Understanding the Basics of Picking the Pack in Modern Canasta

Picking the pack:

In Modern Canasta, “Picking the Pack” means taking the entire discard pile, not just a few selected cards. The discard pile’s size can vary, and players must take all its contents. Picking the Pack is a strategic move with potential penalties, especially if a player ends up with three or more Aces or 7s at the end of the hand. Therefore, it’s essential to know when to Pick the Pack and when to avoid it.

General Rules for Picking the Pack:

Certain rules apply universally when a player decides to Pick the Pack:

Matching Pair Requirement: A player must have a matching pair for the top card of the discard pile.

No Dead Cards: The picked card cannot be one that has been used in a Closed Canasta by either team.

Legal Discard: To complete the turn, the player must discard a Legal Discard. A player cannot discard a SWAD (7, Ace, Wild, or Dead Card) on an empty discard pile. Since the draw pile will be empty after picking, a non-SWAD card must be discarded.

Canasta Card Limit: The maximum number of cards in a Canasta is seven. When picking the pack, a meld increases by three cards (the pair from your hand plus the matching card). Therefore, you cannot Pick the Pack if it would result in a meld exceeding seven cards.

Process of Picking the Pack:

When a player Picks the Pack, they match a pair from their hand with the top card of the discard pile, place all three cards in their meld area, and then add the remaining discard pile cards to their hand. There is no requirement to meld additional cards immediately, although it may be strategically beneficial. Players should sort and assess the picked cards, adding to existing melds, starting new ones, or completing Canastas as possible. The turn concludes with a discard, ensuring it is not a SWAD card.

Strategic Considerations:

Before picking the pack, players should consider the potential benefits and risks, including the likelihood of ending up with penalty cards like Aces or 7s. Understanding strategies and deeper insights into this decision-making process is essential for improving gameplay in this aspect.

Duties of the Dealer:

To the left of the Cutter, the Dealer receives the bottom portion of the cut cards and deals thirteen cards to each player, starting with the player to their left and proceeding clockwise. The remaining cards form the draw pile on the revolving tray. Players verify their hand count before the first move begins with the player to the Dealer’s left. If the discard pile is empty, the first player must draw from the deck.

Beginner Tip:

When picking a large pack, sort the cards into three face-down piles based on point value: 5-point, 10-point, and 20-point cards. Additionally, separate Toxic Cards (Aces and 7s) to manage and track how many you will need to discard. This organization helps in efficiently managing the large number of cards.

By understanding these basics and strategies for Picking the Pack, players can enhance their gameplay and make more informed decisions in Canasta.

All the Rules concerning Modern Canasta can be found in The Ultimate Guide to Modern Canasta which is available just by clicking here!

Find out more about picking the pack in the 16th chapter of the book!