Hand and Foot Card Game

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Hand and Foot card game

Hand and Foot is a melding type of card game, similar to Rummy, Gin Rummy, Canasta, and many others. In the Hand and Foot game, partners sit across from each other, and a total of five decks of cards are used, with two jokers per deck, making it a grand total of 270 cards in play.

Basic Hand and Foot rules

The cards are shuffled and one partner takes a portion of the deck, creating four separate face-down stacks, each containing 13 cards. These stacks are then passed around the table in a clockwise direction, ensuring that every player receives one stack – this is the “hand.”

Meanwhile, the partner of the hand dealer takes another portion of the deck, deals four additional stacks of 13 cards each, and passes them likewise in a clockwise direction to ensure that each player has a second set of stacks known as the “foot.”

The remaining undealt cards are placed face down in the middle of the table, forming a stock. The top card of this stock is turned face-up and positioned next to it, initiating the discard pile. If the revealed card is a red three or a wild card, such as a two or joker, it is placed back in the stock, and a new card is turned up.

How to Play Hand and Foot Card Game

Now that the game is set up and the cards are dealt, it’s time to play Hand and Foot.

Draw 2 cards from the stock. Start the game by drawing two cards from the central stock and assess your hand for sets of at least three cards. The player to the left of the dealer takes the first turn, either drawing two cards from the central stock and adding them to their hand while checking for meld opportunities or opting to draw five cards from the discard pile.

Meld. A meld involves placing at least three cards of the same rank in the center of the table or adding cards from your hand to existing melds of the same rank. Melding follows specific rules and procedures. A player can either create new melds or extend their existing melds but not both in a single turn. When extending existing melds, it’s possible to contribute cards to multiple melds. In team play, teammates can only add new cards to their partner’s or their own melds.

Play with your foot pile. When your hand is depleted, seamlessly transition to your face-down foot pile to continue playing. After discarding or melding the last card in your hand, pick up your foot pile and carry on with the game. If you exhaust your hand mid-turn, simply proceed with your foot pile. However, if you deplete your hand by discarding, your turn concludes immediately, and you’ll utilize your foot pile on your following turns.

Discard 1 card. Discard a card and proceed until a player empties their hand. After adding cards to melds, place one card from your hand onto the face-up discard pile. The player to your left then takes their turn, forming melds or playing cards. Continue clockwise around the table until a player discards or melds their final card. In team play, the game goes on until the second partner has played at least one card from their foot pile.

Score. Calculate the score, reshuffle, and deal the cards, repeating for three additional rounds. After a player goes out, total the points. The player with the highest score after round 4 is the winner.


Each of the four rounds requires the player or team to achieve a minimum point threshold with their initial meld: 50 points in the first round, 90 points in the second, 120 points in the third, and 150 points in the fourth. Once this initial meld is achieved, subsequent melds are not bound by any specific point requirements. Card values are as follows:

  • 4-7: 5 points
  • 8-Kings: 10 points
  • Aces & 2: 20 points
  • Jokers: 50 points
  • 3s cannot be melded.
  • Jokers and 2s may be played in place of any other card.

In Hand and Foot, a meld of seven cards is referred to as a “book.” Once a player or team forms a seven-card meld, it is set aside and considered a completed “book.” No additional cards can be added to completed books. “Clean” books, which are created without wild cards, are worth 500 points at the round’s end, while “dirty” books, made with wild cards, are worth 300 points.

When you create a book, stack the cards and set them aside, placing a red card on top for clean books or a black card for dirty books to distinguish them later. Since dirty melds are more versatile, it’s often wise to save these for later in the game.


After a player empties their foot pile with a meld or discard, the round concludes, and scoring begins. Each team accumulates points for their books: 500 points for each clean book and 300 points for each dirty book, constituting the base score. Additionally, the player or team that “goes out” earns an extra 300 points.

Points are also awarded for each card melded, even if they’re part of a book. Tally the values of your melded cards on the table, and add them to your base score. Note that 3s now deduct points. This score should be recorded and continually updated after each of the four rounds.

  • 4-7: 5 points
  • 8-Kings: 10 points
  • Aces & 2 (wild): 20 points
  • Jokers (wild): 50 points
  • Red 3s: -100 points
  • Black 3s: -5 points

Penalties are incurred for cards left in your hand and foot piles at the end of the round. Calculate the total value of the remaining cards and subtract that amount from your overall score. To maximize your points, prioritize placing as many cards on the table as you can to avoid accumulating penalties by the round’s end.

Are you interested in other classic card games? Check out our helpful guides on Conquian and Bridge.

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