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Form of rummy, using two full decks, in which players or partnerships try to meld groups of three or more cards of the same rank and score bonuses for seven-card melds. Eleven cards are dealt to each player, the undealt portion of the pack is placed on the table, and the top card is turned up to start the discard pile. Each player in turn must draw, may meld, and must discard one card. A hand ends when a player melds his last card (goes out). Canasta originated in Uruguay in the late 1940s; its name (meaning basket) is probably a reference to the tray for holding discards.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on canasta, visit Britannica.com.