A game of Rummy 500 in progress.

Rummy is a group of card games notable for gameplay based on the matching of similar playing cards. The Mexican game of Conquian is considered by David Parlett to be ancestral to all rummy games, which itself is derived from a Chinese game called Khanhoo and, going even further back, Mahjong.[1]


General features of Rummy-style games


A book consists of at least three cards of the same rank or consecutive cards of the same suit. This is an almost universal pattern, although there exist minor variations, such as allowing only melds of the first type or requiring in melds of the second type that the cards are all of a different suit. In some games it is required that the melds of the second type contain at least four cards. Some games also feature wild cards, which can be used to represent any card in a meld. The number of wild cards in a meld may be restricted.


A fairly large number of cards is used. This varies from one standard deck upwards. There are, for example, games that use five standard decks plus some jokers shuffled together.

Each player is dealt a hand of cards; while the specific number is dictated by the strain of rummy being played, the deck is never completely emptied. The remains of the deck is placed face down to form the stock. There is also a face-up pile called the discard pile, which may be initially empty, or it can contain one card, which is turned from the stock. The winner is obliged to deal when a new game commences.

The Play

In the card game of Rummy, two people playing get ten cards each. When there are more than two people, fewer cards are dealt to each player. The person left of the dealer is the first person to play. The dealer switches from person to person going to the left. The dealer flips one card to and places it next to the pile to begin the game.

The first person to go takes a card from the deck or the card placed beside it. When the player has done that, they may either put three cards of the same number or a straight. After this is done, or if they do not make a play at all, a card from their hand is discarded onto the pile beside the deck.

If another player has cards down, the others can play off of them.


When someone melds all his/her cards (except, possibly, for one, which is thrown into the discard pile), the hand ends and the scores are calculated. In some games everyone can make melds at this phase, and some games allow a player to end a hand with a few unmatched cards in his/her hand.

You typically get positive points for your melds, and/or negative points for non-melded cards in your hand. In some games large bonuses are given for special, particularly difficult melds. Also being the person who melded all his/her cards is usually awarded, depending on the game this award may be rather small compared to other scoring, or it can be the deciding factor of the game.

Basic Rummy

There are many variations of the card game Rummy. Basic Rummy is also called Sai Rummy. Second type Rummy is also called Sanka Rummy. They all share a common set of features found in the basic game. A standard deck of 52 cards is used. The cards rank from 2 (low) to A (high). Rummy can be played to a certain score, or to a fixed number of deals. In Rummy if both players go over five hundred in the same round, the player who was leading before that round win.

The Shuffle and Deal

Each player draws a card. The player with the lowest card deals first. The deal then proceeds clockwise. The player on the dealer's right cuts (this is optional).

In two player rummy, each player gets ten cards. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, cards are dealt clockwise, face down, one at a time. The dealer then puts the rest of the deck, face down, between the players. This forms the stock pile. A single card is then drawn and placed face up next to the stack. This is called the discard pile.

In three or four player games, seven cards are dealt to each player. Five or six players may also play, in which case each player receives six cards.

Playing Rummy

Play begins with the player on the dealer's left and proceeds clockwise. Each player draws a card from the stock or the discard pile. The player may then meld or lay off, which are both optional, before discarding.


If a player has three cards of the same suit in a sequence (called a sequence or a run), they may meld by laying these cards, face up, in front of them. If they have at least three cards of the same value, they may meld a group (also called a set or a book). Melding is optional. A player may choose, for reasons of strategy, not to meld on a particular turn. The most important reason is to be able to declare "Rummy" later in the game.

Laying off

A player may also choose to "lay off" some cards on an existing meld. This means that if a player can add to a sequence or a group that is in front of them or any of the other players, they may do so. For example: if another player had a sequence consisting of A, 2, and 3 of hearts in front of them, the player would be able to add any of the following: K of hearts, 4 of hearts, and so on, thereby continuing the sequence in either direction. Also if a player has 3 of a kind, one of which continues another sequence on the field then another player may also continue off that card. For example: if a player had a 3, 4, and 5 of hearts and another player had a three of a kind with 6, then another player may continue the sequence off the player with 6.


Finally, after any melds or lay offs, the player must discard a single card to the discard pile, face up. The only condition is that it not be the card that they drew from the discard pile on the same turn. They may, however, return it on the next turn. In addition, if they drew from the stock instead of the discard pile, they are allowed to return that card in the same turn. In this way, the discard pile changes every turn.

The End of the Stock

If, while playing, the stock runs out, the next player may choose to draw from the discard pile or to turn the discard pile over to form a new stock. The discard pile is not shuffled in the process. After forming the new stock, the top card is drawn to form the new discard pile, just like after the deal. You can call rummy if a point is discarded into the discard pile. You cannot however call rummy if the card becomes a point while in the discard pile.

Going Out

When a player has gotten rid of all of their cards, they win the hand. There are two variations. Either the player must discard the last remaining card in their hand on the last turn, or they need not. Playing with this rule makes ending a hand slightly more difficult.

For example, if a player has only the 7 of diamonds and 8 of diamonds left in their hand, and they draw the 9 of diamonds (forming a sequence), then whether they win the hand or not depends on if they are playing the discard rule variation. If they are playing this variation, they can not win the hand at this point, because they have to finish the turn by discarding one of the three cards in their hand, causing them to no longer have a sequence. However, if the player is allowed to lay off this sequence without a final discard, then the game ends when the player lays down the sequence..And a player can lay down cards afterwards.

Declaring Rummy

If a player is able to meld all of their cards at once, they may say "Rummy" on their turn and go out. To declare Rummy, a player must not have melded or laid off any cards prior during the hand. If playing with the discard rule, they must also discard after melding. If a player goes rummy when a card can be played, that player is out for that turn. Game players are still in game but hand goes dead. Playing for Rummy is more risky, but it carries the reward of double the score. Each player must wait until their second turn to go out. If there is a rummy lying in the pile, the player must then pick up the entire pile.


After a player goes out, the hand ends, and the players count up their cards. Any cards left in each player's hand are counted up and added to the winner's score. Aces count as 15, face cards and 10s count as 10, and the rest are worth 5. If a player has declared Rummy, then this score is doubled. The player that goes out first receives a 25 point bonus. The other players must deduct the points in their hand from the points they have accumulated throughout the game.

Another variation is that face cards count as 10; three aces count as 15 each; a run of ace, king, queen, the ace is 15; a run of ace, two, three, the ace is 5; and the rest are worth 5 each. Any cards left in each player's hand are counted up and subtracted from their score on the table. You cannot count Jokers or Wild Cards during the scoring.

Variations of basic Rummy

In some instances, jokers are used, for example it has been played with the rule if you discard a joker you miss some turns, missing two turns for discarding the red joker and 5 turns for discarding the black joker. This becomes difficult when it is sometimes unavoidable to pick up a joker and keeping it will prevent you from creating a fully melding hand.

In another variation, discards are placed so that all the cards are visible. At the beginning of his or her turn, a player may take any card from the discard pile, so long as he or she also picks up all the cards that are on top of it, and the last card picked up is played immediately. If only picking up the top card, the player must keep it and discard a different card from their hand.

In a variation called "Block Rummy", players do not continue after going through the pack once - if no players are out, they all lose the points in their hands after the pack has been gone through once. Round the Corner Rummy is a variant where melds can be made in the following way: Queen-King-Ace-Two, i.e. it is possible to put an ace in a run after a King.

Variants of Rummy

Simple variations for children

Children's Rummy or Ruckus is played by young children; each player is dealt 7 cards. Players immediately put down all cards of the same value (example, two 6's or three Kings) face up. If another person has a card of that value, they can put it down on the pile and take the pile to their part of the table. All players do this at the same time. Once all play has stopped, the dealer hands out new cards, and the pile building and taking is repeated until all cards have been dealt. The player with the most cards in piles at the end wins. Commercial versions of this game exist.[2]

Other variations of Children's Rummy include Safari Pals packs which have cards arranged in sets of animals. When playing with this pack, melds can be formed either by matching sets or by arranging animal cards together which share a behaviour or habitat. For example a meld may be formed with the crocodile, flamingo and kingfisher cards because they all live near fresh water.

Related card games

There are a large number of games derived from Rummy. Although in North America the word "Rummy" is often used as a stand-in for the specific game "Gin Rummy", the term is applicable to a large family of games, including Canasta and Mahjong and rummikub. Some play with jokers using them as wild cards. They can be used in sets or runs but can not be replaced when 'melded'. Nor can you lay off a card to replace it by you or your opponent.


  1. ^ Parlett, David (1978). The Penguin Book of Card Games. ISBN 9780141037875. 
  2. ^ Ruckus: Our Current Favorite Family Card Game

External links

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