This is one of the most well-known games in the rummy line up. Canasta was invented in Uruguay in the 1930’s and by the 50’s it was one of the most popular games in America. Canasta has many incarnations and some of them do not even resemble what you may have come to think of as Canasta. The game can be played by individuals or teams. Even though there are many games with unique features, the basics for Canasta never changes.
The goal is to be the first player with 8500. This is the target score but if more people have 8500 or more the highest number wins. The game can be played by up to 6 players and like all rummy games the play is in a series of rounds.
The players draw and discard like in most rummy games; you can draw from both the discard and the stock pile. The card that the player draws from the discard pile has to be used right away in a meld; if it is not used then all of the discarded cards goes to that player. The second basic move is to discard only those cards you cannot use.
The word canasta means basket in Spanish and this is probably in reference to the tray that holds the cards when you are playing the game. In the 1040’s this game actually vied for top family game against he powerhouse, Monopoly. The inventors of canasta made this game because they felt the other rummy games relied too much on chance. Segundo Santos and Alberto Serrato combined what they felt were the best elements of bridge and the ancient game of conquian; that is how canasta was born.
You can find books that have been devoted to the art of playing canasta. In some areas the tournament rivalries have gone on for years. Online canasta is a fun, fast paced game that you will love.