OBJECTIVE OF RAILROAD CANASTA: The objective of Railroad Canasta is to reach a score of 20,000 points.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or more Players
MATERIALS: Two standard 52-card decks per player, 2 jokers per player, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.
TYPE OF GAME: Rummy Card Game
OVERVIEW OF RAILROAD CANASTA
Railroad Canasta is a trick-taking card game for 2 or more players. The goal is for you to reach a score of 20,000 before your opponents.
The first dealer is chosen at random and passes to the left for each new deal.
This deck is shuffled, and each player will draw a hand of 13 cards. After this, each player will draw an additional 11 cards that they may not look at. These 11 cards are called the Kitty.
The remaining deck is placed centrally as a draw pile and the top card is turned over to start the discard pile.
Card Rankings and Point Values
All suits are ranked Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 (low).
Jokers and twos are wild cards and can be played to represent any of the cards above. There may never be more the 3 wild cards in any meld or canasta.
Red threes must be immediately placed with your melds upon drawing them, and if the first card in the discard pile is red three it freezes the pile. Whenever a player later draws the pile, they must immediately meld the red three. Red threes do not count towards your meld requirements. See scoring below for more details.
Black threes cannot be placed in melds except when a player is going out. When a player is going out, they may meld as many black threes as you would like. (No wilds may be used.) It is the only meld that may have more than 7 cards. it does not, however, score a player a canasta bonus. If a black three is discarded to the discard pile it freezes the pile only for the next turn until it is covered with the next discard.
The cards have values associated with them for meld requirements (discussed below). Jokers are worth 50 points each. 2s and Aces are worth 20 points each. Kings through 8s are worth 10 points each, and 7s through 4s and black 3s are all worth 5 points each. Red 3s are special (discussed below).
CANASTAS AND MELDS
A meld consists of three or more cards that may be later added to. A meld cannot have more than 7 cards added to it. Once seven cards are reached it becomes a canasta. You may also never have two melds of the same rank at the same time. Once a meld of a certain rank is completed, however, you may start another of the same rank.
A Canastas is a completed meld that has 7 cards and falls into one of 4 categories.
The four types of canastas are Red, Black, Wild, and Sevens.
Red canastas have 7 cards all of the same rank with no wild cards. They are worth 500 points each. They are marked by having a red card on top of the canasta.
A Black canasta has both natural and wild cards all of the same rank and is worth 300 points. When starting a mixed meld to finishing a mixed canasta you must have at least 2 natural cards and never more than 3 wild cards. They are marked by having a black card on top of the canasta.
A wild canasta contains 7 wild cards. They are each worth 1000 points.
A seven canasta consists of seven 7s and may not contain any wild cards. They are each worth 1500 points.
Some requirements need to be met for a player to start melding each round. The points associated with the cards described above are used when determining a melds score. Your current score determines how valuable your initial melding must be to be legal. When making your initial meld you may make as many melds as you need to reach the requirements, meaning you may start several melds of three or more cards.
If you have a negative score your meld(s) needs only to be worth 15 or more points to start a meld. If your score is from 0 to 4995 then your initial meld(s) must be worth 50 or more points. with a score of 5000 to 9995, your initial meld(s) must be worth at least 90 points to play. If your score is 10000 to 14995 then your initial meld(s) must be worth 120 or more points to play, and if your score is 15000 or more then you must have an initial meld(s) worth 150 or more points to play it.
Red threes and previous canastas do not count towards meld requirements, only the cards within the melds being played count towards their initial value.
The game begins with the player left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise. On a player’s turn, they will do the following in this order. First, they will draw two cards from the draw pile, or draw the entire discard pile (discussed below). Then they may start a meld or add to any melds you have already started. Finally, to end your turn a player will discard one card from their hand to the discard pile face up.
Once a player has completed a non-black canasta, they may look at their kitty. Once the player has done this and discarded for the turn, they may then pick up their kitty and add it to their hand.
The discard pile is used frequently in the game.
The discard pile may have any card discarded to it, but sevens may not be discarded until all players have a seven canasta.
You cannot draw the discard pile if it is frozen. The discard pile is frozen temporarily when a black three is discarded to the top of it or can be frozen until unfrozen by discarding a wild card to it.
When a wild is discarded it is placed sideways in the pile to mark it is frozen. When frozen the only way to unfreeze it is to draw the entire pile (described below).
You may draw the discard pile when frozen or unfrozen if you hold two natural cards that match the top card of the discard pile, but you must immediately meld the top card of the pile with the two cards from your hand. Also, if you have not already, you must meet your meld requirement. Then the rest of the discard pile is drawn to the player’s hand. Any red threes are immediately played with your melds.
When the pile is not frozen a player can take the top card of the discard pile only if they have a meld of fewer than 7 cards of the same rank. You must immediately play this card to the meld.
Ending the Round
There are three possible ways to end the round. A player may go out (described below), the stock may run out and a player wishes to draw or must draw from it, or finally, a player has a hand full of sevens and at least one player has not completed a canasta of sevens.
When the draw pile is empty it does not automatically end the round. The round may continue if as long as the active player is willing to and able to draw the top card of the discard pile. once they are not able to or no longer wish to and a player tries to draw from the empty sock the round ends.
Ending the round with a hand full of 7s is unlikely. Players are not allowed to purposely play so that may end the round this way and must try to keep a legal discard. The only way for this to happen is for a player to draw into it. if it does happen, however, a player may meld all their sevens, and having no legal discard the round will end.
To go out a player must have at least one completed canasta of each type. If you have not you may not go out or make any play that would leave you with no cards in hand.
To go out you must meld all cards in your hand except one, which you will then discard to leave you with no cards at the end of your turn. your final discard cannot be a 7.
After the round ends scoring begins.
If the round ended with someone going out, that player scores an additional 100 points to their score. Then all players score points for all the cards in their melds, any bonus points for completed canastas, and melded red threes (discussed below). Then the players will subtract from their score the points from the remaining cards in each of their hands. This includes the kitty.
Red threes are worth 100 points each. Each one melded scores this bonus, if it has not been placed with your melds because it was in your kitty then it does not score these points.
If the round ends without a player going out the round is scored as above except no player scores the 100-point bonus for going out.
END OF GAME
The game ends when a player reaches 20000 or more points at the end of a round. If more than one player exceeds the goal, then the player with more points wins. if there is a tie additional rounds are played until a winner is found.