Thrift Treasure:  Canasta Caliente

Thrift Treasure: Canasta Caliente

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! -

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! -


About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as, and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

42 comments 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. What a steal! I don’t think I have ever played Canasta but would be willing to give it a go. Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for reminding us all about this game!

  3. Kristi says:

    We love Canasta! My mom, sister and I used to play it a lot. It’s fun no matter what your age!

  4. I love play card games, but never heard of this one before. will have to look in to it

  5. Erica says:

    You always find the funnest games to play with the kids. This one looks like a winner!

  6. Maria says:

    My family enjoys playing games together!! I will definitely check this game out for next weekend.

  7. Pam says:

    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.

  8. Looks like a fun game. I am more impressed with the price you found it. I should check out my local goodwill for fun toys and games.

  9. I haven’t played with cards in a long time but this actually looks really fun and interesting to play with younger kids.

  10. becca says:

    Never heard of this game but it looks fun and sound like a game we would play.

  11. Lawna says:

    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.

  12. Luchie C. says:

    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.

  13. That game is so much fun. We need to start a game night.

  14. Our Goodwill stores needs to have some of these treasures too! I never find anything this cool at the one near me. At .88cents it is quite a steal and looks like a fun game too.

  15. Rosey says:

    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. 🙂

  16. Brett says:

    That game looks fun!! We just got a treasure at our church store- Crazy Witches Puzzle game. It keeps us all busy!

    1. Scott says:

      Hadn’t head of that one – be sure to write about it and send us the link!

  17. Nicole says:

    Oh, my goodness! My grandmother used to love to play this – your post just brought back such wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing.

  18. This looks like a ton of fun! It also looks like a great way to get a child practicing math facts without knowing it. 😉

  19. cindy b says:

    This looks like such a cute game! bet my nephews would love this!

  20. JulieK says:

    I haven’t ever played Canasta but it looks like fun. I wish I had more card-playing friends!!

  21. What a fun game.. thanks for sharing, I had never heard of it but I know my daughter would love it.. will have to check it out…

  22. Jen says:

    I’ve never heard of this game, but it looks like fun!

  23. Emily says:

    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!

  24. Lena says:

    When the kids get older, I would love to play it with them – looks like a great game

  25. Roechelle says:

    We are big on thrift store shopping in our household.

  26. I really like Rummy so I’m sure I’d love this game, too!

  27. and here I thought Canasta was just for retired folks lol

  28. Chelsey says:

    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. 🙂

  29. Ha ha, Finally a game I recognize! When I was younger, my entire family would sit around the dinner table and play Canasta together! What a blast from the past!

  30. I haven’t played cards in forever, it’s more of a on-the-deck-in-summer thing, which is coming up soon! I need to get these!

  31. I never learned how to play Canasta. This looks like it would be a perfect family night activity with our teen.

  32. Daisy says:

    This looks like a lot of fun for our family. We need to try this game at a family game night!

  33. Canasta is one of my very favorite games to play. I used to play with my Nana all the time when I was a kid. So many fun memories!

  34. How funny! I have heard of the game Canasta tons of times and yet never actually seen what it looked like until I started reading this post.

  35. Dawn Lopez says:

    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.

  36. I have played this online but never in card-form. I want to go to the thrift shops you guys go to!! You find some great stuff!

  37. Great game, even greater price! Thank you for sharing!

  38. Alea says:

    This looks like a really fun game! I bet my 7 year old would love it.

  39. 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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