Hand and Foot: A Fun Family Card Game

Updated on August 16, 2018
Lynne-Modranski profile image

Lynne loves to share fun activities and games she plays with her children and grandchildren because family time is the best time.

A fun card game for the whole family!
A fun card game for the whole family! | Source

Hand and Foot Is One of Our Favorite Card Games!

Hand and Foot is one of the best card games my family has ever played. We used to keep cards in the car, so when we were on vacation, we could play in the hotel room. With four players, each game takes forty-five minutes to an hour to play, but we love it.

My in-laws introduced this game to our family more than 20 years ago. Our daughters started playing by the time they were 11. During Christmas break, we would play for hours and only stop long enough for lunch! It's a very addictive game and easy enough for relatively young children as well as the elderly.

Our family loves it so much that my father-in-law and my husband built card caddies specifically for the game. But whether you have the caddy or not, keep reading! You'll find all the details on how to have a great time playing! So go ahead, grab one full deck of cards (including the jokers) for each player, and have a blast!

Setting up the Game

You'll need an even number of players and a full deck of cards for each player (including the jokers). We use four red decks for four players and add blue decks for additional players. This helps when storing the game, so we don't have to count out the first four decks each time we play.

We never play with more than six players. If eight people want to play, we divide into two different groups. Otherwise, it seems like the game never ends! A hand and foot match consists of four rounds with each round scored as described below.

  1. Players sit around the table in teams of two, with team players sitting opposite one another.
  2. All players shuffle a deck of cards. We trade off 1/2 our shuffling deck to ensure a good mix.
  3. Each player deals two stacks of 11 cards each from their deck.
  4. Each player keeps one stack and then passes the other stack to the player on their left.
  5. Each player chooses one stack to play first. This is called the player's hand.
  6. The other stack should be set aside facedown where all players can see it. This stack comes into play later in the game and is called your foot. You may not look at your foot until all the cards in your hand are gone.
  7. Any cards not dealt go in the draw pile in the center of the table.

Example of player positions.
Example of player positions.

How to Play

This is where the fun begins.

  1. Any player may go first and draws two cards from the draw pile.
  2. The player should arrange their cards in sets of three or more, but sets must be kept in their hand until the minimum number of points has been reached. (See scoring below.)
  3. At the end of the turn, the player must discard one card into a discard pile next to the draw pile.
  4. The discard pile should be kept so that only the top card is visible at all times.
  5. Play moves around the table clockwise with each player drawing two cards from the pile.
  6. After the first round, if the player has at least two cards that match the top card in the discard pile, they may take the top five cards from the discard pile instead of two cards from the draw pile. The player MAY NOT look at what is under the top card of the discard pile, so you'll want to pay attention!
  7. As soon as a player reaches the minimum number of points for that round, they may begin to lay down their sets of three or more. Both players from the team will build on the SAME set of cards. Players may wait until they have more than the goal points for strategy if they desire. As soon as the first player from a team lays down their cards, every player on that team may add to those sets on their next turn.
  8. When a player lays down the last card in their hand, they can pick up their foot. If they pick it up before they discard, they can continue playing cards from their foot. If it is after they discard, they must wait until the next round to play those cards.
  9. Play continues until at least one team collects two "clean" piles and two "dirty" piles. A clean pile is a set of seven cards with NO wild cards. A dirty pile is a set of seven cards with at least ONE wild card. You can never have more wild cards than regular cards in a set. When seven cards of one kind are collected, that pile should be stacked so that only the top card appears. It is now marked as closed. A clean pile should have a red card on top to mark it closed. A dirty pile should have a black card on top to mark it closed. Cards MAY BE added to a closed pile.
  10. A player may not "go out" (discard their final card) until their team has the minimum number of dirty and clean piles.
  11. A player must have played every card in their hand, and foot, and have a discard to "go out."
  12. The game is over when the first player "goes out."
  13. A player may hold a discard until their partner is in their foot or has played cards. However, that player may go out as soon as they are able.

Scoring

No game is complete if you can't name a winner, so here's how you tally the score. I've been told it's a lot like Canasta, but I've never played that game myself. Here's how to find the winner!

Minimum Points per Round

In order to lay down the first sets of three (or more) for their team, a player must individually have the minimum number of points in their hand as follows:

  • Round one: 60 points
  • Round two: 90 points
  • Round three: 120 points
  • Round four: 150 points

For example: In round one of the match, to lay down your first set(s) of three, those cards must add up to 60 points. You could have three aces, or a joker and two fours, or two sets of face cards, etc.

Card Values

  • Wild Card Joker: 50 points
  • Wild Card Twos: 20 points
  • Ace: 20 points
  • 9-King: 10 points
  • 4-8: 5 points
  • Black Three: 0 points
  • Red Three (in your hand when the game is over): –500 points (Yes, that's a negative 500 points if a red three is left in your hand after the first player goes out.)

How Cards Are Scored at the End of the Game

After the first player goes out points are added as follows:

Positive Points

  1. Every clean pile = 500 points (Seven of the same card with no wild cards in it—red card on top.)
  2. Every dirty pile = 300 points (Seven of the same card with at least one wild card —black card on top.)
  3. Every card that has been played is added to the player's score.

Negative Points

  1. Every red three in a player's hand or foot = –500 points
  2. Every card still in a player's hand or foot is subtracted from the player's score.

Keep track of points in each of the four rounds. The team with the most points at the end wins the match.

Strategy Tips for Hand and Foot

Tip 1

Avoid the temptation to lay down your matches before you've drawn at least a couple of times. This gives you time to make sure you don't have to use wildcards in every pile. But don't wait too long! Your partner may need you to lay your cards down so they can play theirs!

Tip 2

Try to be strategic in your creation of clean and dirty piles. Remember, you have to have at least two dirty (with wildcards) and two clean (no wild cards) before you can go out. Sometimes it's tempting to use the wildcards to create piles, but getting in a hurry and laying down all dirty piles can come back to haunt you later in the game.

On the other hand, if you need to get rid of wild cards to go into your foot, check every dirty pile to see which ones can afford an extra wild card and close up clean piles if you need to.

Tip 3

Get rid of red threes. Do not hold on to them. They are negative 500 points if they're still in your hand (or your foot) at the end of the game. It's also good to throw away black threes. Since you can't use them, they will keep you from completing your hand and going straight into your foot.

If you finish your hand with no discard, you may pick up your foot and continue play. If you still have a black three, you'll have to wait until the next turn to pick up your foot because play ends with the discard. At the end of the game, when I'm in my foot, I'll often hold a black three. If someone else goes out, and I only have a black three in my hand, there are no points off!

What's Your Favorite Card Game? Have You Ever Played Hand and Foot?

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    • Lisa Jane39 profile image

      Lisa Jane 

      4 months ago from Washington

      I love this article. I also love this game. It is addictive. My parents and I played this game every night for hours except for Wednesday's.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      12 months ago from the short journey

      It's such a fun game! But it's been a while...need to hang on to your post.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      2 years ago from United States

      My family loves card games but we've never heard of this one. It sounds like it would take a while to learn but I think we are up for the challenge. Thanks for explaining it so clearly!

    • profile image

      Natalie 

      2 years ago

      Never played it. It sounds interesting though.

    • profile image

      nguongame 

      4 years ago

      really helpful suggestions, thanks

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 

      4 years ago from Oxford

      No, but I would love to! I am the 'Game Night' contributor on Squidoo and I have just given it a boost :-)

    • notsuperstitious1 profile image

      Edith Rose 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Yes, I have played the game Hand & Foot, and love it.

    • profile image

      pratheeshomnitec 

      5 years ago

      @Teddi14 LM: Enjoy...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @Lynne-Modranski: Thank you .

    • Lynne-Modranski profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynne Modranski 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      @anonymous: We have always played that u can make a clean pile dirty at any time. So yes you can discard that clean card

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      we play hand and foot every Friday love the game but wanted to know if there was a rule about if we need one more dirty pile to go out and in my hand I have a card that would make it a clean pile I also have a wild card, can I use my wild card to make it dirty and discard my other card?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I forgot my email address . My friends and I have so much fun playing this, you have no idea. We live in an Over %0's Village, and one day I organised a Round Robin, and residents want me to do it again. My partner and I came 2nd. Great day, and a great game.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @JanetG LM: I am from Auatralia, and was introduced to this wonderful game, and my friends and I cannot get enough of it.Pity we could not play on line with you. Be woderful.

    • JanetG LM profile image

      JanetG LM 

      6 years ago

      We love, love, love playing hand and foot. Our rules are similar to yours. Thanks for sharing. I love the caddy!

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 

      8 years ago

      I loved this game as a kid! I have fav'd this. Thanks so much for sharing.

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