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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hand and Foot

We LOVE card games in this family!

For the past couple of months we have become addicted to playing the card game Hand and Foot. It was a game I had heard about years ago, but just recently played for the first time. You don't want to start the game unless you have plenty of time to enjoy it. I have only played one complete game. Each round can take a long time, and we don't normally have 4 or 5 hours to kill. The game consists of 4 rounds, but you can play as few or as many as you have time for. But be careful! It's addicting!

This is a game where everybody seems to have different house rules, but the idea behind the game is the same. It can be played as teams of two, or every man for himself. Playing as teams seems to speed up the game a bit, but you've still got a long game ahead of you.

I'm going to share with you the house rules we play by.

hand and foot card game
Start by gathering your decks of cards. Keep your Jokers; you need them for this game. This can be two decks per person, or 1 per person +1. I think it's more fun when you have more cards, so we typically do two decks per person. We have a huge card collection (at least 30 or 40 decks), so it isn't a question of how many we can come up with. A deck of cards is usually the first souvenir we will hunt for when we're on vacation to a new place.

You want to shuffle all your decks together. We like to do a table wide smearing of the cards. It seems to shuffle faster and more efficiently this way. Once the cards have been shuffled, you make piles of cards leaving room in the middle for discards.

hand and foot card game
There is no official dealer in the game, everyone will participate. You have two piles of 12 you will be dealing, the Hand and the Foot piles. We give 100 bonus points to any individual that can pick up exactly 24 cards, no more, no less.

hand and foot card game

Instead of keeping the Hand and Foot piles that you dealt, you are going to hand one of the piles to the person on your left, and the other goes to the person on your right. They will do the same for you. Once you are given your two piles, you can choose without looking which one you will use as your Hand. You will set the Foot aside, and you cannot at any point look at the cards in it. (At least not until your Hand is gone.)

The point of the game, in each round you will try to get two clean books, two dirty books, and get rid of all the cards from your Hand and Foot. If you are playing as a team, you collect the two clean and dirty books together, and only one of you needs to make it through your Hand and Foot. You are not allowed to talk about what cards you have with your team mate. The only question you are allowed to ask is at the end, you may question whether they are ready for you to go out (Win the round.) Since every single card has a point value, you want your team mate to be as close to finishing their Hand and Foot as possible. Just because you are able to finish a round, does not mean you will be the winner of the game. The team with the highest points wins the game. Each game has 4 rounds, kind of like mini-games.

Sound confusing? There really is a lot of information and rules, but it's very easy to catch on to how the game is played.

I'll start by explaining point values. The winner will be the one with the most points at the end of 4 rounds. Every card that is laid down on the table is worth points. Every card that you are caught still holding in your hand is worth negative points.

I have a cheat sheet on the points that we keep on the table for new players. It helps to lessen the confusion and questions. Feel free to print it off and use it.

hand and foot card game sheet

I have mine folded in half and laminated. They don't take up much space on the table; you need all the room you can get!

hand and foot card game

Point Values:
Red 3 is worth 100 points
Black 3 is worth -100 points
4, 5, 6, 7 is worth 5 points
8, 9, 10, J, Q, K is worth 10 points
A is worth 20 points
2 (wild card) is worth 20 points
Joker (wild card) is worth 50 points

Clean Book (7 cards with no wild) is worth 500 points
Dirty Book (7 cards with wild) is worth 300 points
Book of number 7's (7 cards with no wild) is worth 1500 points
Going out is worth 100 points

At the end of each round, when someone gets 2 clean and 2 dirty books, and goes through their Hand and Foot, you will add up the point values of the cards laid down on the table for each player. There will be two totals you will add up. You get individual points for each card laid down, and you get bonus points for each book you complete.

A book is at least 7 cards. It cannot be made out of 3's or all wild cards (2, Joker) It can be either dirty or clean, depending on if there are wild cards in it.

A clean book has no wilds and is worth 500 points, unless you are making a book of 7's which is worth 1500.

hand and foot card game

To make a dirty book you will need to have at least 1 wild card in it. The ratio must have a +1 card to wild. (For instance, if you are collecting 4's, you must always have 1 more 4 than you would wild cards. 4,4,4,4,2,2,2 or 4,4,4,2,2 or 4,4,2) And remember Joker's are also wild!

hand and foot card game

Now to start the game! You should be holding your Hand which consists of 12 cards.

hand and foot card game
Two sets are allowed to be laid down, 4's and Jack's, however neither is enough points to make initial minimum requirement.

Each turn consists of the following 3 parts:

1.) Drawing. You must begin by taking two cards from any of the piles in the middle, and add them to your Hand. You cannot touch the discard pile.

2.) Laying down. *Optional on Your Turn* You can lay down any set of 3 or more cards. (Remember wild cards can be added if you have the correct ratio.) You can add to previously laid down sets to try to make a book. If you are playing in teams, once a set of three cards is laid down on the table, your team mate can now add their own cards to help complete a book (on their turn).

If you are holding a red 3, you can set it down anytime during your turn, and immediately draw a replacement card. You don't need to make a set, and they are exempt from the point requirement. The replacement card is also different from the two you draw at the beginning of your turn. If you pick up a 3 during your turn you can lay it down immediately, and draw a new card.

hand and foot card game

Before you initially lay down your cards in a round (3's are exempt from this rule), there is a minimum point requirements you must first meet in each round. This means all sets of 3 or more must equal the point requirement. You don't need to meet this requirement with one set or book. You can use as many sets as necessary to achieve this. After you have met the point requirement, the point values do not matter in subsequent turns for lying down. If you are playing in teams, only one team member must first meet the point requirement.

Round 1 – 90 points
Round 2 – 120 points
Round 3 – 150 points
Round 4 – 180 points

3.) Discarding. You must always discard 1 card at the end of your turn. At the end of the round, when you have completed your clean and dirty books, and have gone through your Hand and Foot, you still must be able to discard 1 card. If you pick up a black 3, you want to discard it as soon as possible. If a black 3 is still in your hand at the end of a round it is worth negative 100 points!

hand and foot card game

To get into your Foot you need to first finish off all the cards in your Hand. This means either laying them down or discarding them. If you can get rid of all the cards in your Hand without discarding one, you can immediately start playing your Foot cards. If you have to discard your last card, you will be able to pick up your Foot cards BUT you must wait until your next turn to play them.

A little bit of game etiquette: when you finish a book, you close the cards and stack them at the top of your other sets. If it is a dirty book, you leave a black card on top. If it's clean, you leave a red card on top. This helps other players quickly know where you stand in the game. This is always helpful to watch for. There are times you are holding out for something, and you would want to close out if you notice another player is about to finish the round.

hand and foot card game

To go out in a round you need 2 clean books, 2 dirty books, you must go through your Hand AND Foot, and discard your last card. Once an individual or team is able to go out in a round, the round is over. (Remember playing in teams, only one team mate must finish both Hand and Foot.) Everyone left with cards in their Hand and Foot must total the point value, and subtract it from their total score for the round.

hand and foot card game
The player or team with the most points at the end of all four rounds wins the game. To shorten the game, only do 1 or 2 rounds, or agree ahead of time on a score you want to play to.

hand and foot card game

If there is anything I didn't explain well enough, or if you have any questions at all please feel free to ask! It may sound complicated but it's really worth the trouble of learning how to play.

Come up with some of your own house rules! If you don't like one of our rules, tweak it; make it your own. It's the only game you can make up rules or change the ones you've got.

Next time you get together with friends, consider playing Hand and Foot! You're guaranteed a fun time!


  1. Can a person, after discarding, change his mind and continue to play on his Partners melts? We are having a family dispute about that.

    1. I would say no. Our family rule is once you have discarded, your turn is over. There is no going back even if you missed seeing something important.



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