. The score will depend on how many canastas were formed during the game, the amount of 3's in a player's hand, how many cards remain in their hand, and the amount of unfinished canastas.

Things You'll Need:

  • 2 decks of playing cards
  • 2-6 players


For going out, give yourself 100 bonus points. If you go out without having melded, give yourself 200 points. A red trey, a red 3, is worth 100 points. If you have four red 3's, give yourself 800 points. If you have made a natural canasta, that is worth 500 points. A mixed canasta's value is 300 points. A complete set of canasta rules can be accessed in the Resource section below.

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