Card Games: 3. Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot

  • Players: 2-8ish
  • Game Length: Long
  • Card Decks: At least 1 Full Deck for every 2 people
  • Jokers: Yes

We used to play this game at my Grandparents’ house a long time ago, but I’d long since forgotten it when Swac brought the rules to our place. Since then it’s become a bit of a favorite (especially for those Phase 10-esque haters). It’s a fantastic game, especially when you can play on teams. It does require a bit of time, and if you’re learning it for the first time, I guess it can seem a bit overwhelming.. unless you actually paid attention to the rules.. sigh. I kid.. I kid.. but no, seriously… listen to the rules when they’re explained. The main goal of the game is to complete books, and books are just sets of at least 7. There are no runs in this game, so don’t even bother. How about some rules, eh?

Once again, cards have point values, so I’m just going to lay those out at the beginning, so it’ll be an easy place to find them:

  • The Points:
  • Ace: 20 points
  • 2: 20 points (and WILD)
  • 4-9: 5 points
  • 10, J, Q, K: 10 points
  • Joker: 50 points (and WILD)
  • Black 3: -5 points
  • Red 3: -500 points

Points needed to lay out:

  1. 50 points
  2. 90 points
  3. 120 points
  4. 150 points

The full game is made up of 4 rounds, and the major rules are the same for all 4 rounds, with just a few special changes made each round. I’ll explain the first round, then explain how the next rounds are different.

  • The game begins by shuffling all the decks together, then each player deals 2 piles of 13 cards. Each person will then hand one pile to the person on their left, and one pile to the person on their right. Thus, each person will again have 2 piles of 13 cards in front of them at the end, just not the ones that they dealt.
  • The players choose one of the two piles (without looking at them. All the cards are still face down in piles) and this pile becomes their “hand“. They can pick up this pile, and look at the cards (though they keep them hidden from everyone else, obviously)
  • The other pile is set to the side. This is the “foot” and can not be viewed until the player has completely used all the cards in their hand.
  • The remaining cards are all placed in a pile face down in the center. This becomes the “pickup” pile.
  • Decide in whatever stupid way you’d like who is to go first. This person’s turn begins by drawing 2 cards from the pickup pile. They then must discard 1 card face up onto the discard pile.
  • The next player may either pick up two cards from the pickup pile, or grab the entire discard pile (It’s all or nothing with that thing). Then they discard one card, and we continue.
  • The goal is to collect sets (same card number, with at least 3 cards in the group). In order to “lay out” a player must have enough cards in sets to reach a set number of points. For the first round, this total is 50 points. What this means is that If I had 3 Jacks (Jacks are 10 points) and 4 7’s (7’s are 5 points) then my total is 50 points. So too if I had a Joker and two 6’s that’s a total of 60 points, as Jokers are worth 50. Once a person has that, if they desire (and usually you desire, but you are not forced to) then on their turn, rather than picking up cards they first must lay these cards out in front of them, face up. Once they have done so, and it’s been verified that they reached the point total needed, they can continue their turn as normal, picking up cards and discarding. Note that this could be done on their first turn, so if you get dealt exactly what you needed, you can lay out on your first turn.
  • Once a player has “laid out”, then on their turn, they pick up their two (or the pile) and can add on to their sets, or begin new sets as they’d like, and once they discard, their turn is over.
  • This continues until a player has used up all the cards in their hand. Then they move on to their foot, and continue with those cards.
  • In order to end a round, a player must complete a set number of “books”. Books are sets of at least 7 cards. A “clean book” is a set of 7+ with no wilds, and a “dirty book” is a set of 7+ cards that included at least one wild.
  • Note that you are allowed only 1 wild for every 2 “normal” cards. So one 2 or Joker with three 4’s, for example. With four 4’s you could add another 2 or Joker.
  • Also, once a “clean book” has been formed, you can not add Wilds to it to make it “dirty”. If it has 7+ cards in it, it’s “closed clean”. [This varies depending on who you play with, but that’s how we play, and it seems to work well]
  • Depending on how many people you are playing with, and if you are playing with teams or not, the number of clean and dirty books varies a bit. We often just decide when we start the game, but the numbers that seem to work well: With no teams, 1 clean and 1 dirty book needed to win. With teams, we often play 3 clean and 3 dirty. I’ll repeat that when I get into the “team” information.
  • Once a player has all the clean and dirty books they need, they can end the game by using up all their cards (they need not discard to end the game, but they can end the game by discarding). Once they are “out”, the game is done, and not one else takes a turn.
  • Note that if you use up all your cards and do not have the needed number of books, the game continues as normal.
  • Scoring is done as follows:
    • Clean books are each worth 500 points
    • Dirty books are each worth 300 points
    • Each card (whether in a finished book or not) counts it’s point value as well
    • All cards still in a person’s hand (or in their foot, if they didn’t get into their foot before someone went out) count against your total score.
    • Note that 3‘s are only negative. This means they can not be used to make sets/books (i.e. you can not have a set of 3’s). They are only points against you, and thus are discarded as soon as possible. Red threes in particular count 500 points against you, so having one or more of them in your foot is rather troublesome.

    Players add up all their books and cards and subtract the totals in their hand/foot, and that number is their total score for that round (and yes, it can be negative)

  • The next round begins. Deal 2 piles of 13 as before. If you are playing with more than 4 people, than hand your cards to the person 2nd to your left and right, if you have 4 players, just do the same as last time. In the second round you must have 90 points before you can go out.
  • The third round, if you have 4 players, you hand 1 pile to the player across from you, and keep the other one. This time you need 120 points to go out.
  • The fourth [and final] round, you keep both piles, and look at both of them, and decide which one you want as your foot, and which one you want for your hand. This time you need 150 points to go out.
  • In the end, the highest total score from all 4 rounds wins.


This game can be played with teams, and I like it quite a bit more when you play with teams. The basic rules are the same, and here are the differences:

  • You need an even number of players for teams, obviously. Then the person across from you is your teammate.(as in, at a circle table.. so if there are 6 people, 1 and 4 are partners, 2 and 5, and 3 and 6..You get the idea.
  • Each player must still “lay out” on their own, reaching the set number of points by laying out distinct sets. Once they’ve done so, then they may lay on their own or their partner’s sets. The key thing to remember is that you may not simply add on to your partner’s sets in order to lay out.. So, if your partner has 4 Aces, you can’t add 3 aces to it, and count that as your 50+ points to go out, you’d have to start a new set of aces, with your 3, for them to count. You could lay out something else (like 2 Queens and a Joker), then draw your two cards, then add the aces to your partner’s pile as part of your turn, as you’ve then already “laid out”.
  • You are allowed to have more than one set (or book, even) of a given number. So if you closed a book of 5’s, and then had three 5’s in your foot, you’re better off just starting a new book of 5’s. So too if you had a dirty book of a number, and wanted to just start a new, clean book with that number. That is legal.
  • Points are for an entire team. So you would add all the books and cards laid out, and subtract any cards in your hand/foot.
  • The only “table talk” allowed in the game is when you ask your partner “Is it okay for me to be done?” Since once a player uses up all their cards (assuming you have all the needed books) the game is done, this question can be asked to make sure that their partner doesn’t have a number of high point cards (or red threes) still in their hand. That’s the only question you can ask, and the answer should be a simple yes or no (anything else comes from the evil one.)

Tips and Additions

  • One fun addition I like is “Wild Books”. This is just as it sounds: a book of nothing but Wild cards. They don’t count towards your clean or dirty books, but they are worth 1500 points.
  • One important tip for team games is this: If you are the first person on your team to lay out, try to do so with as few different sets as possible: the reason being: Your partner then must lay out as well, and it would be beneficial to not create duplicate sets. If I lay out with 4’s, 6’s, 8’s, 9’s, 10’s, J’s and K’s, my partner is now stuck with either repeating some of those (making it harder to complete those books) or waiting until they have enough Q’s and A’s to lay out.
  • Getting 150 points to lay out in the 4th round is a bit of a challenge, especially without any Jokers. One helpful bit is that if you were to lay out a complete book of something (e.g. seven 5’s) you can count the entire book bonus as well. Thus seven 5’s is not 35 points, but 535 points… well above the needed 150

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