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Hand & Foot

There’s an old game sweeping the that may be popular again. It’s a new way of getting the family or friends together for a pleasant evening. The game is similar to Canasta and has so many variations that it is best to ‘plan ahead’ which way it will be played when your group gets together to play.

This game strikes you as too funny, beginning with its name, but once you’ve learned it, you look forward to the next event.

Each player is dealt two sets of cards… thus the “Hand And Foot.” The hand is played first and when all the cards from the hand are used, then the foot is played. There are so many variations of this game and only what you are told by your teachers at the beginning becomes the standard rules for you.

Two to six can comfortably play the game, either individually or as partners.
Although some people say that Hand And Foot is best played by four people in partnerships, it is also played by any number of people as individuals. Get this… five or six decks of cards are used, including the jokers that come with each deck. It takes forever to shuffle that many cards but when they are ready, two hands are dealt to each player. Then the huge remaining stack of cards is placed face down in the middle of the table to be drawn from.

The remainder of the cards are put in a face-down pile in the middle of the table and the top card turned up to start a discard pile. The “foot” cards dealt to each one are placed in front of each player and cannot be looked at until the “hand” cards have been played. A complete game consists of four deals.

The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards by melding them. A meld is a set of from three to seven cards of equal rank placed face up on the table with no fewer than three cards or more than seven. Threes have special uses and cannot be melded in the normal way. Twos and jokers are wild cards and can be used as substitutes in melds, as long as there are at least twice as many real cards of the rank of the meld as wild cards. A clean meld has no wild cards; a dirty meld has one or two wild cards. This is one that hasn’t been used, not even introduced in my local group… it is a wild card meld, consisting entirely of wild cards. Hmmm!

You score points for melds and lose points for cards left in your hand at the end of the play. The play ends when someone gets rid of all the cards in their hand and foot by melding or discarding them. To go out, one group says you must have at least two dirty piles (like a pile that has four kings and three wild cards), two clean piles (no wild cards), and one wild pile (all wild cards) each with seven cards. Actually the locals play as needing two clean and one dirty pile of cards.
Many things are different about this game… the way you count, the number of cards you draw when it is your turn, the number of decks it takes to play the game, how many hands you play, and how you win. All this is best handled by asking a friend “Do you know how to play Hand ’N Foot?”

If the answer is yes, set about learning… their way! Just remember, whatever rules you choose to use, stick to ’em! Have fun!

Kitty Maiden is a staff writer for Seniors Today.