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Hand and Foot, the mega-card card game

Updated on July 9, 2016
The card holder my wife and mother-in-law use for Hand and Foot
The card holder my wife and mother-in-law use for Hand and Foot | Source

We were introduced to the game by our relatives in Reno. We noticed a huge deck of cards on their kitchen counter and asked what game they played with all of those cards. Turns out they play Hand and Foot almost everyday. They taught us and we brought the game to our Arizona home. It became a regular afternoon game break for us. We passed it on to relatives and friends who likewise became addicted to the game. Turns out that the game is played all over; we found an active Hand and Foot group at our recreation center. It seems that every group plays it just a little bit differently!

There are cards everywhere. You start off with a fistful, and draw more. Over time all those cards end up in front of you taking over the tabletop.


Hand and Foot is a great card game, a variation on Canasta. The object is to build a seven card set of any one suit (7 Kings, or 7 fives or 7 Jacks, etc.), which is called a Book. A natural set has no wild cards and is called a Red Book. You can use wild cards to make a Black Book. Get the required number of Red and Black Books, and get rid of all your cards fist and you win that hand.

Four hands make a game. The person (team) with the most points at the end is the winner. A score sheet tracks the scoring, and acts as reminder of the game structure.



This is a game for two or a group

We play the game with two, three, four or six people. Two players is a heads up game. Three players is a cutthroat game. Four or six are a team game.

We play the game often with other couples. My wife and I play it often as a mid afternoon break from the computer or quilting. We alternate Hand and Foot with Spite and Malice, which is a two-handed solitaire game. Can you use two-handed and solitaire in the same sentence?

The following description is for a two handed game of Hand and Foot plus rule variations for four or six players.


Lots of decks, lots of cards

Number of players
Number of decks
Type of play
Two players
Four decks
Heads up
Three players
Four decks
Cutthroat
Four players
Four or six decks
Two teams
Six players
Six decks
Three teams
Piatnik 00 2895 Card Holder Black
Piatnik 00 2895 Card Holder Black

If you play a card game like Hand and Foot, you'll appreciate a card holder like the one we use.

 
Trademark Poker Casino 6-Deck Automatic Card Shuffler
Trademark Poker Casino 6-Deck Automatic Card Shuffler

This is the card shuffler we use for Hand and Foot.

 

Deal variation

For team games take 26 cards, 13 for the hand and 13 for the foot.

The Deal

Use four Decks of cards. Each player gets 30 cards. Rather than deal all these cards out one at a time, each player picks a stack of cards from the pile, If you pick the exact amount of 30 cards, you get 100 points. Put 15 aside for your foot and start play with 15 in your hand.


Pick up variation

A variation in pick up rules for two handed is to pickup eight cards, when you can play the top card properly. This allows for serious hand and board building, but also can lead to runaway scores.

A variation to team games is to increase the number of cards picked up as you move through the four hands of play, e.g. two cards in first hand, three cards in second hand, four cards in third hand, five cards in fourth hand.

The Pickup and the Discard piles

Each player draws two cards and discards one card.

You may pick up the top two cards from the discard pile only if you have two of the same card in your hand as the top card on the pile. You must then lay down the two cards from your hand and the top card from the discard pile.The second card can be played on the board, put into your hand or discarded.

If a red three, black three, deuce or joker is on top of the discard pile, you may not pick from the discard pile.


Wild Cards

Jokers and two's are wild. A wild card can be combined with a pair to make a set that can be laid down.

The number of actual cards you use must be one more than the number of wild cards. Example: you cannot lay down two wild cards and one Jack; it must be two Jacks and one wild card.


Lay down rule variation

Sometimes with beginners, we simplify the lay down and allow a player to get their board started with any set of three of a kind. No point minimum.

Getting started laying down card sets

To begin laying down card sets, you must meet a minimum count:

  • 50 points for the first hand.
  • 90 points for the second hand.
  • 120 points for the third hand.
  • 150 points for the fourth and final hand.

Examples:

  • First hand - three Aces (60), or three Jacks (30) plus two fives and a deuce (30)
  • Second hand - two Aces and a Joker (90), or two Aces and a deuce (60) plus three Queens (30)



Making books

As the play continues, you can add like cards to a set that is laid down. You can also add wild cards. There mist always be at least one more natural card than there are wild cards.

A set of seven like cards (e.g. seven jacks) is a red book. A red book is complete. You cannot add to a red book.

A set of seven cards that includes any wild cards is a black book. You can continue to add natural like cards to a black book to increase your point count.


Red book - 7 cards of same number - no wild cards (500 points)

Black book - 7 cards of same number – must contain at least one wild card (300 points)

Some people call a red book, a clean book. That makes a black book a dirty book. Go figure!


Point value of cards

Card
Point Value
Ace
20
Two
20
Joker
50
Nine through four
5
Black three
5
Red three
-500

Red 3s, be careful

  • Red 3's caught in your hand or foot are 500 points against you.
  • You cannot use red 3's in books.



Black 3s are special

You can lay down black threes (must have at least 3) only if you are going into your foot (playing or discarding your last card), or if you are going out. After a set of black threes are lain down to go into your foot, you can add black threes as you play your foot.

Wild cards cannot be played with black threes.

Seven black threes count as a 500 point book.


Going into your Foot

The first goal with your hand is to get down with the required point count of sets.

The second goal is to get rid of all the cards in your hand. You can play the last card on the board or discard it. If you play your last card, you can pick up your Foot and begin playing it. If you discard your last card, you must wait a round to play your Foot.

Going into your foot quickly is important! If the other player, or team, goes out before you get in your foot, the point count in your foot is subtracted from your score.



Going out

  • You need at least 2 red and 2 black books to go out and have no cards left in your hand or foot.
  • You can play or discard your last card.
  • You can play a set of black threes to go out.

Winning

The winner is determined at the end of the fourth hand.

The player, or team, with the highest point total is the winner!


Variations in team play

The number of cards drawn from the unused pile and from the discard pile can increase from hand one to hand four.

The number of books required to go out can increase from hand one to hand four.


Four players, 2 teams

With four players, you can divide up into two teams: women vs. men, couple vs. couple, republicans vs. democrats, you name it.

  • Each player gets 26 cards – put 13 aside for your foot and start play with 13 in your hand.
  • The first goal is to get any member of a team down with qualifying set (s).
  • You can't pick up the pile until your team is down.
  • Once down, the team can play on the team's sets.
  • You can play on each others cards after one of the team has gone down.
  • A team member can go out if:
  1. The team has the required number of books. (e.g. 2 red and 2 black books).
  2. Have no cards left in hand or foot.
  3. All partners agree to going out. A partner may have just picked up a foot with a couple of red threes!
  4. All partners are in their foot.




Six players, two teams

With six players, you divide up into two teams of three each.

  • Each player gets 26 cards – put 13 aside for your foot and start play with 13 in your hand.
  • The first goal is to get any member of a team down with qualifying set (s).
  • You can't pick up the pile until your team is down.
  • Once down, the team can play on the team's sets.
  • You can play on each others cards after one of the team has gone down.
  • A team member can go out if:
  1. The team has the required number of books. (e.g. 2 red and 2 black books).
  2. Have no cards left in hand or foot.
  3. All partners agree to going out. A partner may have just picked up a foot with a couple of red threes!
  4. All partners are in their foot.


If you enjoy Hand and Foot or found this article useful, please rate it up, share it, and leave a comment... thank you.
If you enjoy Hand and Foot or found this article useful, please rate it up, share it, and leave a comment... thank you.

Is this your hand and foot?

Probably not. It seems there are as many variations to the game as players. Different point counts? Different number of books needed? Different rules for going down? out? winning?

There are lots of variations, but most players agree that it is a lot of fun. It's also a lot of cards!!


This is the shuffler we use for Hand and Foot.
This is the shuffler we use for Hand and Foot. | Source

Have you played Hand and Foot? What variations do you play?

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    • profile image

      Rick 

      6 years ago

      EXample: making your two card draw and draw a red 3, draw second card and it is a red 3, draw cards to replace the red threes and one of them is a red 3, do the red 3's drawn cancel each other out or do you draw thee cards to replace the red ones?

    • jstankevicz profile imageAUTHOR

      jstankevicz 

      6 years ago from Cave Creek

      Hi Nancy, let's schedule a re-match in Reno ... thanks for sharing the California sunshine ... j

    • profile image

      Your partner, Nancy 

      6 years ago

      Mr. J..........I suggest we get together again very soon so we can even the score. Did not like the outcome of the games already played so me must try again..as you know we are suburb players

    • profile image

      Paulette 

      6 years ago

      I lay down 3 cards, Aces for example, to make 50 points. My opponent, next player, discards an Ace. If my partner has a pair of Aces in her hand, can she pick up the Ace from the discard pile and add the 3 cards to my 3 Aces? (assume other rules concerning picking up the discard pile will be followed). If my partner has not had a chance to add her 2 Aces to my meld of 50 points if looks like she should be able to pick up the discarded Ace on top with the allowable # of cards in the discard pile. My friends disagreed with me. In playing Canasta, if the discard pile is "frozen" and you had Aces on the board, you could pick up the discarded Ace/discard pile if you had a pair of Aces in your hand.

    • profile image

      fabbros 

      7 years ago

      I use to play this game years ago, and forgot some of the rules. I played a different variation though, for a meld you could either start a meld of "like" cards, i.e. 4 6's etc. or you could start a run, i.e. 4,5,6,7. Red 3's counted against you, unless you could collect 3 or more. If you collect all eight red 3's you got bonus points. I would love to re-learn this variation. Is there anybody out there who has played this way and knows the rules?

      Thanks

    • Kevin Peter profile image

      Kevin Peter 

      7 years ago from Global Citizen

      Really superb and fantastic card game described by you MR Jstankevicz, I was bored by playing old games thanx for giving this much nice game to play with, do write this types of interesting hubs which can give all of us lots of entertainment

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I enjoy card games a bunch. This sounds like a great one, but am pretty sure I'll need a card holder to help me with all those cards. Guess I'll be referring back to your article on card holders, you sly hubber.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I used to play this game all the time! I think it was called something else though and sorry but I cannot remember the name of it. I really enjoyed playing it though.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I remember Canasta although it was when I was a kid I played thee games with my mother.Basic games will continue although sometime reincarnated in other forms.

    • profile image

      JayeWisdom 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the thorough instructions for playing Hand and Foot. I have some friends who play this game incessantly as a family and have asked me numerous times to learn it and play with them. Since I learn better from reading rather than listening to instructions, I haven't taken them up on the offer. Maybe I can do so now. I'm going to print this hub and study it....JAYE

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 

      7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      I love this game. I play it online version from tams.

      Keep on hubbing!

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