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|Cards||(52) Varies on game type|
|Playing time||15 min.|
|Conquian, mahjong, desmoche, marriage|
Rummy is a group of matching-card games notable for similar gameplay based on 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). If a player discards a card, making a run in the discard pile, it may not be taken up without taking all cards below the top one.
There are two common theories about the origin of Rummy, attributing its origins in either Mexico or China in the nineteenth century. 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 is ancestral to all rummy games, and that Conquian is the equivalent of the Chinese game Khanhoo. 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.
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. 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
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.
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 wild cards are used, or . 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.or . A run consists of at least three consecutive cards of the same suit or . 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: or, if multiple decks or
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 each player keeps their hand hidden until the show. Some variations permit picking up the entire discard pile. A few variations permit stealing cards from their opponents melds.
In most variations a player must put all of their cards into at least two melds (though they may be allowed to shed one card to the discard pile before showing). Once the player has melded all their cards they reveal their entire hand and the player submits their hand to validation. All other players reveal their melds and deadweight. The action of submitting the cards is called Showing.
After a successful show, the winner or all players score their hand. 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 their unmelded cards total more than their melded ones. Usually play continues until one player passes a threshold, for example 1,000 points.
There are many variations of the card game. Basic rummy is also called sai rummy. Another type is called Sanka rummy. The version of rummy prevalent in India is called Indian 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. All rummy games are about card-melding, i.e., forming valid combinations of sequences and/or sets. Players pick and discard a card on their turns to achieve the goal. The one who successfully melds his/her cards before all others, is the winner in that game of rummy.
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).
The number of cards dealt depends on the number of players. If there are two players, each player gets ten cards. 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.
|Number of players||Number of cards dealt|
|2 players||10 cards|
|3 or 4 players||7 cards|
|5 or 6 players||6 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.
Play begins with the player on the dealer's left and proceeds clockwise. On their turn, each player draws the top card from the stock or the discard pile. The player may then meld or lay off, which are both optional, before discarding a single card to the top of the discard pile to end their turn.
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). Aces can be played as high or low or both, for example, and are legal. 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. If a run lies in the discard pile, such as 2-3-4, you cannot call rummy without taking all cards below the top card of said run.
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. Another variation is that they cannot "lay off" unless they have already played a set of 3 or a run. For example: if another player had a sequence consisting ofin front of them, the player would be able to add the , or , and so on, thereby continuing the sequence. Some variations allow players to play the and wrap around.
Finally, after any melds or lay offs, the player must discard a single card to the discard pile, face up. If the player drew from the discard pile instead of the stock on this turn, they may not replace the same card on top of the discard pile but must discard a different card.
Exhausting 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. 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.
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 onlyleft in their hand, and they draw (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. A player may win if rummy is discarded as the last card. You may also pick up from the discard pile and discard only if it is with a different card. The player that goes out first gets an extra 10 points.
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 the 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 who called "rummy" can play that card while the player who laid the rummy must then draw 2 cards from the stock pile or pick up the entire discarded pile. In a closed discard joker, A player can Declare the card at his first attempt itself. Here the point system follows the same as above.
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. The face cards count as 10 each, number cards as their face value, and aces as one. There are many variations. Common ones include counting an ace as 11 or 15.
In some instances, jokers are used as wildcards and can represent any card value when melding. They can be used in sets or runs but can not 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 his or her turn, a player may take any card from the discard pile, so long as they also pick 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 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 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, mahjong and rummikub.
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.
In contract rummy, players are either assigned specific objectives (known or unknown to the other players) or decides 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.
In these games, players play until they have a minimal number of points or cards in their unmelded hand.
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.
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 s/he has a valid hand. In some variations, the other players get one final turn before the reveal.
Variations with non-Western cards or special equipment
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.
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.
- Phase 10
- Safari Pals
There are two different kinds of Chinese decks used for rummy-like games. The rules of each variation vary greatly.
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.
- "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.
- Parlett, David (1978). The Penguin Book of Card Games. ISBN 978-0-14-103787-5.
- "Parlett's Historic Card Games: Gin Rummy – David Parlett".
- "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.
- "Basic Rummy Guide".
- "Rules of Rummy". Pagat. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- McLeod, John (2016-11-03). "Rules of Card Games: Tripoli". www.pagat.com. Retrieved 2019-12-31.