Hand and Foot Card Game Rules and Gameplay

What is the Hand and Foot Card Game?

Hand and Foot is a fun card game typically played in a rummy style. The game is closely related to the Canasta and Pennies From Heaven games and also seems to be a mix of Jack Change It and Solitaire. The hand and foot game involves the melding of cards but has no standard rules; therefore, there are several variations in rules that can accommodate many players.

The most common version of this game is played in partnership between four players but can also be played by six players in two teams or more players. If you have never played this game before, and it sounds like an exciting game, you might as well include the game in your next game night must-plays. Don’t know how to play hand and foot? Fret Not! Take a quick peek into the gameplay and simple rules and pretend you always knew how to play this fun card game.

Also Read: Best 3-Player Card Games to Play

How do you play the Hand and Foot Card Game?


The object of the game is to get rid of all cards in hand. The players are dealt two sets of cards; the first set played is called the Hand, and the set played next is called Foot.


The game is played using five to six decks of cards, including Jokers. The cards are shuffled, and one person takes the deck. The dealer deals 11 cards, face down, to each player, clockwise, until each player has a hand. The players can pick the hand and examine the cards. After that, each player is dealt the second set of 11 cards, face down, called the foot. Cards in the foot are played when all the cards in hand have been played.

After all the cards are dealt, the players have two sets of cards, one set that they have seen – the hand, and the other set that is placed face-down – the foot.

The remaining cards are placed at the center of the table in a stockpile. The top card of the stockpile is flipped face-up to form the discard pile. The card that forms a discard pile can be any card other than a Joker, a Three, and a Deuce. If any of these three cards are at the top of the stockpile, they are placed back into the pile, and another card is drawn to form the discard pile.


A game includes four rounds with a minimum meld requirement increasing after every round. Before your team is in the game, you should put down the cards with individual face values whose sum is at least the minimum requirement. You can also put down more than one meld to achieve the minimum requirement.

  • In Round 1, the play begins when the card points total at least 50
  • In Round 2, the play begins when the card points total at least 90
  • In Round 3, the play begins when the card points total at least 120
  • In Round 4, the play begins when the card points total at least 150

The Gameplay


The turn begins with a draw, and each player can draw from the discard pile if the topmost card is used to create a meld. If the player successfully melds the top card of the discard pile, they draw the top seven cards in the discard pile. If the player fails, they must draw two cards from the stockpile.


The players attempt to meld cards and get rid of the cards first from the Hand and then the Foot. To meld the cards, you can form a set of 3-7 cards of the same rank and place them face-up. The meld must not have less than three or over seven cards. Moreover, a meld doesn’t belong to an individual but collectively belongs to a team. When the players form a meld of up to seven cards, it becomes a Book or a Closed Pile. You can also use Jokers and Deuces to form melds along with four natural cards, excluding the red and black 3s.

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Types of Melds:

Natural or Clean Meld: A meld of seven cards of the same rank (red book) is called a clean or natural meld.

Dirty or Wild Meld: A meld containing a minimum of four same-rank cards and at least one wild card is called a dirty meld or a wild meld—for instance, five 9s and two wild cards (black book).

Red Book: All the natural cards are red books that don’t include wild cards.

Black Book: At least four natural cards and wild cards are called black books.


The turn ends with a discard by a player. The discard pile is blocked if a player discards a black 3, and no player can draw from the blocked pile.

Going Out

Any player can end the round by getting rid of all cards and after the team has made a clean meld, a dirty meld, and picked the foot stack. The player can ask the partner for permission to go out. Depending on what is in their hand, the partner can decide whether to let the player go out or continue the round.

End Game

The game ends in two circumstances – when a player successfully goes out or when the stockpile is over, and the players don’t wish to draw cards from the discard pile. If a player doesn’t permit their team partner to go out, the player must-have two cards left after melding – one to continue playing with and one to discard.

In the end, players evaluate their scores of books and melds, including any bonuses. The team with the highest points after four deals is declared the winner.


The round ends after a player goes out, and the score is then evaluated. The card values in the game of hand and foot are as follows:

  • Wild card books made from jokers and 2s carry 1500 points
  • Red books carry 500 points
  • Black books carry 300 points
  • Jokers (wild cards) are worth 50 points
  • Aces are worth 20 points
  • Deuces (wild cards) are worth 20 points
  • Eights through Kings carry 10 points
  • Fours through Sevens carry 5 points
  • Black Threes carry 5 points
  • Red Threes carry 100 points
  • Going out is worth 100 points

The points from the team’s remaining cards in hand are deducted from the points of the cards played by the team to arrive at the score.

Hand and Foot Card Game Rules

  • A team must not have two incomplete melds of the same rank.
  • A meld should have more natural cards than wildcards at any time.
  • A wildcard cannot be moved once melded.
  • A meld should have a minimum of three and not more than seven cards.
  • Black 3s are used to block the discard pile; therefore, they cannot be melded.
  • If the opponent team ends the round before your team picks the foot stack and your foot includes a red three, your team will lose 100 points.
  • If the first card turned face up in the draw pile is a wild card or red 3, that card is placed back into the pile, and the next card is flipped.

Also Read: How to Play War Card Game


Is hand and foot the same as Canasta?

Hand and foot is a card game variation of Canasta that got popular in the United States in the 1950s. The game is a simpler version of Canasta which is excellent for beginners.

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