Italian Canasta Rules

Italian Canasta is a variation of Samba (which is itself derived from Canasta), and differs from Samba in the following ways:

  • Italian Canasta has a unique way of beginning a game. After the cards have been dealt, but before the upcard is turned, all players replace their red threes. Then the top card of the stock is turned face-up, and the number of cards indicated by its value (counting Jack as 11, Queen as 12, and King as 13) are removed from the top of the stock and left face-down in a pile. The initial upcard is then placed face-up on top of these to form the initial discard pile.

  • The discard pile is always "frozen", and can only be taken by a player having a natural pair matching the upcard.

  • You may meld deuces as a rank of their own, or use them as wildcards. However, if you make a meld of all twos, you cannot use any other twos as wildcards until the canasta of twos is completed.

  • Game is 12000 points.

  • Initial melds must be naturals (no wildcards).

  • The initial meld by a side must meet the following minimum counts, depending on the side's total score at the beginning of the hand:

    Total ScoreMinimum Count
    0 to 149550
    1500 to 299590
    3000 to 4995120
    5000 to 7495160
    7500 to 9995180
    10000 and up200

  • The bonus for going out is 300 points.

  • Two canastas are required to go out, but a wildcard canasta does not count for this purpose.

  • Red threes count 100 points each for one to three, 200 points each for four or more.

  • Italian Canasta provides opportunity for the following scoring bonuses (in addition to the standard Canasta bonuses):

    A Canasta of Seven Twos3000*
    A Mixed Canasta of Deuces2000*
    Five Pure Canastas2000
    Four Pure Canastas Plus One Mixed Canasta1000
    Ten Canastas of Any Kind2000
    * Note: The first two bonuses only apply to the side that goes out; for the other side, they score only the point value of the cards.

Italian Canasta Links

Additional Information