Card game between friends
Four decks, paired partners, high scores
Canasta prompts glee

Grandmothers taught each
Hours of love shared, special times
Rekindled flashbacks


The card game of Canasta (Spanish for “basket”) was devised by Segundo Santos and Alberto Serrato in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1939. From there it spread to Argentina, the USA and throughout the world. It was extremely fashionable in the 1950’s, threatening for a while to displace Contract Bridge as the premiere card game.

The rules were standardized in North America around 1950. This version of the game, called Classic Canasta, gained worldwide popularity.

Canasta is generally agreed best for four players, playing in partnerships. However, there are playable and enjoyable versions for two and three players.

I spent hours learning and playing with my grandmother when I was young. A few years ago, I mentioned it to my husband, discovering he was taught by his grandmother when he was young.

We resurrected the game, refreshed our memories of the rules, and started a revitalizing campaign among our families and friends. We play both Classic Canasta with 2 decks of cards, and RaceHorse Canasta with 4 decks. 

A trip “home” to Louisiana is not complete, unless several games are played with my mother, siblings and nieces. My nieces have taught their spouses. Much laughter is shared over hours and hours of playing game after game; thus the tradition continues into the next generations.

For Rules and Terminology, see Pagat

© rgb for “On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea”, 2011

About becca givens

Becca is an artist, poet, and animal communicator. She delights in cooking, nurturing, and sharing a rich spiritual life with others on the Path.
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14 Responses to Canasta

  1. I’ve never played bt have always enjoyed playing games of all kinds with family and friends.
    A nice way to spend a Sunday. Enjoyable post …


  2. Linda says:

    I have been desperately searching for the rules to racehorse canasta. Any idea where I find the rules?


    • becca givens says:

      Linda – I will see if I can find the rules for you … I had it bookmarked on a computer gone awry … so I might have to do some backtracking to find it … but it is out there!


  3. trisha says:

    i was addicted to cards before joining my first job (then i did not had time or else…..)


  4. Pat Cegan says:

    I, too, have great memories of playing canasta and other games. One nice thing about not having a television was that our family made its own entertainment. Thanks for the sweet memories, Becca. hugs, pat


  5. oH my gosh — I had forgotten that my Mother played Canasta. Hadn’t heard that term in decades. Is it easy to learn/play?


  6. Mike Patrick says:

    Hey, Becca. When I was a kid, we used to have card parties with four or five adult tables of canasta going at a time with family and friends. The winners from one table would rotate to the next table to face the winners there until there was a final, victorious couple. There were just as many kid tables playing at the same time. Great times, great memories.


    • Becca Givens says:

      I hadn’t heard of playing cannasta rounds until recently … I visited a friend, and his wife told me – she and a group of friends do this once a month … sounds like fun!


  7. souldipper says:

    I haven’t thought of Canasta for years, Becca. It’s true – it was a game the old folks played – but I loved it. That would be fun to have going again! Another fun thing to squeeze into life!


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