Crazy Canasta Rules and Scoring

Guide to the rules and scoring of the 4-handed "Crazy Canasta" card game, a canasta variation.


Crazy Canasta is an exciting Canasta variation that seems to have originated in the Southern USA, probably Texas, but possibly Arkansas or Arizona. After spreading to Florida, where many people commune during winter, Crazy Canasta made its way across the United States throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Cards & Scoring

For a typical Crazy Canasta game with 4-players, seven decks of 52-cards each (plus 2-jokers) is standard. Cards have the following point values:

Jokers ..........   50 points each
Ace, 2 ..........   20 points each
Red-3 ...........  100 points each
Black-3 ......... -100 points each
4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ...    5 points each
9, 10, J, Q, K ..   10 points each
Crazy Canasta Cards

Wild cards are 2s and Jokers.

Clean Canastas are seven of a kind (such as seven Jacks). Scoring is as follows:

Any combination of 2s and Jokers .. 2000 points for each canasta
Aces, 4s, 5s, 6s, 8s ..............  500 points for each canasta
9s, 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings .....  500 points for each canasta
7s ................................ 2000 points for each canasta

Note: 3s (black or red) cannot be used to form clean canastas.

Dirty Canastas are six of a kind and a wild (such as six Jacks and a Joker). Wilds (2s and Jokers), 3s and 7s cannot be used to form dirty canastas. Scoring is as follows:

Aces, 4s, 5s, 6s, 8s ..............  300 points for each dirty canasta
9s, 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings .....  300 points for each dirty canasta

Note: 3s (black or red) cannot be used to form dirty canastas.

Book, at least one of which is needed to "go out", is worth 5000-points (individually, the cards would sum to only 4800-points). A book is a combination of:

  1. A Clean Canasta.
  2. A Dirty Canasta.
  3. Seven 7s.
  4. Seven Wilds (i.e., any combination of seven 2s and/or Jokers).

When a hand is over, points are summed as follows:

  1. Each Book (7-Wilds, 7-7s, a Clean Canasta and a Dirty Canasta) is 5000 points.
  2. Each Canasta of 7s that is not part of a Book is 2000 points.
  3. Each Canasta of Wild cards (2s and/or Jokers) that is not part of Book is 2000 points.
  4. Each Clean Canasta that is not part of a Book is 500 points.
  5. Each Dirty Canasta that is not part of a Book is 300 points.
  6. Each Red-3 is 100 points.
  7. Going out first is 100 points.
  8. The sum of all individual card points (as described above), including cards that are part of Books, Canastas and Dirty Canastas, is added to the subtotal.
  9. The sum of all individual card points (as described above) for unplayed cards (i.e., those left in your partnership's hands) is subtracted from the subtotal.


One game of Crazy Canasta has four deals. To deal:

  1. Shuffle the cards. Commonly, all players mix the cards on the table, face down.
  2. Each player is given (or draws) two stacks of 13-cards.
  3. Remaining cards are stacked and placed face-down in the middle of the table. This stack is called the stock. Only an inch or two of cards is needed. The rest can be set aside. When replenishing the stack, always place new cards at the bottom.
  4. The top card of the stack is turned over and placed next to the stack. It is the beginning of the discard pile. If this card is a 2, red-3, 7 or joker then place it randomly into the stock and draws the next card until it is not one of these special cards.
  5. Determine who is to play first. From this point on, the person to that player's left (and so on) will start the next hand.
  6. Each player exchanges their two stacks -- one stack with the player to the left and the other stack with the player to the right.
  7. Each player picks-up one of their two stacks.


In turn, a player will:

  1. Lay down (i.e., set aside for counting after the play) all red-3 cards and collect an equal number of cards from the stock. Each red-3 drawn from stock is to be set aside for counting after play and another card drawn to replace it.
  2. Draw the first 2-cards from stock, or pick-up the discard pile. To pick-up the discard pile:
    • The top card of the discard pile must not be a black-3, a 7 or a wild (i.e., 2 or joker). These cards are known as stoppers.
    • The top card of the discard pile must be used with two other cards from the player's hand to meld.
    • The three cards must be of the same rank (to pick-up the discard pile, a wild card cannot be used to start a meld of 3-cards).
    • After using the top card of the discard pile to meld, the player must then assimilate into the hand whatever remains of the discard pile. Those cards can be used in the same play as it continues...
  3. Meld, if possible. See details below.
  4. Discard a card from the hand (face-up) to the discard pile, possibly going-out (see below).
    • When going-out (i.e., if the discarded card is the only one left in a hand), the discarded card cannot be anything that could otherwise be played.
    • When not going-out, the discarded card can be a 7 only if the opponent has already formed a canasta of 7s.
    • If opponent has not yet formed a canasta of 7s, a 7 cannot be discarded unless player goes-out.


The objective of Crazy Canasta is to score points by melding cards. To meld, a player lays down 3- to 7-cards of the same rank with no more than one wild card substitution. Melds belong to a partnership. Once cards have been laid, the partnership can add to them until they form a canasta of seven cards. Any number of cards can be laid to create new melds (of up to 3- to 7-cards) or to add to existing melds.

Melds can be made with wilds (i.e., any combination of 2s and jokers), 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, jacks, queens and kings. A meld of 7s cannot include any wild cards. When seven cards have been played, a canasta has been formed and it should be set aside for counting at the end of play.

A player cannot lay-down any cards (except red-3s) until their partnership's meld reaches or exceeds a threshold which depends upon the deal.

Deal  Minimum Count to Meld
====  =====================
 01         50-points
 02         90-points
 03        120-points
 04        150-points
Red-3s are not counted as meld. Only card points are tallied (i.e., extra points for canastas, books, etc. are not included in this count).

Once a player has melded or added at least one card to the partnership's meld, that player can pick-up the second stack (see Deal above).

A partnership may not have multiple melds in process (i.e., in the process of forming 7-card canastas) for the same rank. This implies, for example, that you cannot pick-up the discard pile if the top card matches one of your melds that already has 5- or 6-cards in it.

Going Out

To end play (i.e., to go out), a player must:

  1. Complete all requirements for his/her play. Specifically, player must draw two cards from the discard pile (or pick-up the discard pile, etc.), meld and discard.
  2. A player's discard cannot be a card that could otherwise be played.

Play ends automatically when there are no more cards in stock.

After play ends, each team must count their cards (see above for points; see below for an online calculator) and record their scores. There are two possibilities for what happens next:

  1. Fewer than 4-hands have been played, so the process starts over with a new deal.
  2. Four hands have been played, so the game is over. The winning team is the one with the most points.

Crazy Canasta Calculator

A free, web-based Crazy Canasta Calculator™ is available to help you count your cards at the end of each play. You can also use it to verify that you understand how to score a Crazy Canasta card game.

Canasta Links

Rules of Card Games - Canasta... Introduction to Canasta, Terminology, Classic Canasta, Modern Amaerican Canasta, Canasta for two, three and six players, Variations, Software, Games and Books.

Links to Other Cansta Related Sites... Interesting links to Canasta and Canasta-related web sites.

A Small Canasta Strategy Guide... Useful strategies for playing canasta.

Copyright © 2003-2007 by Dave McCulloch