Our Rules for Hand and Foot

Updated July 5th, 2005

Players, Cards:

May be played with two and as many as six, but with four or six, you would play partners, (two and two or three and three). As a general rule you need one more deck of cards than the number of players.(six players, seven decks of cards).

With Four players you need five decks of ordinary playing cards. Include 2 jokers per deck for a total of 270 cards in all.

The Deal:

Choose partners and decide which partnership will deal the hand and which the foot. One partner deals four piles of thirteen cards each, face-down.  These are passed individually to each player in clockwise rotation for the hand.  The other partner does exactly the same for the foot. The rest of the cards are placed face down in the center of the table, to become the “stock-pile”, with the top card turned face up to start a “discard” pile.

 Optional:  If this turned up card is a  joker or a two, wild card, it may be buried in the stock-pile and another turned up in it’s stead.

Each player, (without looking at it), then places his foot face down around the stock-pile. Each player then picks up the hand and play begins with the player to the left of the dealer of  the hand.

Card Count Values:

Minimum Card Count for Starting a Meld:

This is the minimum card count for the "starting" melds in each round. There may be more than one "starting" meld of differnet ranks to meet the requirement for that round. All "starting" melds must have at least three cards each.

There are four rounds to a game.

Wild Cards ,Red Threes and Black Threes:

The Jokers and the twos, are wild cards and may be used to make up mixed melds or wild card melds.  A wild card may be discarded (very rare), and only possibly if a player has too many of them and does not wish to split a regular pair when down to the last few cards. The next player may pick it up along with another six cards if they have a matching pair, jokers for joker and twos for a two.

The red threes have no card count value, but they do score 100 points for the players if they have laid them on the table or against if they are in the “foot”, that has not been picked up or played when the opposition “goes out”. When a player (in their turn), finds a red three in their hand, possibly from picking up the foot, (or by drawing one), they should immediately, place it face up on the table with the "completed" melds and draw another card from the stock-pile to replace it, prior to making a regular draw.

Black threes have a card count of five against a player if in the hand or foot at the end of a round, but have no other use than to freeze the discard pile and which is the only way they can be played out.

The Melds:

All melds belong to the partnership and not to an individual player.

The melds must comprise of sets only, with a minimum of three cards of the same rank for a "starting" meld with, (e.g.), fours thru' Aces, (threes have other uses), or two cards of the same rank and one wild card. They may also consist entirely of wild cards. In fact, a partnership must have a "completed" wild card meld to "go out". More than one meld of different ranks may be "started" to meet the requirement for that round.

All "completed" melds must consist of only seven cards each.  There may be more than one meld of the same rank, provided that you have "completed" the first one. There may be mixed, clear and wild card melds. The mixed melds must have only one wild card to two regulars for a maximum of two. The clear melds must have no wild cards. The wild melds must contain only wild cards.

A black card is usually turned up on a "completed" meld to signify a mixed meld, a red card turned up is a clear meld and a joker turned up indicates a wild meld.

Red threes and black threes may not be used in melds. As noted in the foregoing and in the table below, the red threes score 100 points for or against the players.

The black threes have a card count value of five against (never for), and are primarily used to freeze the discard pile.

The Play:

Firstly, if a player, in their turn has any red threes in their hand, or draws one, they may lay them down on the table face up and pick cards off the stock-pile to replace them.

Players must be aware that if this is the first melding for the partnership, they must lay down enough card count in "starting" meld(s), to meet the requirement for that round before being able to lay off cards or to consider picking up the discards, (see melds above). Red threes that are on the table do not count toward this as they have no card count value.

The player (s), again, in their turn, may pick up two cards from the stock-pile and (if a meld has been established), play off cards on the partnership melds or start new ones prior to discarding to end their turn

As an alternative, a player may wish to pick up seven discards, (maximum) , or less if seven are not available, from the discard pile and may do so (if a meld has been established) and they have a pair of the same rank as the top card. (These three cards, the pair and the top card only, must be played onto the table to make or add to a meld, immediately). The other six cards from the discard pile may be held in the hand, or played off as you wish after.

Or:  The "starting" count is 90 for the round and the partnership has not melded as yet. The preceding player has discarded a ten and you have three tens and a joker, wild card. You may use the tens to pick up seven discards and make a mixed meld of four tens and the joker, wild card, for a card count of exactly 90. This is then, the "starting" meld for the partnership. You would not be able to do this with a two rather than the joker, as you would not have enough card count.

Further, if a partnership has five cards toward a "completed" meld on the table of the same rank as the top discard, a player must have enough of the same rank cards in their hand (along with the top discard only), to finish off that meld to seven cards and be able to start another meld of three cards of this same rank. This would require that you have four usable cards in your hand.

Example:  The partnership has five eights on the table and there is an eight as the top discard and possibly an eight buried three or so deep. The player must have four eights, (or three eights and a wild card), in their hand to be able to pick up the pile, (maximum of seven cards). The top discard only and two cards from the hand to be used to "complete" the meld and the other three, (or two and the wild card), from the hand used to start a new meld of the same rank. The buried eight may not be used in this instance, but may be laid off after.

Ordinarily one partner holds the “completed”, melds and the red threes, while the other one holds the melds in the process of being made up.

Picking up the Foot:

When a player is able to play off all the cards in their hand, they then may pick up their foot and continue playing. If a discard had to be made the player must wait until the next turn to play out of the foot. This player should then play accordingly, to allow the partner to get into their foot as well. (See notes under strategies).

The Object:

To get the most points and card count in the four rounds by melding sets and/or laying off all the cards in the hand and the foot and "going out" to end each round. Note: The partner of the player going out must have picked up their foot and played at least one turn from it.

If one partnership “goes out” before the opposing partnership gets into their foot,  then all the card count in that foot,  including the points for any red three(s), will count against the latter. It is very possible that both could be waiting to pick up their foot at this time.

Points and Going Out

One partner may "go out", (by playing off all their hand and foot cards) and with the consent of the other partner, providing the latter has played at least one turn out of the foot.  The partnership must also have "completed", at least, two mixed melds, two clear melds and one wild meld, prior to this. I reiterate, these melds must consist of only seven cards each. They then must subtract any card count left in the other partner's hand at this time from the plus count that is down on the table. For "going out", they may score 100 bonus points.

In the rare situation where the stockpile is down to one card only, (more decks of cards should be used to ward off this problem), the next player may draw the card and discard to allow play to continue. If when picking up the single card, the player is able to make up a meld with it, they must have a discard plus at least one card in hand, unless the total criteria for going out has been met. The play would continue in this manner until such time that no one wants or needs the discard to better their hand. At this point the game ends and the players must count and play off their cards accordingly.

Only the “completed” melds of only seven cards each, may score points for all players, whether "going out" or not. The mixed melds 300 points, the clear melds 500 points and the wild melds 1500 points. As well, the red threes score 100 points each for the players, if they are down on the table (against if not). After all the meld points are noted and scored, the card count from all the cards on the table, whether in completed melds or being made up (with the exception of the red threes), will be scored in favor of the players as well. Any count of the cards that any players have in their hand or foot  at the end of the round of course, must be subtracted from the plus card count on the table (or from the point score if the partnership does not have enough card count on the table at this time to cover it).

Strategies

From experience, you will learn the best way to play your cards. All players do not use the same strategies either. Playing partners is somewhat different from playing singles in that you need to have some idea what the partner is trying to do. When one partner manages to pick up their foot, it is logical, (usually), for that person to hold back from "completing" the melds, lest they be the ones that would have allowed the other partner to lay off on and thus lessen their chances of getting into their foot.

There are a couple of exceptions to this:

  1. The partner is having tough luck at drawing the right cards for laying off their hand and getting into their foot, and the opposition is down to a very few cards, (near to “going out”).  It would then be deemed wise to make up all the melds possible to secure some good “bonus points” in case they did "go out".
  2. The other exception would be the wild card meld, which, because it’s high point score, and card count, should be "completed" as soon as possible, regardless.

Players should try to keep some pairs in their hand, of the cards that the opposition would be likely to discard and thus be able to perhaps pick up from the discard pile seven cards only. Obviously it would not be very practical to keep pairs of anything that the opposition has down on the table, in the process of building melds, as it is only slightly probable that they would discard one of these, or if you have five cards to a meld down on the table, it would not be desirous to hold back a pair of these, as it would require that you have four cards rather than the pair in that instance note above. Picking from the discard pile is especially ideal, while waiting for the partner to pick up their foot. The opposition will try to keep you from doing this by “freezing” the pile with a black three whenever possible . 

Try not to “burn” too many wild cards, (making up mixed melds), any more than are required, unless you have the wild meld well in hand, or perhaps need to mix a meld, “burn”, to get into the foot and, in fact, it is a good idea to hold back a wild card for just that purpose, with the hope of picking a few more up in your foot.

Try for higher card value melds if possible, such as; Aces have a card value of twenty, and a seven has a card value of  only five. This will show up in the card count after the round is over.

Wild cards are really the key to making melds and “going out” and at times they can be very elusive, or at other times you may even have a couple too many and no pairs to lay them down with. Happy hand & foot