Rummy for Beginners and Rules of the Game

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Rummy falls into the category of card games where the aim is to continually improve the hand that you get dealt, in order to win each round.

The origin of rummy cannot be pinpointed with certainty, although it is widely believed that the roots of the game lie in the ancient Chinese game of kahnu.   The rules of kahnu were laid out in a guidebook authorised by emperor Kao Tsung in 1130 AD, as a guide to his subjects.

Kanu, in turn, has had a strong influence on the development of the popular Mexican game conquian, which is today regarded by most games scholars as the ancestral blueprint for all modern rummy games. The rummy principle of discarding and drawing with a view to melding appears in Chinese card games as early as the 18th century.

The Objectives of a Rummy Game

The primary objective of rummy is to meld, or amalgamate your cards according to two combination types:

  • Books/sets – three or four same rank cards. Should you be using two decks, your set can include two identical cards of the same suit and rank.
  • Runs – Consecutive sequences of three or more same suit cards

Some examples of winning card combinations:

  • Three kings from different suits
  • Three or four consecutive number cards of the same suit (e.g. A, 2, 3 of spades or 7, 8, 9, 10 of clover)
  • The same number across four different suits

The first player who creates combinations from his entire hand, with one remaining card to discard, is the winner.

How to Play Rummy?

Here are the four easy steps to playing rummy:

  1. Each player gets a certain number of cards, to begin with, depending on the number of players partaking in the game. With two to four players, each player collects ten cards (a two-player game can also be played with seven cards instead of ten). For a five-player game, each player receives six cards, and for six or more players, each player gets seven cards gathered from two decks.
  2. A designated dealer and a scorer should be nominated at the beginning of the game. Following this, the dealer will deal out the cards to each player and place the remaining undealt cards face-down on the table as the stock. The top card of the stock is then placed facing upwards next to the pile, as the first discarded card.
  3. The game is played clockwise, commencing on the dealer’s left side. The first player can either pick up a card from the top of the stack or the discard pile. If the player can generate combinations from some or all of their cards, they can do so now.  If not, one card is to be discarded face-up onto the discard pile.
  4. The next player can choose the new card from the stock or the discard pile. The player can then meld some or all of their cards into combinations. The play continues clockwise around the table.  When the cards from the stock run out, the discard pile is shuffled and reassigned as the new stock.      

Additional Rummy Moves and Tips

Here are some additional tips to better your chances of winning:

  • Picking up and discarding a card from the discard pile to the stock is not allowed.
  • If you don’t like the card that you got from the stock, don’t discard it immediately. Put it amongst your cards and then throw it away so that you don’t give away visual cues that you don’t need a new card.
  • If you erroneously pick up two cards from the stock and see both of them, place the bottom one back onto the stock. The next player has the right to either keep this card when they draw or to discard it by putting it into the middle of the stock and then drawing a fresh one.

Using Wild Cards in Rummy

You can also play rummy by making use of joker cards.  The joker substitutes any missing card that you might need within a set.  So, for example, if a combination that includes a joker standing in for the queen of hearts is placed on the table, the next player can put in the queen of hearts and redeploy the joker for use elsewhere.

Rummy is a straightforward game to grasp and can be enjoyed by all age groups.  It is a social game that can be played in a larger group or a more intimate one-on-one setup.  Give it a shot and see where your luck takes you.