Rummy is a group of games related by the feature of matching cards of the same rank or sequence and same suit. The basic goal in any form of rummy is to build melds which can be either sets (three or four of a kind of the same rank) or runs (three or more sequential cards of the same suit) and either be first to go out or to amass more points than the opposition.

Age rangeAll
CardsVaries with game type
DeckAny pattern
Playing time15 min.
Related games

Origin edit

There are two common theories about the origin of Rummy, attributing its origins in either Mexico or China in the nineteenth century.[1] The first is that it originated in Mexico around the 1890s in a game described as Conquian in R.F. Foster's book Foster's Complete Hoyle, which was played with a 40 card Spanish deck and had melding mechanics. The second is that Rummy originated in Asia, and that Rummy was the result of a Mahjongg variant named Kun P'ai that was Westernized as Khanhoo by W.H. Wilkinson in 1891.

Games scholar David Parlett combines these two theories, and proposes that the Mexican game of Conquian, first attested in 1852,[2] is ancestral to all rummy games, and that Conquian is the equivalent of the Chinese game Khanhoo.[3] The rummy principle of drawing and discarding with a view to melding appears in Chinese card games at least in the early 19th century, and perhaps as early as the 18th century.[4]

Rummy variations like Gin and Canasta became popular in the twentieth century. Rummy games are popular in India, and it is likely that Indian rummy is an extension of gin rummy and 500 rum, which originated from the United States.

Several theories about the origin of the name "rummy" exist.[5] Some attribute it to the British slang word rum, meaning odd, strange, or queer. Others say the origin lies in the game Rum Poker, or in the popular liquor of the same name.

General features of rummy-style games edit

Deal edit

Depending on the variation, each player receives a certain number of cards from either a standard deck of 52 cards, more than one deck or a special deck of cards used for specific games. The un-dealt cards are placed in a face down stack in the middle, which is known as the stock. In most variations, a single card is turned face up next to the stock where players discard or shed cards, and this is known as the discard pile. In 10 Cards Rummy, which is often played with two, three or four players, each player gets ten cards. In rummy games with five players, each player is given six cards. In 500 Rummy, each player is given seven cards. In Indian Rummy, 13 cards are dealt to each player.

Melds edit

A meld can either be a set (also known as a book) or a run. A set consists of at least three cards of the same rank, for example 4 4 4 or K K K K. A run consists of at least three consecutive cards of the same suit J Q K or 4 5 6 7. Very few variations allow runs that have mixed suits. In a few variations of rummy, other patterns may be allowed. In some variations the melds (sets and runs) must be 3 or 4 cards, while other variations allow larger melds through the use of longer runs, for example: 8 9 10 J Q or, if multiple decks or wild cards are used, 5 5 5 5 J or Q Q Q J. Wild cards (such as a joker) may be used to represent any card in a meld. The number of wild cards in a meld may be restricted.

Play edit

Depending on the variation of the game, players take turns adding and shedding cards from their hands. There are numerous and quite different ways of doing this though it usually involves picking a card from the stock and discarding a card to the discard pile. In some variations melds are revealed to all players by placing them face up on the table, in other variations players keep their hands hidden until the show. Some variations permit picking up the entire discard pile. A few variations permit stealing cards from their opponents melds.

Show edit

In most variations players must put all their cards into at least two melds (though they may be allowed to shed one card to the discard pile before showing). A player who has melded all cards reveals those still held and submits them for validation. All other players reveal their melds and deadweight. The action of submitting the cards is called Showing.

Scoring edit

After a successful show, the winner or all players score their hands. In most variations numbered cards have certain assigned points and the royal cards (J-Q-K) have assigned points and the A often has a different point value. Scoring often involves each player adding up points in their melded cards (sets and runs) and deducting points from cards that have not been melded. The winner may also receive a bonus for winning. Some special or difficult melds may also give extra points to a hand. A player may have a negative score if unmelded cards total more than melded ones. Usually play continues until one player passes a threshold, for example 1,000 points.

Basic rummy edit

There are many variations of Rummy, but most build on a common set of features found in the basic game, called Basic Rummy or Straight Rummy.[6] The following rules follow Parlett (2008) unless otherwise stated.[7]

Cards edit

Standard packs of 52 cards are used: one is sufficient for two or three players; four to seven may use a twin pack, which may have two different patterns on the card backs. Alternatively four to six players may play with a single pack, but with a reduced number of cards. Recently, double packs of 104 German-suited cards have been produced for the first time in centuries. Jokers are wild.

Deal edit

The first dealer may be chosen by lot. Deal and play are clockwise. The dealer shuffles the pack well and player on the dealer's right may cut. Up to seven may play and receive 10 cards each, provided there are two packs available if four or more play. The cards dealt are summarised in the table below:

Number of players One pack Two packs
2 players 10 cards
3 players 7 or 10 cards 10 cards
4 or 5 players 7 cards 10 cards
6 players 6 cards 10 cards
7 players 10 cards

Starting with eldest hand,[a] cards are dealt clockwise, face down, one at a time. The dealer then turns the next card to start the discard pile and places the rest of the pack, face down, between the players as the stock.

Play edit

Play begins with the player on the dealer's left and proceeds clockwise. In turn, each player draws the top card from the stock or the discard pile. If drawing from the discard pile a player may draw multiple cards. The player will then do either or both of the following:

  • Meld. A player who has three cards of the same suit in a sequence or run, may meld them by laying these cards, face up, on the table. If at least three cards of the same rank are held, they may be melded as a set or group. The original rule was that Aces could only be played low, for example A 2 3. However, it is now common to treat them as high or low, but not both. For example, Q K A is legal but Q K A 2 is not. Melding is optional and as many may be made as are possible on one turn.
  • Lay off. A player may also choose to lay off some cards on an existing meld. This means that a player may add to a sequence or a set on the table, regardless of who initially melded it.

Finally, after making any melds or lay offs, the player must discard a single card to the discard pile, face up. A player who drew the upcard from the discard pile, may not replace the same card on the discard pile, but must discard a different card.

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

Going out. A player may go out by discarding the last remaining card in hand, whether as part of a meld, a lay-off or a discard. If a point that is playable is discarded in attempt to "go out" said discard would be "rummy".[clarification needed]

NOTE: Some players require that the final card in a player's hand be discarded. That is, a player cannot go out by melding or laying off, but must discard the final card.

Example. Anne has 7 8 left in her hand and draws 9, thus forming a sequence. She goes out by melding her sequence and without making a discard. Or supposing Ben has 3 4 K and draws the 5, he may meld the 3 4 5, discard the K and go out. Or if there is a run of 8 9 10 on the table and Charlotte, who has the Q, picks up the J, she may lay off her two cards to the existing meld and go out.

Scoring edit

The player who goes out, wins, and scores as many points as the other have in their hand cards. Court cards score 10 each, Jokers 15 each and numerals score their face value. Aces count as 1 unless they are allowed to be high, in which case they score 11.

Variations edit

Melding with a joker

In some instances, jokers are used as wildcards and can represent any card value when melding.[8] They can be used in sets or runs but cannot be replaced when 'melded', nor can a player lay off a card to replace it by themselves or their opponent. Jokers are not counted during the scoring.

In other variations, such as rummy 500 and treppenrommé, discards are placed so that all the cards are visible. At the beginning of the turn, a player may take any card from the discard pile, so long as all the cards on top of it are also picked up, 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.

In a variation called block or tile 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, also called continuity rummy, is a variant where an ace may be simultaneously high and low to "wrap around" in a run, as in the following meld: Q-K-A-2.

Related games edit

There are a large number of games derived from rummy. Although in North America the word rummy is often used interchangeably for gin rummy, the term is applicable to a large family of games, including canasta, mahjong and rummikub.

Melding family edit

The most basic form where play continues until the stock is exhausted or a player achieves a specific number of points. Different cards (and melds in some games) are worth specific points. In some variations, the first meld must meet minimum point requirements or the final meld must include a discard. Some of these are played for four players in partnerships of two. In most variations, players may extensively add to or even rearrange their cards.

Contract family edit

In contract rummy, players are either assigned specific objectives (known or unknown to the other players) or decide their own objectives and announces them before play begins. Players are awarded and or penalized extra points depending on if they successfully meet their objectives.

Shedding games edit

In these games, players play until they have a minimal number of points or cards in their unmelded hands.

Canasta family edit

Canasta games usually involve partnerships using two or more decks with many wild cards. There are many rules and restrictions on first melds, final melds and taking the deck. Seven or eight of a kinds (canasta) score high.

Knock rummy edit

In knock rummy, players usually reveal their entire hand at the end of the game. In most variations, a player may signal (through knock or a specific kind of discard) that they have a valid hand. In some variations, the other players get one final turn before the reveal.

Variations with non-Western cards or special equipment edit

Rummoli games edit

Rummoli games use Western cards, but require a special board or modified table with various squares with specific cards drawn on them. In each round, players put tokens in the squares. If a player lays down a card matching a square, they collect the tokens therein. Most versions allow multiple players to meld straights in sequence and do not use three- or four-of-a-kinds. Some versions include poker-like elements.

  • Pope Joan
  • Michigan
  • Poch
  • Rummoli
  • Three In One
  • Tripoli or TRIPOLEY (a trademarked version)[9]
  • Michigan Rummy
  • Royal Rummy

Unique cards edit

Several companies produce special card sets which often include special cards not seen in other rummoli variations. Some variations resemble the card game Crazy Eights. Most of these games are suitable for children and Safari Pals is an educational game.

Chinese cards edit

There are two different kinds of Chinese decks used for rummy-like games. The rules of each variation vary greatly.

Tiles edit

Tile rummy games usually include tiles of only three suits along with special tiles unseen in card games. Mahjong, a game with elaborate rules and different scoring systems, is played in East Asia with numerous variations played in different countries. Rummikub and other international tile variations have rules similar to meld and knock rummy.

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ The player to the dealer's left.

References edit

  1. ^ "History of Rummy" in Roya, Will (2021). Card Night: Classic Games, Classic Decks, and the History Behind Them. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 9780762473519.
  2. ^ Leyes Del Territorio de Nuevo Méjico, ("Laws of the Territory of New Mexico") (1852), Stephen Watts Kearny, pp. 285 and 287.
  3. ^ Parlett, David (1978). The Penguin Book of Card Games. ISBN 978-0-14-103787-5.
  4. ^ "Parlett's Historic Card Games: Gin Rummy – David Parlett".
  5. ^ "What's in a name?" in Roya, Will (2021). Card Night: Classic Games, Classic Decks, and the History Behind Them. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 9780762473519.
  6. ^ Rummy at Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  7. ^ Parlett (2008), pp. 490–491.
  8. ^ "Rules of Rummy". Pagat. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  9. ^ McLeod, John (2016-11-03). "Rules of Card Games: Tripoli". Retrieved 2019-12-31.