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Suppose I have cards enough in my hand to pick up the discard pile in canasta. For this scenario, it does not matter whether the pile is frozen or not.

Can I look through the cards of the discard pile to see if it would be worth my while to pick up the pile?

or

Is there a rule against browsing through the pile before picking it up?

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No, you cannot.

One of the important skills in Canasta is keeping track of what has been discarded so far. Not only to decide if it is worth picking up, but to figure out which cards are safer to discard without letting your opponent pick up the pile.

I did not find a specific rule quote stating this, the rules generally only state what you are allowed to do, and there is no rule allowing you to do this. Some rule books do clarify that the pile is kept squared up; the purpose of this is so that only the top card be visible.

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