Love :: Hand & Foot

I love games, but especially card games. Last year when we moved into our home, our new neighbors taught us a card game called hand and foot that we were immediately addicted to. We started teaching it to everyone we knew, and quickly the running joke became, knowing this game is a prerequisite of friendship. (Not really, but we may see you more often if you play!)

Over the recent holidays we had one such couple over. They couldn’t remember all the rules and had tried to find it on the internet, but couldn’t find the precise version we played, so she suggested I write a blog entry about it. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before now! Hand & Foot is definitely something I love!

Hand & Foot (card game)

Players: 4 – 8ish; even number if you want to play partners.

Equipment: 1 deck per person + an extra, including jokers, shuffled together. We typically play with 4 people, so we have 5 decks ready to go, but we use the same set of cards if we play with 6 people & it works fine. If you are going to play frequently, you might want to invest in an automatic card shuffler. We paid $20 for ours at Mori Gifts, but obviously if you plan ahead you can pay less. Also, pad & pen for keeping score.

Game: 4 rounds of play, dictated by gradually higher requirements for melding: 50 pts, 90 pts, 120 pts, 150 pts.

Point Values:

  • 4 – 7 = 5 pts
  • 8 – K = 10 pts
  • 2 & A = 20 pts
  • Jokers = 50 pts
  • Red 3 =  -500
  • Black 3 = 0
  • 2 & Jokers = Wild Cards
  • Closed book, clean = 500
  • Closed book, dirty = 300
  • Go out first = 100

How to Win: The goal is to have the most points at the end of 4 rounds. Points are a combination of the books closed (base) + all the cards played (whether in a closed or open book) minus any points still in your hand or your foot. Remember the person who goes out first gets an extra 100 pts. A closed book = min 7 cards. Clean books have no wild cards; dirty books contain wild cards. To “go out” you must have closed one clean book and one dirty book.

Deal: Players deal themselves two stacks of 11 cards each. Then, they pass one stack to their left. Players select one stack to be their “hand” and leave the other stack (without looking at it) as their “foot.” The rest of the cards are left in two piles with the discard pile between them. The first discard card is turned over. It can’t be a wild card or a 3.

Play: Select a player to go first (shuffler); each round after is started by the next player to the left. At his turn, the player draws two cards (from either stack) and discards one. A player melds (lays down his cards) when he has the points necessary for that round for books of a minimum of 3-of-a-kind (plus wild cards if needed). After there are at least 8 cards in the discard pile, a player may take the top 8 cards instead of drawing two cards as long as he can play the top card with what he has in his hand. (If the player is melding, he must be able to meld with only the top card, not what is under it.)

When a player finishes his hand, if the last card he plays goes to the discard, he declares he’s “Previewing” and picks up his “foot” which then becomes his hand, playing when it is his turn again. If he is able to play the last card in his hand (i.e., it is added to a closed or open book, not the discard pile), he declares he’s “Rolling” and continues play on this turn with his “foot.”

It is possible to discard a card that you could otherwise play. Because a player cannot “go out” until he has closed a clean and dirty book, he may find himself discarding cards he could use until he draws what is needed to close these books.

Other Rules:

  • A player can continue to add to books he has already played.
  • Books must contain more face cards than wild cards at any given time.
  • After a book is closed (7 cards), a player may add face cards but not wild cards. A player may also start at new book of the same face card instead of adding to a closed book.
  • Players cannot look through the discard pile to determine if they want to take it. (When a player decides to take from the discard pile, he should turn the stack over & deal 8 cards from bottom, so that neither he nor the other players see what has been taken.)
  • For an easy way to distinguish between clean & dirty books, leave a red card on top for clean and black for dirty.
  • You cannot collect books of 3’s; black 3’s must be discarded.
  • Wild cards cannot be traded among books once they are played. (You can’t turn a dirty set clean.)

Alternate Play: An alternate to singles is to play with partners, sitting directly across from each other. Partners play on a joint melding board, meaning only one player has to achieve the points before both can play. If playing with partners, it is easier if one partner maintains open books and the other holds closed books.

You might want to create a cheat-sheet with the point values until you have that down. I know that these rules look long & tedious, but I promise this is a blast to play. Once you catch on, it is a breeze!

Hand & Foot – this is a game I LOVE!


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One Reply to “Love :: Hand & Foot”

  1. There is a wonderful app on itunes for scorekeeping. Just search for Hand and Foot score. It has variations for number of players and for different kinds of play, since there are different sets of rules out there. It keeps up with your score, as well as your history. My group likes to look back at old scores, especially if we are on a run of bad luck, to see how long it lasts!

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