How to Play Rummy

Rummy is the world's most exciting card game. Luckily, rummy is also really easy to play. While there are many variations of rummy and each variation has slightly different rules, the basic rules and customs of rummy remain the same. If you want to learn how to play rummy, just read on and enjoy the card game at its finest.

We have broken down the different rules of the game of rummy to make it easy for you to understand. Before you begin, make sure that you fully understand what a standard deck of playing cards consists of. It will help you understand all the rules and gameplay faster.

How to Play Rummy

A deck of playing card

A standard deck of cards has 52 cards in total (excluding Jokers which are supernumerary). These 52 cards are split into four different suits of 13 cards each. The suits are clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. The 13 cards in each suit are arranged in different ranks including an Ace, a King, a Queen, a Jack and nine numerals of pip cards from 2 to 10.

Number of players

Most forms of rummy need 2 to 6 players. However, in 6 players rummy games two deck of cards are used.

Dealing

Dealing is simply the distribution of cards to the players. The players sit in a circle or near-circle seating arrangement so that everyone has a good view of the table and the cards lying on it. The game starts with a well-shuffled deck. Depending on the variant of rummy, a certain number of cards are dealt to each player. For example, in Indian rummy, each player is dealt 13 cards. The undealt cards are kept face down on the table. This pile is known as the stock pile. The cards that are discarded by the players during the game are kept next to the stock pile. This pile of discarded cards is called the discard pile.

Melding

Once the cards are dealt, each player’s objective becomes to arrange their cards in melds. This process of arranging the cards in melds is called Melding. A meld can be of two types, as follows:

  • 1. Set – An arrangement of three or more cards of the same rank. For example, 4♥ 4♦ 4♠.
  • 2. Sequence or Run – An arrangement of three or more consecutive ranks of the same suit. For example, J♣ Q♣ K♣ or 7♥ 8♥ 9♥ 10♥. A sequence may be pure (three or more consecutive cards of the same suit) or impure (three or more consecutive cards of the same suit including a Joker card).

For games which allow a wildcard (or Joker), it may be used to represent any of the cards in the meld and the meld will be considered valid.

Gameplay

After the players have received their hand of cards, they try to create melds. Each player, in turn, picks up a fresh card from the stock pile and sheds one of his cards to the discard pile. This continues until one of the players calls for a show.

Show

A player may call for a show of cards as soon as he has arranged his hand into at least two melds – one pure sequence and one more arrangement out of a pure sequence or an impure sequence. In case of more than 2 melds, the 3rd and 4th can be any of these – pure sequence, impure sequence or a set.
Once a show is called for (usually by the player calling out ‘Rummy’), the cards are validated. The cards that do not form a meld are called deadweight.

Scoring

Scoring in rummy involves adding up the points of the cards in the invalid melds.

Calculation of points

Different variants of rummy have different scoring rules. However, the following is how the scoring happens in Indian rummy.

  • Ace, King, Queen, Jack – 10 points each
  • Joker – 0 points
  • Numerical cards – Same points as face value

What is a drop?

If a player decides to leave a game before it ends, it’s called a Drop. For each drop, the player loses points as follows:

  • 1st drop – 20 points
  • Middle drop – 40 points
  • Last drop – 80 points

Declaring the winner

With each game, a score is added to the tally of each player. Usually, the games continue until one of the players reaches a pre-decided target score.

Variants of rummy

As mentioned earlier, there are many popular variants of this game. Some of these are:

  • Indian rummy (13 cards rummy with further sub-variants namely Points Rummy, Pool Rummy and Deal Rummy)
  • Rummy 500
  • Gin Rummy
  • 21 Cards rummy or Indian Marriage
  • Canasta
  • Rummikubh
  • Oklahoma Rummy
  • Kalooki Rummy
  • Contract Rummy

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