Do you love playing card games with your family and friends? If so, you’re going to want to learn how to play the hand and foot card game. This fun and challenging game is perfect for all ages and can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. So gather your loved ones around the table, and get ready to have some fun!

hand and foot game rules

To make it easier to learn I have included long-form instructions and printable cheat sheets with scoring guides and rules for a handy reference to make family game night a breeze!

Here at Skip to My Lou, we believe in family game nights and love to spend time playing and laughing together. So, if you have never played Spoons, please give this fast, crazy card game a try!

What is the Card Game Hand & Foot?

Hand & Foot is a Canasta-like Rummy card game that became popular in the United States in the 1950s. Still, scratching your head? Hang on, help is on the way.

What You Need to Play Hand & Foot

Number of players: 4-6 for this version

The cards: Hand and Foot uses 5-7 decks of cards with Jokers. Use as one deck per player and then one more deck.

Type of card game: Strategy, individual or team

The object: Players try to be the first one to get rid of all their cards. They must get rid of their ‘hand’ first and then their ‘foot’.

Card values/scoring:

  • Jokers (Wild Cards) – 50 points
  • Deuces (Wild Cards)- 20 points
  • Aces (Wild Cards)- 20 points
  • Eights through Kings- 10 points
  • Threes through Sevens- 5 points


Four rounds make 1 game. There are minimum meld requirements for each round.

Round 1- 50 points

Round 2- 90 points

Round 3- 120 points

Round 4- 150 points

Rounds-Detailed Explanation Hand and Foot Card Game Rules

How do you do this, you ask? Here’s how! Players put down cards whose individual face values add up to at least the minimum requirement before the player or the team is in the game. A player may put down several melds at once to achieve minimum point values. If the player picks up the discard pile, they can meld additional cards from their hand along with the top discard and the two that match to help make the minimum count, including wild cards. However, players cannot count any of the other cards towards the minimum.

The Deal

Shuffle decks of cards carefully, making sure the cards are thoroughly shuffled. Each player is dealt 11 cards. This is their ‘Hand’. The ‘Hand’ is picked up and examined by each player.

Now for the ‘Foot’. Players are dealt a second set of 11 cards. These cards are kept face-down and only picked up when the ‘Hand’ has been used up. Pick up a perfect 22 cards from the stack you get a bonus 100 points.

The leftover cards are placed in the middle of the table and are referred to as the ‘Stock’ or ‘Stock Pile’.

The top card of the Stock Pile is turned face-up to start the discard pile. If the top card turns out to be a red Three, a Deuce, or a Joker, then place the card back in the middle of the Stock Pile and turn over the next card.

Game Play

Meld all of the cards from ‘Hand’, then ‘Foot’ by melding them. A meld is a set of 3-7 cards of the same rank that are placed face-up. A meld cannot have less than three cards or more than seven cards. A Meld belongs to the team if you are playing in teams. After a Meld of three or more cards starts, more cards can be added until there are seven cards in the pile. When a pile reaches seven cards, it becomes ‘Closed’ or ‘Book’. Deuces and Jokers can be used in melds along with at least four natural cards, but not red and black Threes.

Types of Melds

  • ‘Clean Books’ or natural meld- seven real cards of the same rank. (‘Red’ Book).
  • ‘Dirty Books’ or a minimum of four cards of the same rank and at least one wild card. For example, 5 eights and two Wild Cards (‘Black’ Book).
  • Melds may not consist of all Wild Cards.
  • Red Book (clean meld) -all natural, no Wild Cards – 500 points
  • Black Book (dirty meld) -at least 4 natural and Wild Cards – 300 points

Starting The Game

  • Players pick up their ‘Hand’ and play begins with the player on the dealer’s left. Player draws two cards from the Stock pile every turn and discards one card each turn.
  • Play proceeds to the left.
  • Players have the option of picking up the discard pile which actually means only the top seven cards from the discard pile. Players may do this only if the top card is not a black Three. There is one more rule about picking up the cards of the discard pile. Player must hold two cards of the same rank as the top card of the discard pile. These three cards must be immediately laid out, possibly with the other cards he is holding. Also know that the player’s team must have melded till then, or he is melding while picking up the pile.
  • Only the top card of the discard pile can be used towards the points needed for melding. The 6 other cards cannot be used towards points needed for the meld.
  • To meld, all the cards that are played must equal the number of points that are required for that round. Wild cards have bonus points.
  • If the player chooses to pick up the discard pile, they must make a meld of the top card of the discard pile. As you go on making melds, the number of cards in the ‘Hand’keeps reducing and you eventually start playing the ‘Foot’. Players must announce that they have switched to their ‘Foot”. If a player happens to lay out all other cards except one, then the player can discard it. This marks the end of the players’ turn.
  • When the ‘Book’ of seven is completed, the player has to place the cards in a single stack. For a Red or ‘Clean” book, the top card is red. For a Black or ”Dirty” book, the top card must be black.
  • To ‘Go Out’, the player must get a Clean and Dirty, and be completely out of cards. Players must discard the final card and not simply run out of cards. If playing in teams it is a good idea to ask your partner’s permission.

Keeping Score

When a player goes out, it marks the end of the current round. The players are then supposed to calculate their scores. Players records their meld count first. Players then calculate their second point count which is calculated from each card’s value. If any card is left in the player’s hand, it will count against their score for that round.

The object of the game is to use up all your hand and foot first. The player or team with the highest score wins.

hand and foot score sheet printable

There are some fun bonuses. You get 100 points for picking up exactly 22 cards and you get an extra 100 points for going out first.

There are so many variations to the game don’t be afraid to make up a few rules of your own.

Before You Go

Thank you for spending time with me today learning about Hand and Foot! We play it after dinner and it doesn’t take long before these rules become so easy to remember! I hope you find the printable cheat sheets helpful!

If you and your friends and family like trivia games, here are several for you to check out:

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