Canasta Glossary

Nobody can know everything. We collected recurring, important terms concerning Canasta in this glossary for you. Stay on top of the numerous synonyms and specific terms of Canasta.

3 Decks: With this custom rule an additional deck is used.

3 Jokers per Deck: With this custom rule there is one more Joker per deck.

Alliance: In a game of four, Canasta is played with alliances or teams. Two players form one team. The teams remain throughout the table over all the played rounds. In our Canasta Palace your ally is placed in the top center of your screen and marked blue. Players of an alliance or team share their melds and scores.

Black Threes: Black threes can be used as block cards. Placed on the discard pile they prevent the next player to draw from or pick up the discard pile. Black threes can only be played in melds when going out.

Bonus Cards: These are cards with no function beyond dealing bonus points. In Canasta red threes are bonus cards. Whenever a player receives a red three it is automatically revealed on the playing field. The player receives a supplement card. Red threes score 100 points. These cannot be included in the first meld. If one party gains all red threes, they receive 400 additional points. If a team hasn’t played any melds by the end of the round, all points for red threes turn into negative points.

Canasta: It’s the name of the game and one of its key elements at the same time. A natural canasta consists of at least seven cards of same rank. If wild cards are used it is a mixed canasta.

Custom Rules: At the tables in the Canasta Palace you can use custom rules to tweak the game the way you like it best. Enabling „3 Decks“ and „Sequences“ lets you play the popular variation Samba Canasta.

Discard Pile: The cards discarded at the end of each player’s turn are collected here.

Blocking: When a black three or a wild card are on top of the discard pile it is frozen. Players can neither draw from the pile nor pick it up.

Freezing: The discard pile is frozen when it contains a wild card. It can only be thawed by melding the top card with two natural hand cards.

Draw 2: With this custom rule two instead of three cards are drawn from the stock.

Finisher: The player who wants to go out.

First meld: Each party’s first meld of a round must reach a minimum score.

Game of Nothing: When enabling this custom rule, the table is not ranked for the league. If a table is limited to one round, this is the default setting.

Going out: Ending a round of Canasta is called going out. To do so, a player must ask their ally for permission and, if granted, play all their hand cards and optionally discard one.

Going out concealed: When a player goes out within one turn and their team didn’t play any melds yet, they are going out.

Hand Cards: Those are all cards in a player’s hand. They are distinguished from cards in the playing field – in melds, in the discard pile, and in the stock.

Harder First Meld: With this custom rule the minimum scores for the first meld of a round are raised from 15, 50, 90, 120 to 25, 90, 120, 150.

Melds: Sets of natural and wild cards that are combined according to the rules can be played, melded, in the playing field. Each party’s initial meld of a round is called first meld.

Mixed Canasta: A mixed canasta, also black or dirty canasta, consists of at least seven cards. Natural cards of same rank can be combined with wild cards. Wild cards cannot outnumber the natural cards.

Natural Canasta: A natural canasta, also red or clean canasta, consists of at least seven natural cards of same rank.

Natural Cards: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and the pip cards 10 to 4 are the natural cards in Canasta. They are used for melds and have no further function.

Party: A game of Canasta has two opposing parties. A party can be either one player or one team of two players.

Permission: In a game of four a player must ask their ally for permission to go out.

Red Threes: In Canasta, red threes are bonus cards. Whenever a player receives a red three it is automatically revealed on the playing field. The player receives a supplement card. Red threes score 100 points. These cannot be included in the first meld. If one party gains all red threes, they receive 400 additional points for that round. If a team hasn’t played any melds by the end of the round, all points for red threes turn into negative points.

Round: At a table of Canasta, several rounds can be played. Each round’s scores are collected to determine the total score of a table.

Samba: This is a popular variety of Canasta. It requires three decks and allows melding sequences (e.g. 4-5-6-7-8-9) as well as sets of cards. At the Canasta Palace, you can modify your game to Samba Canasta using custom rules.

Set: Several cards of same rank, optionally substituted with wild cards, form a set. Sets of at least three cards can be played as melds.

Sequence: This custom rule allows melding sequences additionally to sets. These melds are limited to seven cards of the same suit, no wild cards. The cards must be consistent and in order. The lowest possible card in a sequence is 4. There can be several sequences of the same suit.

Stock: This is the stack of cards containing all cards that weren’t dealt at the beginning of the round. Players can draw one card from the stock at the beginning of their turn.

Strict Discard Pile: Enabling this custom rule permanently freezes the discard pile. Cards from the discard pile cannot be used to add to a canasta.

Strict Wild Cards: This custom rule limits the maximum number of wild cards to two. Wild cards cannot be added to a canasta. After the first meld at least five natural cards need to be used before adding wild cards.

Surprise: Three additional cards are placed under the stock at the beginning of the round. These are unknown to everyone and a little surprise for the first person to pick up the discard pile.

Table: At the Canasta Palace, you can play Canasta at different tables. Tables can be limited to certain amounts of rounds. Different custom rules can be activated for the tables. When entering the Palace, just chose a table that looks good to you.

Team: See Alliance.

Tough End: Going out requires either two Canastas ore one natural Canasta. If the custom rule „Wild Canasta“ is activated as well, only the party going out receives a bonus for their wild Canasta.

Turn: The turns in Canasta go clockwise. Each player must start their turn by picking up one card from the stock or, if possible, one or more cards from the discard pile. Afterwards they can make several moves, for example, meld cards, add to existing melds or even go out. A turn, except when going out, must be ended by discarding a card from the hand to the discard pile.

Undo: Sometimes actions need to be undone. Should you play some cards but realize along the way that your melds would not meet the requirements for the first meld, you can use the undo button to pick all cards back up and try a different approach.

Wild Cards: Jokers and twos act as wild cards in Canasta. They can substitute other cards in melds if they don’t outnumber the natural cards.

Wild Canasta: Enabling this custom rule allows each team to play one meld consisting of wild cards only. It has a maximum of seven cards. If Jokers outnumber the twos, the score increases. Incomplete wild Canastas score negative points.