- Players: 2 to 6. Decks of cards - two, with 52 cards (in the family games, at home, two Jokers are included).
- Dealer: the player who draws the highest initial card gets to be the dealer.
- Dealing: the cards are dealt, after being cut by the player sitting to the right of the dealer, one by one, two by two or in groups of threes (not advisable), clockwise, turned down, eleven cards for each participant.
- Goal: make 1,500 points before other players.
Agreements, Prizes and Scoring
- Same Number Cards:
Melds of three to eight cards. The minimum number of cards is three, but a higher number of cards may be laid or others may be added as the game goes on.
Three or more consecutive cards of the same suit. E.g.: 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Clubs, 10, Jack and Queen of Hearts (The ace is after the King or before the two).
- Wild Cards: Besides the Joker, in general used only in family games, the twos are also used as wild cards, substituting any other card. Example: Queen - Two - Ace of diamonds, Seven - seven - Two.
- Relancinho: It is the combination of eleven cards, obtained in the same hand, which are laid down at once. When a player announces a "relancinho", the points of the game are immediately scored.
- Going out: When there are no cards left in a player's hands, and all the eleven (or more if other cards are drawn before going out) cards are used, forming melds. These melds may be laid on the table separately, as arranged by the player.
- Scoring: "relancinho" = 100 points; going out = 50 points; Joker = 10 points; Two = 10 points each ; from 8 to King - each card = 10 points ; from 3 to 7 - each card = 5 points Aces = 15 points each.
The melding of seven or more cards, of the same number or in sequence, are called canasta, and receive special awards. The canasta without a Joker is called Royal or Legitimate canasta and is worth 200 points; the canasta with one Joker is called a false canasta and is worth 100 points.
- Vulnerability: In the beginning of the game, any player, at his/her turn to play, may lay down the cards that are already melded. When the player, or the pair reaches 750 points (half of the points of the game), it becomes vulnerable, and each member of the pair may only lay down cards after their points total more than 75 points. If the player melds out with less than 75 points, being vulnerable, the cards must be withdrawn, and the player or pair may only lay down again after melding 90 points.
- Game: The hand buys a card from the stock (pile at the center of the table, with the cards left after dealing), checks what melds may be combined with this card and discards one he does not want. This card starts the so-called trash or waste pile (the discard pile). The hand has the right to draw a second card, if the first one does not please him/her. This exception only applies to the hand in the first set.
After the discard, that will never be bought or substituted, the second player to the left of the first one plays, and so on, until one of the players ends the game. From the second player on, there is the option of drawing a card from the stock or draw all of the cards of the discard pile. The player with one card may not draw the discard pile with only one card.
- Scoring: The cards remaining in hand are scored as negative points. The points of the melded cards laid on the table and the prizes are counted, taking off the points lost for the cards remaining in hand, and the difference is scored.