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What happens when the prize pile is frozen in canasta, and all but one player has only 1 card in hand, assuming no players have a canasta yet, and the player with more cards has already melded-in?

This occurred when playing a round of 3-person canasta. Both other players were down to two cards, while I had 6 cards in hand, and I had just taken the discard pile. I had already met the entry meld requirement. I then baited the next person in turn order to take the prize pile by discarding a card they wanted, they did and so ended the turn with one card in hand. That player then did the same thing to the remaining player. When it comes around to my turn, I am the only one with a hand and the other two have 1 card in hand.

So I froze the prize pile, seeing an opportunity to basically play all cards in the deck.

At this point, we all had a laugh (none of us are very experienced at this game) and decided to pack up the game with a nebulous winner, since it was late (I was thousands of points behind at this point: 1895 points versus 3595 and 3135.)

Am I right that in this situation, I can basically play the whole remaining deck? My thought process is as follows: I have 5 cards in hand, containing two pairs in suits I have not melded yet. I wait for the prize pile to get nice and fat (neither of the other two players can play anything) and then I take the prize pile, melding the minimum to do so (I can take the pile using either of the pairs in my hand.) At this point, I can just re-freeze the empty pile. If I do so, then there is a very high chance that I can take the pile again in subsequent rounds, because I have multiples in almost everything. Alternatively, I can just play the oodles I have and let the game continue, even I will have substantial card advantage.

Thanks!

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Your thinking is correct. If you are the only player who has more than 1 card in hand, then there is nothing to stop you from melding the rest of the cards in the draw pile. This has happened to me in a 2 player game (when playing draw 1 instead of draw 2). Nothing here would be different about 3 players. Your opponents have no way of ever legally picking up the discard pile or going out as long as your first discard after picking up the discard pile is a wild card.

You most likely should have been able to play out that hand and won the game. Being thousands of points behind wouldn't have mattered; you likely could have gotten enough points on that one hand to win.

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