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To help you out, we have outlined the basic rules and how to play in this article. The word canasta is Spanish for basket and was created by a lawyer named Segunto Santos in Uruguay in Santos had a liking of the game bridge, but upon realising he had become addicted, switched to another card game, Rummy. After a while, Santos came to the realisation that Rummy was a game based too much on luck, so with the help of his friend, Alberto Serrato, the pair devised a new game and named it Canasta.
The game is played using two decks, including Jokers, which play a special part in the game. The aim of Canasta is simple: A meld is formed by combining at least three cards of the same type, for example three Jacks or five eights.
Importantly, twos deuces and jokers can be used to form an initial meld or to increase its size. A canasta is a meld which contains seven or more cards of the same type, and can also include deuces and jokers.
In a game of two, players are dealt 15 cards each. For three players, they each receive 13, while four or more players see each person dealt 11 cards. The game starts by each person drawing a card, with the highest denomination being the first to play. After the cards are dealt, one card is left face-up in the centre of the table, known as the discard pile, while the remaining cards are left face down in a stack known as the deck.
The player must choose between drawing two cards from the top of the deck, or picking up the entire discard pile when it is their turn and adding it to their hand.
However, players can only pick up the discard pile when the top card will assist in forming a meld. For example, if the top card is a five and you have two fives in your hand, you can pick up the discard pile to form a meld of fives, with the remaining cards added to your hand. Alternatively, if the top card was a nine and you had one nine and a deuce or a Joker, you could also pick up the discard pile and form a meld of three nines.
The third and final way you are permitted to pick up the discard pile is if the top card can be used in addition to an existing meld or canasta on the table.
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