If I analyze the demographics of the people visiting our site, the vast majority are female and fall somewhere in the 20-55 age range. The game we found to play this week had a huge popularity explosion in the 1950’s, well before any of you (and myself) were born or old enough to play. This doesn’t mean that Canasta is an old person’s game; it just means it has passed the test of time and deserves a place in your game arsenal.

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.comThis great and almost-new card game was only $0.88 at our local Goodwill and is the “Caliente” version. Caliente just adds some optional rules (negative-scoring cards), but we’ll focus on the traditional game of Canasta, which this game provides as well.

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.comCanasta is very similar to Rummy and in fact was originally called “Argentine Rummy” when it was introduced to the U.S. in 1949. You try to collect card “sets” with a teammate and keep score of your point values over multiple rounds with the requirements getting more difficult as you progress towards a winning score.

Players are dealt 11 cards each to start the game.

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.comPlay begins by drawing a card from the pile and examining your hand for matching sets.  Unlike Rummy, runs (J-Q-K, 7-8-9, etc.) are not allowed. Only matching sets (5-5-5, A-A-A). There are wild cards, but you cannot have more wild cards than non-wild cards in a set (one wild per set of three, two wilds per set of five and so on).

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.com

In order to begin laying down cards you must be able to play a minimum amount of total points (called a “meld”). When the game starts, this requirement is only 50 points, but as the game progresses it increases to as high as 120 points. This rule is fantastic for keeping the game very close the entire time as teams may have different meld requirements. Once you end your turn you must discard one card which the next person can pick up if they can use it in a meld right away.

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.comPlay continues in this fashion until one team is able to “go out” by one player using every card in their hand. The trick to Canasta is you may not go out unless you have at least one set of seven cards (called a “Canasta”). This could be a “natural” Canasta using no wild cards or a regular Canasta using wild cards. The difference? You’ll get a few more bonus points at the end of the round when you tally your scores if your Canasta is a natural version.

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.comA game is typically played to 5,000 points which should take around 45-60 minutes. If you like Rummy, you’ll love Canasta. You could technically play it with a couple regular decks of cards and can find the complete rules on Wikipedia.

For us it is nice to have a custom deck that we can pull out and start playing right away. You can find a number of different Canasta offerings from Amazon, most well under $10. Our Canasta Caliente version was issued by toy company Winning Moves Games, who specialize in all types of classic games. Be sure to also check them out on Twitter and Facebook!

Do you remember Canasta? Look at this "hot" Caliente version! - SahmReviews.com

42 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: Canasta Caliente

  1. You guys do find lots of good stuff at the thrift shop, huh? I have heard of this game, but never actually played it. I keep meaning to check out our local thrift shop for games and I will get there one of these days 🙂

  2. Canasta and Rummy were played a lot by my mom and her friends when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. They had some type of monthly card club in the afternoon where they would play when we were in school. I also remember playing it when we would have family reunions in the summer and were were at the camp grounds. Brings back good memories.

  3. This seems like a great game to add to our game collection. My mom visits thrift shops from time to time, so I will have to see if she will keep an eye out for this specific game.

  4. Oh but I’ve read of Canasta in some of the books I’ve read; even when I was younger. It sure has survived the test of time. I have never played it yet though. This is the closest “look” into the game that I ever had to date.

  5. We used to have Canasta parties when we were young and none of our friends had kids yet. 🙂 We should probably strike one up again, the kids are all old enough to play w/each other now. 🙂

  6. I’ve been looking for ways to entertain my 10 year old sister during her spring break as she’ll be coming to hang out with me. I bet she’d like this game!

  7. I totally pinned this post – I love these ideas and old games for my kiddos when they get a little older. Such fun memories. They need to re-make some of them though. 🙂

  8. Wow, that is so cool. I haven’t heard of it, but it sounds like a great game to have. I am kinda jealous that you got yours at such a steal.. but I think I could manage to swing it for $10. Thanks for sharing some history with us, I can’t wait to ask my parents if they’ve heard of it.

  9. We grew up with the whole family playing Canasta in Brazil … and what was great was that all ages could play. I remember endless rounds of Canasta when away on vacation … on islands with no electricity, playing by candlelight! Great memories, thanks!

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