Rules of Continental

How to play Continental

Continental is a card matching game like Gin Rummy, Remigio or Canasta. It has two characteristics that make it unique: the melds to be made after each deal are fixed and it is possible to take another player's discard out of turn, taking an extra "penalty" card when doing so.


The objective of the game is to meld the cards in combinations and reveal them, scoring the cards that remain in the hand, whether combined or not. The winner is the player who has the least points at the end of the game.


Continental is played with several 52-card Spanish poker decks, although English poker decks with the same number of cards are also accepted. Two Jokers are required per deck. For four players, you start with two decks and finish with three. For five to eight players, it is best to start with two decks, add one after the first two partial games, and another after the next two.


Two to eight players. The game is always individual, with no pairs or teams being formed.


The order of the cards is normal, from ace to king consecutively.

The value of the cards is as follows:

  • Joker -> 50 Points
  • Ace -> 20 Points
  • K, Q, J, 10, 9 and 8 -> 10 Points
  • 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 -> 5 Points


Players draw cards to determine who is first to deal. The cards are then shuffled, divided and six cards dealt to each player, one at a time, counterclockwise. The rest of the deck is then divided into two piles and left in the center of the table. The stock deck usually contains more cards than that of the penalty deck. The top card of the stock deck is removed and placed face-up and used to start the discard pile.


Each player, on their turn, can take the top card from the discard pile or from the stock deck. Their turn ends when they discard a card, which is left on the discard pile. If no card is taken from the discard pile, any of the following players may do so on their turn, as well as drawing a card from the penalty deck.

During their turn, a player with melds corresponding to the current game can expose them – even if they do not close due to having taken extra penalty cards – keeping the remaining cards, whether melded or not.

The advantages of exposing the combined cards are:

  • Penalty points are reduced if someone closes.
  • To be able to place unmatched cards on the exposed melds of others, without having to undo and split straights and without placing repeated cards on these melds.
  • To be able to use the exposed Jokers. After revealing their cards, any player can substitute an exposed Joker for the card it represents and use it in any other straight. The only reason to place it in another trio is that it cannot be used by other players.

On the other hand, exposing it has the disadvantage of facilitating another player to close.

When someone closes, each player proceeds to write down the value of the cards remaining in their hand. The cards are then picked up and the turn of dealing passes to the next player, who will deal the corresponding cards, and so on. At the end of the last hand, the player with the least accumulated points wins the game.


Players can make the following two combinations in each hand:

  • Trio -> Three cards of the same rank, regardless of suit.
  • Straight -> Four consecutive cards of the same suit.

The Joker is a special card that replaces any other card in the deck. A trio can be made with two Jokers and a natural card, but not with three Jokers.

The maximum number of cards in a trio is determined by the number of decks in play (four cards per deck plus two Jokers). In a straight, the maximum number is thirteen (all cards in a suit), even if some are replaced by Jokers. It can begin and end with any card and the ace can be the intermediate card between the deuce and the king.

In Continental, the melds to be made are fixed and the order in which they must be played is as explained below:

  • First game -> Six cards are dealt and two trios must be made.
  • Second game -> Seven cards are dealt and a trio and a straight must be made.
  • Third game -> With eight cards, two straights.
  • Fourth game -> Nine cards are dealt, three trios.
  • Fifth game -> Ten cards are dealt to make two trios and a straight.
  • Sixth game -> With eleven cards, a trio and two straights.
  • Seventh game -> With twelve cards, three straights.

If you want to extend the game (usually if only three or four players participate), you can increase the number of cards dealt to sixteen and proceed according to the indicated scale.


In Continental, any player may take the discard of another player if none of the previous players has taken it. If the player who takes the discard is the player whose turn it is, play proceeds normally. If it is another player, they must also take a card from the deck prepared for this purpose, called a "penalty" card. This double draw can cause a player, after making melds, to have cards left in their hand.

If a player chooses to take their own discard and no other player has already done so, they must also take a "penalty" card.


When a player closes for having melded all their cards, the other players score the points from the cards they still have in their possession, even if they are part of a meld.


Continental Rules
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