Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Canasta - a card game of life

I had this favorite game of cards come back into my life this last week.  I used to play it a lot as a kid and teenager.  Then boys, husbands, kids and Foxtel happened and the game was relegated to camping trips and blackouts.

It's a great game.  Strawb and I are the champions at it.

My son #2 has just taught his girlfriend to play it, and last week we introduced her to the giddy heights of a doubles game.

It got me thinking however, how this game resembles life at times.

Here is my version of life according to the rules of Canasta.

  1. Canasta may be played with 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 players but is best fun played with four persons as a partnership game.  
    • Yep, just like life.  2 players is the most stable game, 3 can be fun, 4 as partners comes with a lot more rules, and 5 & 6 players just gets messy.  
  2. Canasta is played with two decks of 54 cards or a total of 108 cards including 4 jokers
    • We all have to play life with the same deck of cards, but sometimes its fun to play with the jokers
  3. The dealer shuffles, cuts and deals the cards face down, clockwise beginning with the player to the dealer's left
    • Like life, we get dealt the cards in a set order.  We can't change the cards we get dealt - this isn't poker - and so we must be clever with what we have.
  4. Each player gets 11 cards in a game with 4 or more players, 15 for 2 players or 13 for 3.
    • The lesson here is that you get more with when you only play with 2 people, but a threesome could be a good compromise.
  5. The goal of Canasta is to obtain the most points by melding, or creating sets out of one’s cards. 
    • Isn't this what life is?  Gathering the most you can before you die!
  6. When it is your turn, you may draw the top card from the stock and put it into your hand without showing anyone.
    • Pays to keep some things to yourself - the element of surprise is always good.
  7. Also, remember that in Canasta, both jokers and deuces (twos) are wild cards. A set consisting entirely of wild cards is not valid.
    • Lesson here is not to play with just the wild boys.  They are OK for a bit of fun, but you can't settle down with them.
  8. The hand ends as soon as a player goes out. You can only go out if your side has melded at least one Canasta.
    • Going out is the whole purpose of the game.  Just ask any teenager!
  9. 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.
    • Enough said ;-)
  10. The game also ends if the stock pile runs out of cards.
    • Sad but true - when life has run out of cards for you, the game is over.
  11. You can freeze the pack to slow the game down
    • Cold shoulders, freezing out players - all has a similar effect.
  12. Good strategy involves knowing what to keep and what to discard.
    • So glad I found the good cards early on in the game, its a hard game knowing what to keep and what to discard.  Ask any dating agency.
  13. You score extra points if you can go out with a concealed canasta
    • Probably only score the points with fellow players, not your partner.
  14. A player who has accidentally drawn an extra card must discard it in a future turn without drawing a new one.
    • Especially if you are playing a partnership game.


  1. LOL, very true indeed. I always find that life can be related back to a Seinfeld episode too!

  2. really enjoyed your comparissons.