BWC Canasta may be played by 2, 3 or 4 players. The game is played using two complete decks of BWC cards (128 cards). When two or three players, each player is playing against the other player(s). When there are four players, they may play as teams, with teammates sitting across from each other.
Object of the Game
The object of Canasta is to obtain the most points by melding, which is creating words out of one’s cards for score. Going out sooner than your opponent and discarding your last card is somewhat less important in BWC Canasta than in other Rummy games.
The dealer shuffles, cuts and deals the cards face down, clockwise beginning with the player to the dealer's left. When two players, each player gets 15 cards, when three players, each player gets 13 cards and when four players, each player gets 11 cards. The dealer then places the next card face up on the table, starting the discard pile. If the card turned up is a wild card, another card is drawn and placed on the discard pile. This is done until top of discard pile is a letter.Next to the discard pile, the rest of the deck is placed face down to form the draw pile. All subsequent discards are laid face up and squared on the discard pile.
The initial melding requirements when playing a hand are:
Current score is negative to 1499 points, you must meld 50.
Current score is 1500 to 2999 points, you must meld 90 or a word with five or more letters.
Current score is 3000 or more points, you must meld 120 or a word with six or more letters.
After the initial meld has been played there are no point requirements to play additional meld.
Player without meld must draw from the draw pile. Player may then meld and end their turn by discarding, or just end their turn by discarding. NOTE – Player without meld may draw top card from discard pile as long as they can use it and cards from their hand to create their necessary meld.
Player with meld may draw from the draw pile, or they may draw from the discard pile as long as they can use the top card plus two cards from their hand to create additional meld.
A player using the top card from the discard pile must pick up rest of discard pile which may then be used to create additional meld.
During a players turn they may:
> Modify current meld by adding letter(s), an example could be changing “the” to “them” or “theme”.
> Combine melds to make a canasta as long as words stay unchanged, an example could be combining
"bar" with “king” making “barking”, which would make a canasta.
> Change a mixed canasta to a natural canasta by switching letters either from their hand or from other
meld already played. Original canasta word must stay the same.
Players’ turn ends when they discard or go out. Note - A discard not required when going out.
The hand ends as soon as a player goes out. You can only go out if you have melded at least one Canasta.
If you are part of a team, you can only go out if your team has melded at least two Canastas. There are two types of Canastas. The Natural Canasta is any seven or more letter word made up of one color. The Mixed Canasta is any seven or more letter word made up of different color letters and/or containing wild cards(s).
You can go out by melding all your cards or by melding all your cards but one and discarding the last card on your turn. You can complete your Canasta and go out on the same turn.
If you do not have a Canasta, you cannot discard all your cards and be left with one as this could lead to a situation where you can go out illegally, having not formed a Canasta. Also it is not always advantageous to go out when you are able to, since a partners cards left in hand will count against that team, in this situation a side may score more by continuing play. Therefore in a partnership situation, you may ask the other partner "May I go out?". If the partner answers "no" then this is binding and you may not go out and if the partner answers "yes" then you may. However, it is important to note that consulting your partner is not compulsory and you may go out without asking your partner. In any event, a partnership must have two Canastas to go out.
The hand also ends if the draw pile runs out of cards. As soon as a player who is entitled to draw from draw pile chooses to do so and there are no cards left in draw pile then play ends at this point.
After the last card of draw pile is drawn, play continues provided that each player in turn can legally take and meld the card discarded by his opponent. In this situation where the draw pile is exhausted, it is compulsory to take the discard if it can be legally added to a meld. In this way, making a discard that must be taken up by an opponent is known as "forcing".
Play ends when a player in turn does not take this discard, either because he cannot legally meld it, or because he does not choose to do so.
Each player/team adds up the points in all their melds. From this they subtract the points for all the cards remaining in hand. And to this they add any applicable bonus points.
Bonus points are 500 for a natural Canasta, 300 for a mixed Canasta, 100 for going out and 100 for going out concealed. Going out concealed is when a player melds their entire hand in one turn where that hand contains at least one Canasta, without having made any earlier meld.
Added bonus – If your canasta is the word “CANASTA or CANASTAS” bonus points for that canasta are doubled.
The first team to score 5000 points wins the game. If both sides reach 5000 points in the same deal then the side with the higher total wins. In this case, the final deal is played out, even though it is known that one side will reach 5000 after play ends.