How to Play Hand and Foot Card Game - Plus Tips

How to Play Hand and Foot Card Game - Plus Tips

Hand and Foot is a popular card game, often played with partners and resembling Canasta in its rules and play style. This game is ideal for gatherings, requiring both strategic play and a bit of luck to win. Gather your cards and let’s learn how to deal out some fun!

What You Need

  • Players: Typically 4 in partnerships of two; however, can be played with 2 to 6 players.
  • Deck: Two standard 52-card decks with jokers for each player (e.g., 4 players use 8 decks).
  • Goal: Be the first team to reach 10,000 points by creating books of cards.


  1. Shuffle the Decks: With multiple decks in use, ensure a thorough shuffle.
  2. Deal the Cards:
    • Each player receives two sets of cards: one 'Hand' (15 cards) and one 'Foot' (13 cards). The Hand is dealt first and used to begin play. The Foot is set aside, face down, until the Hand is used up.
  3. Create the Draw Pile: Place the remaining cards in the center as a draw pile.
  4. Start the Discard Pile: Turn the top card of the draw pile to start the discard pile.

Gameplay Instructions

Playing the Game

  • Starting: Players start the game by drawing cards from the pile to form their initial melds or plays from the Hand.
  • Melding: Create melds consisting of three or more cards of the same rank. There are two types of melds: red (clean) without wild cards and black (dirty) with wild cards.
  • The Foot: Once all cards in your Hand are used, you can pick up your Foot and continue making melds.
  • Discarding: End each turn by discarding one card onto the discard pile.

Special Rules

  • Red Threes: If you draw or are dealt a red three, it must be played immediately and replaced with a new card.
  • Wild Cards: Twos and jokers are wild. They can be used in black melds but must not outnumber the natural cards.

Ending the Round

  • A round ends when one player depletes their Foot and has no more cards to draw or play. Remaining players then tally their scores based on the books and cards collected.

Winning the Game

  • Points are scored for cards in books, while points are lost for unmelded cards left in hand.
  • The game continues over several rounds until a team surpasses 10,000 points.

Tips for a Fun Game

  • Strategic Discards: Avoid discarding cards that could help your opponents.
  • Communication: Partners can't share specific card details but strategize generally to maximize play.
  • Adapt Rules: Feel free to adapt the rules slightly to suit your group’s preferences, especially around forming and playing books.


The Hand and Foot card game offers hours of entertainment and strategic depth, making it perfect for game nights with friends or family. With its engaging blend of strategy and luck, it’s sure to hook players from the first deal to the last card played.

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