Canasta is a strategy based game and chance plays a small role in it. If you understand the rules and strategize well, winning at the game becomes simple. A few important strategies that can help you master the game of Canasta are discussed below.

Hand management

Knowing when to lay the cards down in a meld and when to hold them is called hand management. This is very important while playing the classic version of the game, because only one card is drawn at a time and players discard one with every turn. This strategy is also important because every time you use a card as meld, the overall size capacity of your hand reduces. For instance, if you set down a meld of three cards in the beginning, your hand size will remain at a maximum of eight until the next game begins.

In a way, this is a good thing because laying down cards is how you accumulate points and finally win the game. In a partnership game, more the melds you have, more will be the options available to your partner to play off your cards, which earns team points. On the other hand, it is important not to rush to lay down your melds because having more cards means more options. It is easier to employ a winning strategy if you have more options.

Once a player has only one card left in his hand, it is almost impossible for that card to be fruitful because the player will not have sufficient cards to remove the top card from the discard pile. The result of this is that the player can only hope to draw a card in order to get a meld. The most important thing that you need to understand in hand management is that different cards are worth different points. If you have high value melds, they should be played. But they should have enough value that laying them down is worth it. If you have cards like 3's, 4's, 5's and 6's, it is better to wait for better ones.

Using the discard pile efficiently

Picking up the discard pile can be tricky for two reasons. Firstly, there are only certain circumstances under which you can pick up this pile and these opportunities do not come very often. It depends largely on your luck. The second factor is that picking up the discard pile can mean picking up many points. This adds up as negative for your partnership. Going negative is a really bad deal for your partnership. It is best not to pick up the discard pile towards the end of the pile, especially when there are chances of another player leaving the game.

But it is sometimes better to pick up the discard pile for the very same reasons. The whole range of points gives you more options. Very high scores that can change your game can only come from picking up the discard pile. But you should be careful before taking this route.


Finally, it is important to practice as much as you can to learn and master this game. The more you practice, the better understanding you will have as Canasta can sometimes be complicated. There are various online casinos that offer this game and it is a great way to start if you don’t have company. It is advisable to play free games first. Once you feel confident of your skills, you can start with small stake games and later move on to higher stakes. Practicing Canasta will help you come up with your own strategies when faced with unexpected situations.