Invented in Montevideo, Uruguay, Canasta is one of the most popular card games in the United States. It combines luck of the draw, skill and diverse strategies. It is challenging and affords a great social experience as the game is typically played with four people. Playing the game usually requires 2-4 hours as each game has multiple hands or rounds. This affords the ability to be many, even thousands of points behind, but yet still recover to win the game. If one plays the game with multiple groups it becomes obvious that the rules are anything but consistent. It appears “table rules” are almost as numerous as the “basic” rules. In fact the line between the two is somewhat hazy. Further, no set of rules seem to address all of the situations that can arise in a given hand. It is our goal at the Society to offer the most comprehensive rules possible, including many of the known variations that are used by players. We look forward to hearing from you, the members, with input, ideas and suggestions for clarifications in future printing of the rules, and we are striving to make them as complete as possible to avoid conflict in what should be a fun and challenging game experience. That said, many games across the country play with variations too numerous to include. The Society rules are intended to give a uniform way of resolving potential disputes.
There are many variations and versions of canasta—ranging from classic Canasta to Modern Canasta and Basic Canasta. Variations include 2-6 player games. Our focus is what we will call Modern American Canasta which is a 4 player game and embodies the rules of “Modern” or “American” Canasta. Classic Canasta is a different game entirely and will not fall under the domain of the American Canasta Society.