How to play the hand and foot card game

I have loved playing the Hand and Foot card game ever since a member of my family taught it to me 15 years ago. Hand and Foot is similar to Canasta but with some differences in the rules and the game. A player receives two sets of cards: a ‘Hand’ and a ‘Pie’. The object of the game is to build combinations of cards to form ‘Books’, score as many points as possible, and play all the cards in your Hand and Foot sets as quickly as possible.

General description:

Hand and Foot can be played with 2-8 players (the game can be played in pairs, but I’ll focus on the single-player rules). You will need a full deck of cards, including jokers, per player (add an additional deck if there are 3 or fewer players). All decks of cards are shuffled into a single pile of cards. Each game includes 4 rounds of play. In each round, a player deals two sets of cards: 13 cards per game for 2-4 players and 11 per game for 5-8 players. They then pass a set to their left and the resulting two sets become their Hand and Foot. The cards not dealt are placed in a draw pile in the center of the table. The goal is to get rid of the cards from his Hand and then from his Foot, creating Melds and Books. Cards are initially played in a combination, which is a set of three or more cards of equal rank placed face up on the table. Once a Meld reaches seven cards, a Book is created. Points are earned from combinations and books played, and points are deducted when a player does not play all the cards in their hand and foot sets.

There are two types of Melds:

1. A Red Meld has no Wildcards and can become a Red Book.
2. A Black Meld has Wildcards and can be turned into a Black Book.

You can create combinations from any of the ranked cards: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4. Only one combination of each type of ranked card can be played in a round. In other words, you can’t have two separate Melds or 8 Books, for example. The 3 cannot be combined or formed into books, as they represent negative points. The 2s and wilds are wilds and can be used in Melds, as long as there is at least one ranked card more than wilds. You cannot combine jokers alone. A minimum Black Meld consists of two ranked cards and a joker. The combinations are placed face up for all to see, the complete Books are stacked, and the card placed on top shows the type: a red card for a Red Book, a black card for a Black Book. Letters of equal rank can be added to complete books; however, jokers cannot be played on the red books.


To start, each player takes his hand. During each turn, a player must pick up 2 cards from the Draw Pile and end his turn by discarding 1 card in a Discard Pile that will be located next to the Draw Pile. During a turn, a player can place Melds and / or Books if they meet our exceed the Minimum Round Points. Once all the cards in a player’s Hand are played or discarded, they can take their Foot and continue to form combinations. A player need not discard at the end of a turn if they have played all the cards in their Hand (at which point they ‘Run’ to their Foot) or if they play all the cards in their Foot and Come out. A player must have at least 1 card in his Hand at all times unless he is going to his Foot and he must have 1 card in his Foot at all times unless he is Leaving. A Round ends when a player “goes out”. To exit, you must:

1. You have reached your foot and played it completely, AND
2. Have at least one Red Book and one Black Book. You do not have to discard to exit.


You get points for the cards you have combined and for each Book. If you are not the leading player, you lose points for the cards remaining in your Hand and / or Foot at the end of the game. Each round ends when one player leaves. At the end of each round, each player’s points are added up and the total points from all previous rounds are added up to form the total points. The player with the highest score at the end of the 4 rounds wins the game. The best Hand and Foot players are those who can rack up big total points and quickly go out to catch the other players with cards in hand and thus leave them with negative points.

You receive two scores per round. One for the books and the other for the combined face value of all other combinations played at the table. Once your books have been counted, all the cards you played, including those in the books, are added to the point value of the card. For example, seven tens will count as the Red Book value of 500 points, as well as 10 points for each card for a total of 570 points. This also applies to non-winning players. If you didn’t come out and are caught with cards in your Hand and / or Foot, those points count against you. If you didn’t go out and you have books and / or melds on the table, those points add up for you.

Minimum round points:

To start placing cards in Melds, the total points of the cards played must exceed the minimum for the round:

-Round 1, the points of the cards must total at least 50 to play
-Round 2, the points of the cards must total at least 90 to play
-Round 3, the points of the cards must total at least 120 to play
-Round 4, the points of the cards must total at least 150 to play

Card Points:

-Jokers = 50 points (wild card)
-2s = 20 points (wild card)
-Aces = 15 points
-Ks, Qs, Js, 10s = 10 points each
-4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s = 5 points each
-Black 3s = -50 points
-Red 3s = -500 points


-Red Book = 500 points
-Black Book = 300 points
-The player who comes out in each round gets 100 bonus points

Discard pile collection rules:

During a turn, a player can pick up five cards from the discard pile instead of drawing two cards from the draw pile. To collect the discard pile, the following criteria must be met:

1. You must have two cards in your Hand / Foot that match the top card of the pile,

2. You must combine the top card in the discard pile,

3. Must have the required Minimum Round Points. The top discard can give you the Minimum Round Points, but the remaining 4 cannot be counted until the Minimum Round Points are reached.

If a player already has a combination or book of a particular classified card and that card is at the top of the discard pile, they can pick up five cards from the discard pile as long as they have a matching card in their current set with the superior. card from the pile and play the top card and the corresponding card in his Hand / Foot. The player’s turn ends in the same way as other turns, discarding or exiting. It cannot be removed from the discard pile unless there are a minimum of six cards in the pile.

Well, this seems like a lot to remember, but learning Hand and Foot is not difficult at all. I recommend that new players have a practice round, where they can quickly learn the rules and understand why the game is so popular.