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Rules for Playing the Hand and Foot Card Game

Rules for Playing the Hand and Foot Card Game

Hand and Foot is a very popular card game in North America. So, if you like playing cards, and are looking forward to a fun-filled time with your family and friends, then you're definitely on the right page. We, through this Plentifun article, shall tell you how to play the hand and foot card game.
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Did You Know?
The Hand and Foot card game is a variation of Canasta, which means 'basket' in Spanish. It became popular in the United States in the 1950s.

Playing cards has always been a popular and one of the most loved ways of spending time with family and friends, while you have some fun planning strategies and moves. Card games are enjoyed by both, young as well as old people. They can be played anywhere and anytime, especially if you are feeling too lazy to go out and enjoy. Moreover, they can be played even when you are out on a vacation, picnic, and the like.
Once such game is the 'Hand and Foot' card game. It is simple and quite easy to understand as well. All you need is a group of 4 - 6 people, and 5 - 6 decks of cards. The main objective of this game is to get rid of all your cards, 'hand' first, and then 'foot'. Confused? Here are the rules and directions for playing this exciting game. Check 'em out!
How to Play the Hand and Foot Card Game

The main goal of this game is to not have any cards left at the end. All you will need is five decks of cards with the jokers, at least four people in teams of two each, and a paper and pencil to write down the scores.
Note: The number of decks must be one more than the number of players.
  • Shuffle the decks of cards thoroughly. Each player is dealt 11 cards. This first set of 11 cards each is called a 'Hand'. The 'Hand' can be picked up and examined by each player.
  • Each player is again dealt 11 cards more. This second set of dealt cards is called the 'Foot', and is supposed to be kept face-down.
  • Now, each player has one set that he has seen, and another set that is kept face-down.
  • The remainder of the cards are to be kept in the center after all players are dealt the required number of cards. This large deck is called the 'Kitty' or 'Stock'.
  • The topmost card of this deck is turned face-up as a discard pile. If it turns out to be a red Three, a Deuce, or a Joker, then this card goes back into the pile, and another card is drawn for the top.
Before moving on, let us first understand the value of each cards:
  • Jokers (Wild Cards) - 50 points
  • Deuces (Wild Cards) - 20 Points
  • Aces - 20 Points
  • Eights through Kings - 10 Points
  • Threes through Sevens - 5 Points

The objective here is to get rid of all the cards from your 'Hand', and then 'Foot' by melding them. Meld is a set of 3 - 7 cards of the same rank, that are placed face-up. It cannot have less than three cards or more than seven cards. It belongs to the team, and not any individual player. After a Meld of three or more cards starts, more cards can be added to it until there are seven cards in the pile. It then becomes a 'Closed Pile' or 'Book'. Deuces and Jokers can be used in melds along with at least four natural cards, but not the red and black Threes.

Types of Melds
  • 'Clean' or natural meld - Seven real cards of the same rank ('Red' Book).
  • 'Dirty' or wild meld - A minimum of four cards of the same rank, and at least one wild card. Example: 5 Nines and two Wild Cards ('Black' Book).
  • The melds should not consist of all Wild Cards. When a Book is complete, it is identified as Red (Clean) or Black (Dirty). The Black must have a Wild Card turned to show that it is a Dirty Meld.
  • Red Book - All natural cards, no Wild cards (500 Points).
  • Black Books - At least 4 natural cards and Wild Cards (300 Points).

Each player picks up their 'hand', and play begins with the player on the left side of the dealer. The player is supposed to draw two cards from the Stock on each turn, and then discard one card on each turn. If a red Three is drawn, it is put down immediately and replaced with a new card from the deck.

The player also has the option of 'picking up the pile', which means that, he can take the top seven cards from the discard pile. However, ensure that the top of the discard pile is not a black Three. The player must hold two cards of the same rank as the top card. These three cards (the two he is holding and the top discard) must be immediately laid out, possibly along with the other cards he is holding. Also keep in mind that, the player's team must have melded till then, or he is melding while picking up the pile.

Only the top card of the discard pile can be used towards the points needed for melding: the 6 other cards cannot be used towards points needed for the meld.

To meld, all the cards that are played must equal the number of points that are required for that round. Wild cards have bonus points.

If the player chooses to pick up the pile, he must make a meld of the top card of the pile. As you go on making melds, the number of cards in 'Hand' keep reducing, and you then eventually go on the 'Foot'. You need to announce that you are playing your 'Foot', and then continue playing. If you happen to lay out all other cards except one, then you can discard it. This marks the end of your turn.

When the 'Book' of seven is completed, the player has to place them in a single stack, with the topmost card being a Red for 'Clean' and Black for 'Dirty'.

To 'Go Out', the player must get a Clean and Dirty, and get completely rid of the cards. He must discard the final card, and not 'simply run out of cards'.

When a player goes out, it marks the end of the round. The players are then supposed to calculate their scores, recording the 'meld count' first. The players then calculate their second point count, which is calculated from each card's value that is played. If any card is left in the player's hand, it will count against the score for that round.

The person or team with the highest score wins.

Bonus Points
  • While shuffling and dealing cards, if a player picks an exact 22 cards from the pile, he gets 100 bonus points.
  • The first person to 'Go Out' gets 100 bonus points.

Easy, wasn't it? Now that you know the rules, grab those five decks of cards and start playing Hand and Foot. Hope you have a great time playing this game.