/ posts

Hand and Foot (Roth family rules)

Hand and Foot is a variation of Canasta that became popular in the United States in the 1950s. — Bicycle

This document:

  • Is based on the Roth family house rules for Hand and Foot.
  • Includes references and maps to traditional gameplay.
  • Is written as a glossary of terminology and practices.
  • Hoists figures (with scoring values) for easy access.


🃏 Card Values

202 “Deuces”Wild
1010, J, Q, K1
54, 5, 6, 7, 8, 91
0Black 3
-500Red 3

🆙 Achievement Values

500Red book
300Black book
100Draw exactly 22 cards2
100First to go out

🎟️ Point Minimums

At the start of each round, teams determine the minimum points required to go in.

ScorePoints required to go in

🥅 Goal

Gain the most points as a team by the end game condition: 10,000 points3.

🏗️ Build the Stock (Game Deck)

Each player brings one deck of cards to construct a card stock (game deck).
Ensure that all decks include both Jokers (54 cards).

🎰 The Deal (draw)

To start each round, players draw 22 cards. Drawing 22 cards in a single cut is worth a 100 points bonus.1

Cards are divided into two 11 card decks: “hand” and “foot”.

🏁 Begin the Game

Reveal the top card from the stock to start a discard pile. The first person (clockwise) of the dealer begins the first turn.

↪️ Turn

✋🦶Hand and Foot

The hand is a player’s initial hand of 11 cards — played immediately. The foot is a player’s 11 reserve cards — played once the hand is exhausted.

Play all 11 cards in your hand by creating melds with your team.

If you can finish your hand without discarding the final card of your hand, continue playing into your foot. Announce “I’m going into my foot” to the table.

🪣 Draw

Draw two cards from the stock pile.


Take the discards.

🗑️ Take Discards

If the top card of the discard pile is natural (4-A) and matches at least one card in your hand, you may draw from the discard pile.

  • Reveal your card that matches the top discard.
  • Take the top seven cards.
  • You must be able to make a new, clean meld with that top card.
  • If unable to make a clean book, you receive a penalty.

Current house penalty:

  • Your turn is skipped (including discard).
  • Return all drawn cards to the discard pile (in the same order).
  • Take a 100 point penalty.

💿 Meld

Three or more cards of the same value (suit does not matter).
Melds may include wilds cards, to form Black books.
Melds must always contain more natural cards than wilds.

📚 Books

Books are melds of 7 (or more) cards.

  • Red books include 7 or more natural cards.
  • Black books include exactly 7 natural and wild cards, with no more than 3 wilds.

📕 Red Book

AKA: “Clean book” or “Open book”.

  • 7 or more natural cards.
  • ”Open” to melding.
  • Set aside with a red card on top.

📓 Black Book

AKA: “Dirty book” or “Closed book”.

  • Exactly 7 natural and wild cards.
  • At most 3 wild cards.
  • ”Closed” to melding.
  • Set aside with a black card on top.

👉 Go In

A player “goes in” when they can create new melds or contribute to existing ones. The total point value of contributed cards must be above the team’s points minimum.

👈 Go Out

A player “goes out” when they discard the final card of their foot — ending the round.

A player may not go out until:

Before going out, a player may ask: “Can I go out?” Teammates are allowed to respond only with “yes” or “no” — avoiding table talk.

🗣️ Table talk

Table talk is “illegal.”

Every house has a different understanding of what constitutes table talk.

I find that strategic players enjoy playing strategic (educational) games. In these cases, general strategy is not considered table talk. Because strategic games aren’t won on general strategy.

Here are a few invariable things considered table talk:

  • Correcting (or “helping”) a teammate place their move.
    • This includes asking suggestive questions like “Did you want me to place this on the dirty meld or create a new clean meld?”
  • Asking teammates to decide between two options.
  • Talking about a move in a way that reveals the composition of your hand: “I really want to pick that discard up…”
  • Inquiries about the makeup of the discard pile.

🗺️ General Strategy

Here are some baseline strategies for being a good teammate:

  • It’s generally advantageous to open options for teammates.
  • Creating Red Books doesn’t cost your team because they can continue to play melds on them.
  • Creating Black Books should be reserved for:
  • Avoid discarding cards that your opponent can play — especially when you know there are duplicates in the top 7. See Take Discards.
  • When deciding whether to contribute to a dirty meld or create a new, clean meld, consider the following:
    • Is it early or late in the game?
    • How near to completion is the dirty meld?
    • What is the composition of the dirty meld? Can it be completed with wilds?
    • Does the opponent also have melds for this card — making it unlikely to be closed?
  • Taking the discards is best employed when creating new melds for card values you don’t already have.


  1. Notes: Traditionally, 5 and 10 point values are 4-7 and 8-K, respectively. 2 3

  2. Both Canasta/Hand and Foot have a traditional “deal.” This better distributes the cards and “de-clumps” them from previous melds and books.

  3. Canasta is traditionally played to 5000 points. And Hand and Foot is traditionally in 4 rounds, with no point-based end condition. 2