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Brazilian Canasta

Canasta is a card game of the Rummy family which first originated in Uruguay in the 1940s and spread rapidly across Latin America, developing into a number of variations according to region including Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico and Brazil. The Brazilian version is most closely related to Samba in the Rummy Family in that Brazilian Canasta allows for the melding of sequences as well as groups.

As it is explained here, Brazilian Canasta is a card game for four people in two fixed partnerships.

The Cards:

Brazilian Canasta is played with three standard decks of playing cards, which includes all six jokers, giving you a total of 162 cards.

Within play, all cards from 4 to Ace make up natural cards. The 2s and Jokers are wild - i.e. assuming the identity assigned to them by the player. Additionally, the 3s have special uses as explained below.


The objective of the game is to score points by making melds either as "groups" - i.e. three or more cards of the same rank; or as "sequences" - i.e. three or more cards of the same suit in numerical order.

In Brazilian Canasta melds may contain as many as wild cards as you like. In fact, you can even meld three or more wild cards as a set of their own. There are no restrictions as there is in Samba. A "canasta" of seven wild cards is called a "Bolivia" and earns a 2500-point bonus.


Three or more cards of the same rank.

Three or more cards of the same suit in sequential order. For this purpose, 4 is low and Ace is high.

A "Samba" is a sequence of seven cards. Once a normal "sequence" has been laid out, either partner may extend on it by adding more cards. Once there are seven cards in the sequence it becomes a "Samba" and receives a bonus of 1500 points. However, if your team ends up with a sequence of less than 5 cards at the end of the hand, you are penalized 1000 points for it.

To meld a group, you need three or more cards of the same rank. Once laid out, either partner may extend on it by adding more cards. Once there are seven cards in the group, it becomes a "Canasta".

Canastas are of two kinds - "Natural" meaning the Canasta has no wild cards; and "Mixed" which means it contains one or two wild cards.

A Canasta of seven wild cards is a "Bolivia", and earns a bonus of 2000 points.

Red 3s:
A Red 3 may be melded as a single card and is worth 100 bonus points. One to four Red 3s are worth 100 points each for a total of 400 bonus points. If a team has five Red 3s, then they are worth 1000 bonus points, and if you have all six Red 3s, that 1200 bonus points.

However, points for Red 3s are only positive if your side has melded at least one one Canasta, otherwise these same points count as negative against you if you have not melded at least one Canasta.

Black 3s:
Black 3s can be melded in groups, but only on the turn on which you go out. Each Black 3 is worth 5 points. They can also be used to block the discard pile for the opponents when discarded.

Note that any Black 3s held in hand at the end of the hand count as -100 points each against you.

The Deal:

Deal and play are clockwise, and the deal proceeds to the left at the end of each hand which is determined as by when one side "goes out".

Each player is dealt 15 cards, one at time, and the rest of deck is placed face down in the center of the table to form the stock. The top card is turned face up and placed beside the deck to create the discard pile. And play begins.

The Play:

Left of the Dealer plays first, and play continues around the table in a clockwise direction.

A player's turn consists of:

  1. Draw two cards from the stock
  2. Meld if they can and so desire. You can make as many melds as you like. You are not restricted to making just one.
  3. Discard one card to the discard pile. (a discard is not required when going out)

The following rules apply:

  • When the top card of the discard pile is a wild card (i.e. Joker or 2) or a Black 3 it may not be taken.
  • Your initial meld must meld the minimum requirements.
  • To "go out" your team must have a Samba and a second major combination - either another Samba, a Canasta or a Bolivia.
  • If you're caught with any Black 3s in your hand when someone goes out, they each count as - 100 points against you.

Drawing from the Discard Pile

A player, instead of drawing two cards from the Stock, may draw from the discard pile when:

a) if the player has two natural cards in their hand that match in rank the top face up card of the discard pile.

The procedure goes:

  1. Take the top card from the discard pile
  2. Meld this together with the two cards from the player’s hand
  3. If this is the partnership’s initial meld, the player may meld further cards to make their minimum requirement.
  4. Then, take the whole of the rest of the discard pile
  5. The player may then make further melds if they so wish
  6. Finally, discard one card to end the turn.

Note: Therefore, you can never take the pile and add the top card to a group laid out on the table, unless of course, you have two natural cards in your hand that match.

b) If the partnership has already melded a sequence of less than seven cards, and the top card of the discard pile fits either end of the sequence, you may take this one card only from the discard pile and add it to your sequence without drawing two from the stock. In this case, you only get the one card, you don’t take the whole discard pile.

Note: Therefore, you cannot take the discard pile or its top card to make a new sequence meld. The card can only be added to an existing sequence meld.

Blocking the Discard Pile:

Naturally, then, if the top card of the discard pile is a 3, red or black, a 2 or a Joker, it is impossible to take the pile. Therefore, discarding a 3, 2 or Joker effectively blocks the next player from taking the pile.

It should be noted, that this is not the same as “freezing the discard pile” as you do in Canasta. It merely blocks the next player from taking the pile.

The Intitial Meld:

Depending on a partnership's score, their initial meld in each hand is subject to the following minimum requirements:


Minimum Initial Meld

0 - 1495

50 points

1500 - 2995

90 points

3000 - 6995

120 points

7000 - 7995

Any Cansasta

8000 - 8995

A Canasta and a total meld worth at least 200 pts

9000 +

A Natural Canasta


15 points

Going Out - Concealed and Unconcealed:

A team "Goes Out" when one member tables all cards. In order to "go out" your team must have the minimum requirement of a Samba and a second major combination (as noted above). Before going out, a player must ask their partner if they can go out. If your partner says "No", you may not go out. You must therefore retain at least one card in your hand after you meld and discard, even if this means retrieving cards you just tabled.

Going out "concealed" means that you meld all your cards in one go in your initial meld. Going out concealed earns you 200 bonus points.

Depleting the Stock

It may happen, that the stock is exhausted before any player has gone out. In such a case, where there is only one more card to draw, not two, then that player whose turn it is simply draws the last single card, melding and discarding to complete their turn.

When the stock is gone, players continue taking their turns discarding or melding, and even taking the discard pile if they want to. At the point where one player wishes to draw from the now exhausted stock, play ends and the hand is scored.

No one gets the bonus for Going Out!


Once a player has gone out, each side tallies up the value of their melds, plus the total value of the individual cards that comprise those melds, and MINUS the value of cards left in hand. Note that if a team has any sequences of less than 5 cards, this will count as -1000 points against them; any Black 3s held in hand count as -100 each against you; and the values of Red 3s count as minus against you if your team has not melded at least one Canasta.



20 Points

K > 8

10 Points

7 > 4

5 Points

Black 3

5 Points


20 Points


50 Points


Each Red 3

100 Pts

5 x Red 3s

1000 Pts

All Six Red 3s

1200 Pts

Each Samba

1500 Pts

Each Bolivia

2000 Pts

Each Natural Canasta

500 Pts

Each Mixed Canasta

300 Pts

Going Out Unconcealed

100 Pts

Going Out Concealed

200 Pts


Brazilian Canasta is played over several hands to a grand total of 10,00 points. If both teams are over 10,000 at the end of the hand, the team with the higher score wins the game.


Brazilian Canasta Rules - Rummy-Games.com
Bolivia Card Game Rules - Our Pastimes Card Games
Canasta - Card Games Heaven

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