There are many variations of the card game 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 A (low) to K (high).
Rummy can be played to a certain score, or to a fixed number of deals.
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).
In two player rummy, each player gets ten (10) 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. A single card is then drawn and placed face up next to the stock.
This is called the discard pile.
In three or four player games, seven (7) cards are dealt to each player.
Five or six players may also play, in which case each player receives six (6) cards.
Play begins with the player on the dealer's
left and proceeds clockwise. Each player draws a card from the stock or the discard pile. The player may then meld or lay
off, which are both optional, before discarding.
If a player has three
or more 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. Likewise, if they have at least three of the same value, they may meld a group (also called a set or a book).
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.
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. For example: if another player had a sequence
consisting of 3, 4, and 5 of hearts in front of them, the player would be able to add any of the following: 2 of hearts, ace
of hearts, 6 of hearts, and so on, thereby continuing the sequence. Also if a player has 3 of a kind, one of which continues
another sequence on the field then another player may also continue off of that card. For example: if a player had a 3, 4,
and 5 of hearts and another player had a three of a kind with 6, then another player may continue the sequence off of the
player with 6.
Finally, after any melds or lay offs, the player must discard a single
card to the discard pile, face up. The only condition is that it not be the card that they drew from the discard pile on the
same turn. They may, however, return it on the next turn. In addition, if they drew from the stock instead of the discard
pile, they are allowed to return that card in the same turn. In this way, the discard pile changes every turn.
If the player discards (last card in hand, or even by mistake) and
leaves a sequence on the discard pile, or on the board it is considered a rummy on the board, and any of the players,including
the player that discarded can call it, and pick up only that sequence.
The End of 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.
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 had the 7 and 9 of diamonds, and they drew
the 8 of diamonds (forming a sequence), then they would not be able to go out if playing with the discard rule variation,
because after playing the 7-8-9 sequence, they would not have a card left to discard. A variant allows one to play the sequence
on one turn without discarding, and on the next turn, they may draw a card from the draw pile and discard it immediately to
go out, if it cannot be played off of another meld.
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. Playing for Rummy is more risky,
but it carries the reward of double the score.
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. Aces count as one, face cards
count as 10, and the rest have their face value. If a player has declared Rummy, then this score is doubled.
Another variation is that face cards count as 10; three aces count
as 15 each; a run of ace, king, queen, the ace is 15; a run of ace, two, three, the ace is 5, the rest are worth 5 each. Any
cards left in each player's hand are counted up and subtracted from their score on the table.
As for variations to the basic game, the most important is whether
or not a player must discard on going out.
In some instances, jokers have been involved to spice up the game,
for example it has been played with the rule if you discard a joker you miss some turns, missing two turns for discarding
the red joker and 5 turns for discarding the black joker. This becomes difficult when it is sometimes unavoidable to pick
up a joker and keeping it will prevent you from creating a fully melding hand.
Watching which cards are discarded is important to knowing what kind
of hand your opponent may have. As cards are melded, the picture becomes clearer. A player may choose not to discard a card
that might be advantageous to their opponent. Likewise, a player may decide to discard something that would be misleading
to how their opponent might view their hand.
If a player is dealt a good hand, they may consider going for Rummy.
This is risky, however. If another player is able to go out first, then the player trying for Rummy will add a punishing lead
to the winner's score.