A set of three cards in the game Kalooki
|Cards||2-4 packs plus jokers|
|Playing time||2-6 hours.|
Kalooki (Jamaican Rummy) or Kaluki, is a version of Contract Rummy which is very popular in Jamaica. A version called "Super Kalooki" is played in tournaments while a version called "Baby Kalooki" is often played with children or for purposes of teaching the game. There are a few variations of the game described in books and on the internet. This article gives the basic accepted tournament rules and some popular home variations.
Note that there is another popular game also called "Kalooki", sometimes referred to as "Kalooki 40"
Players and cards
There are usually three to eight players; tournaments are played with four players at each table. Two or more packs of cards are used, depending on the number of players.
|No. of Players||No. of Packs||No. of Jokers|
The object of the game is to go out by laying down all of your cards. The point values of the cards left in a player's hand when someone goes out are:
|King, Queen, Jack||10|
|2 to 10||face value|
A "3" is a set of three or more cards of the same rank, such as 5-5-5 or K-K-K-K-K. The suits of the cards do not matter and duplicates are allowed.
A "4" is a run of four or more consecutive cards in the same suit, such as spade7-spade8-spade9-spade10-spadeJ. Aces can be high or low, regardless of their point value, but they cannot be in the middle of a run, so A-2-3-4 and J-Q-K-A are valid, but Q-K-A-2-3 is not.
When more than one "4" is put down by one player, they must be of different suits, and when more than one "3" is put down by one player, they must be of different ranks. In games where three sets of "4" are required a full suit can be used to substitute.
Jokers can be used as wild cards to substitute for any card with the following restrictions:
- In a "4" jokers cannot be used for consecutive cards - so club9-Joker-clubJ-Joker is OK but club9-Joker-Joker-clubQ is not.
- In a "3" there must be at least two genuine (non-joker) cards, so 4-4-Joker and 7-7-Joker-Joker are OK, but 9-Joker-Joker is not.
Jokers cannot be removed from their set. However, when a joker is used in a "4" it can be moved up, in that set, by the holder of the real card that it represents (see tacking below), provided that two jokers do not end up side by side. Once a joker moves as far up in a set as it can go it can no longer move. A player may not add jokers to sets laid by other players. They may only place jokers on their own sets.
Deal and contracts
Players take turns to deal the cards. Nine hands (deals) make up a game, and the winner is the player who has the lowest cumulative score at the end of the game. The cards are dealt out one at a time. The number of cards dealt to each player depends on the hand being played as shown in the table below. After all players have been dealt their cards, the next card is turned face up to start the discards pile, and the remaining undealt cards are stacked face down beside it to form the stock.
In each hand, there is a contract or quota of 3s and 4s that a player must lay down:
|Hand No.||Cards dealt||Contract|
|1||9||3, 3, 3|
|2||10||3, 3, 4|
|3||11||3, 4, 4|
|4||12||4, 4, 4|
|5||12||3, 3, 3, 3|
|6||13||3, 3, 3, 4|
|7||14||3, 3, 4, 4 (colloquially called "half and half")|
|8||15||3, 4, 4, 4|
|9||16||4, 4, 4, 4|
Some players deal 12 cards each in the first three hands, rather than 9, 10 and 11. In some circles hands 1-4 are referred to as the Kalooki game while hands 5-9 are referred to as Super Kalooki. Most people play Kalooki as hands 1-9.
Baby Kalooki hands and contracts are:
|Hand No.||Cards dealt||Contract|
Some players deal 8 cards for each hand of Baby Kalooki.
The player to the dealer's left begins and the turn to play passes clockwise. A player's turn consists of:
- 1. The pluck: drawing one card from the top card of the face-down stock or the top of the discard pile;
- 2. The lay: optionally laying down some cards. The first lay must be the complete contract for the game, then the player is free to add cards to any of the sets laid on the table. When the player has finished their lay, or if they are not able to lay, they move on to;
- 3. The discard: discarding any one card (other than a joker) face up on the discard pile.
If you have not yet laid down any cards, and you want to take a card discarded by another player when it is not your turn to play next, you can call the card by saying (or shouting) "CALL". The player whose turn it is to play has two options:
- 1. Allow the call. The player whose turn it is gives the top discard to the player who called it. The calling player takes the discard and must also draw one penalty card from the stock, but cannot lay down any cards or discard at this time. The caller will from now on have two extra cards in their hand. The play then reverts to the player whose turn was interrupted by the call, who must now draw from the stock, and continue the turn in the usual way.
- 2. Refuse the call. If the player whose turn it is has not yet laid down, they have the right to take the discard for themselves, rather than giving it to the caller and drawing from the stock; the call then has no effect.
Calling is subject to the following rules:
- If several people try to call the same card, the person who calls first gets the card, assuming that the person whose turn it is allows the call. The person whose turn it is, is responsible to determine who called first.
- No one can call a card before it reaches the table.
- Once a player plucks from the stock the previously discarded card is "dead" and cannot be called.
- Each player is allowed a maximum of three calls per hand (deal). Since each call adds two cards to a player's hand, you can check how many calls you have made by counting the cards in your hand.
- A player who has laid down cards can no longer call.
The first cards you lay down must satisfy the contract for the game being played. There is no point requirement as in some other versions of Rummy. You place these cards face up in front of you, where they stay for the rest of the hand. If there are other sets on the table you may tack on cards as appropriate (see tacking below) and then discard as usual.
A player who has laid down is no longer allowed to take cards from the discard pile. When you have laid down you can no longer call for a discard, and in your turn you must draw from the stock. If another player calls in your turn, you must allow the call, unless you have already cleared the stock with your pluck, in which case the discarded card is dead.
After laying down the contracted sets, you are allowed to lay down additional appropriate cards to any of the sets laid on the table, in the same turn, or in later turns of the same hand. This is called tacking on or laying off. Further cards of the same rank can be tacked onto a "3". A "4" can be extended by tacking on the next higher or lower card in sequence. When the suit is complete no further tacking is possible.
Jokers can only be tacked on a player's own laid sets.
No player may tack cards until they have laid their contract.
Jokers cannot be discarded, but apart from that there is no restriction on what card you may discard from your hand at the end of your turn. It is legal to discard a card that could be tacked onto a set on the table, and it is legal to discard the same card that you just picked up, if you find it is in your interest to do so.
It sometimes happens that the entire stock is used up before any player has gone out. If this happens, the discard pile, except for its top card, is reshuffled and placed face down to form a new stock. Play continues as before. If the stock runs out a second time, which may happen if players are holding back the key cards needed by others to lay down their contracts, the play ends with no score. All the cards are thrown in, shuffled and dealt again by the same dealer and the play is restarted (playing for the same contract).
As soon as a player goes out by getting rid of all their cards, the hand ends. The other players count the total value of the cards they have in their hands (see above) and add the result to their cumulative point total.
If the first player laying manages to go out on the same turn that they first lay down cards, this is known as bending the table or down and out, and the other players score double points for that game, known as being doubled up.
At the end of nine hands, the player who has the lowest cumulative score is the winner.
It sometimes happens that a player will carelessly, or calculatingly, call more than three times in one hand. This can be verified by counting the cards that the player is holding. Another player may challenge this over-caller, before the over-caller begins their play to lay their cards. If over-calling is discovered the player is given 50 points for each over-call, or alternatively is not permitted to lay until all the other players have laid their hands. If the challenger is wrong they receive a 50 point penalty. Once a player has begun to lay their cards they cannot be challenged for an over-call.
If a player lays incorrectly and is discovered before their discard, they are required to pick up the hand and take a 50 point penalty, unless they are able to rearrange the hand successfully to complete the contract. If an incorrect lay is discovered after the discard it remains and there is no penalty.
If a player fails to begin their play with a pluck or end their play with a discard, including when laying their hand, there is a 50 point penalty.
Some other infractions which may incur 50 point penalties (according to house rules):
- Resting cards on the table which should still be in hand
- Exposing cards when not laying (accidentally or deliberately)
- Attempting to discard a joker
If the dealer of a hand can successfully cut exactly the correct number of cards to be dealt for that hand, they receive a -50 point bonus.