How To Play Rummy: Basic Rules & Gameplay

Rummy Rules

Are you eager to learn how to play gin rummy or another rummy card game? Rummy has a long history, like poker and blackjack. In fact, gin rummy dates back over a century.

Learning how to play rummy may seem as challenging as winning the World Series of Gin Rummy. Don’t worry. Knowing the fundamentals of this classic card game may help you make better decisions when playing rummy.

Are you trying to find a reliable, secure, and convenient sportsbook?, we aim to help make your online betting more fun and effective. This guide explains rummy’s objective, how to play rummy, card combinations, and rummy’s point-scoring system.

We also explain rummy game rules, including rummy terms, wild cards, and house rules. Furthermore, we’ll share rummy variations and the history of the card game.

How to Play Rummy Card Games

The original rummy is a card game that people often play with two standard decks of cards with two jokers.

A player wins the card game by making a correct declaration after selecting and discarding cards. The declaration is that a player has played all their cards.

This process involves two stacks of cards, including a discard pile and a stock or draw pile. Players cannot see the cards they’re selecting from the closed deck.

Meanwhile, the other deck is an open deck. The players form this deck by discarding cards.

The winner of a rummy card game must group cards into correct sequences and sets.

The Main Objectives of Rummy

In rummy, the main object of the game is arranging your playing cards in proper sets and sequences. You can win the game by creating at least two sequences.

One sequence must be a “pure sequence.” The other combinations can be any other valid set or sequence.

Possible Card Combinations in Rummy

How to Construct Sequences

In rummy games, a sequence consists of at least three consecutive cards within the same suit. Players can form two kinds of sequences: a pure and impure sequence.

You need one or more pure sequences to win a rummy game.

Pure Sequence

This sequence includes at least three cards with the same suit, placed in consecutive order. A player cannot use a wild or joker card to create a pure sequence.

Here’s an example of a pure sequence:

3-hearts, 4-hearts, 5-hearts, 6-hearts

Impure Sequence

This series is a group of at least three cards with the same suit. You can use one or more joker cards.

Here’s an example of an impure sequence:

6-diamonds, 7-diamonds, queen-spades, 9-diamonds

In this situation, the queen of spades is used as a wild joker. It replaces the eight of diamonds to create an impure sequence.

How to Construct Sets

A set refers to a group of at least three cards with the same card values but different suits. You can use wild cards and jokers to form sets.

Here’s an example of a set:

King-hearts, king-clubs, king-spades

In this set, the kings are of different suits, forming a valid set.

Note that in rummy, you cannot utilize two or more cards with the same suit that are not in sequence. That’s known as an “invalid declaration.”

In addition, a set can have more than four cards. Suppose you have a four-card set, then an additional joker. That’s a 5-card valid set.

Here’s an example of an invalid set:

Queen-hearts, queen-hearts, queen-spades

The set includes two queens with the same suit, invaliding the set.

How Players Calculate Points in Rummy

Let’s review how players conduct points calculations when playing online rummy card games, for instance.

Card Values

High value-cards (king, queen, jack): 10 points

Other cards: The point value is the same as the face value. For example, the two of hearts is two points.

Aces: Aces usually are worth one point, although they may also be worth 11 points.

Wild cards and joker: 0 points

Losing Player Points

A player doesn’t have two sequences (including pure sequence): The value of all cards is totaled and capped at 80 points.

Wrong declaration: 80-point loss

First drop: A first drop involves leaving the game during your first turn. It’s a 20-point loss.

Middle drop: A middle drop involves missing any turn after your first turn. It’s a 40-point loss.

Consecutive misses: A miss involves not completing your turn within the allotted time. It’s classified as a middle drop (40-point loss).

Leave table: If a player leaves the rummy table after picking from the closed deck, it’s classified as a middle drop. However, if a player hasn’t chosen any cards, it’s classified as a first drop.

Basic Rummy Rules

Common Terms Used In Rummy Rules

Rummy Table

This is a table where people play the game of rummy. The number of players at each rummy table can range from two to six players.


These are face-up card combinations. A set is a group of playing cards of the same rank. Meanwhile, a sequence is a series of cards of the same suit.

Going Out

This term refers to getting rid of all your cards. You win the game by going out.

Laying Off

Players play a particular card or cards that fit a meld already on the table.

Joker and Wild Cards

Each rummy deck includes a printed joker and a wild card that the dealer randomly selects at the beginning of a game before the first player plays.

Jokers and wild cards can both form sequences and sets. They can replace the desired number when creating groups of cards.

Draw and Discard

Players are typically dealt 13 cards in rummy games. They can draw one card from two stacks. After a player draws a card from the top of the discard pile or stockpile, they must get rid of one card through “discarding.”

Card Sorting

This process happens at the beginning of a rummy game to arrange the cards.


This process involves leaving the game table before the rummy game ends. Players lose points.

Invalid Declaration

This event occurs when a player makes invalid sequences and sets during a rummy game. A player automatically loses the game when making invalid declarations.

Rummy Card Game Preparation

Preparing for a rummy game is relatively easy. No special board is needed, unlike in a cribbage card game. All that’s required to play rummy is one or two card decks.

You’ll additionally need a pen and paper to keep score. Another option is to play each hand independently.

A maximum of eight people can play rummy. However, you’ll need more than two decks for games with over six players.

Using Jokers and Wild Cards

You can add jokers to the deck to play rummy with wild cards. Additionally, you can make another number wild, such as 2s.

A wild card can substitute for another card. For example, a joker can stand in for a king of clubs. Another player can then pick up the joker and use it elsewhere.

One strategy is to avoid playing wild cards in combinations immediately.

Optional House Rules

Here are some optional rules that players should discuss before the first deal commences:

Multiple Melds

Sometimes players are allowed to lay down an unlimited number of melds in a player’s turn.

Another house rule is giving a player a bonus for going out within a single turn.

Laying Off

One house rule is that you must first lay down one meld, then you can lay off cards on the melds from players’ hands.

Ace (High or Low)

Some players allow aces to be low or high cards. Here’s an example of an ace as a low card: A-2-3. Meanwhile, you can also use the ace as a high card: Q-K-A.

Last Discard

This rule requires you to go out by discarding your last card. So, you cannot meld all your cards since you wouldn’t have a card to discard.

End of the Stock

Suppose the stockpile has run out, and the next player doesn't want the first card or others in the discard pile. The dealer then shuffles the discard pile and reuses it as a new stockpile.


Another house rule is that instead of the winner scoring points like in basic rummy, the game’s losers score penalty points based on the cards in their hands.

Another option is for losing players to “pay” the winner based on the number of points in their hands. The figure is the winner’s score minus their score.

This scoring option is appropriate when playing rummy for money.

At, you can experience more flexibility and see our house rules through our Android app and iOS app.

Rummy Gameplay Example

Suppose the deck has been dealt and the player to the left of the dealer plays first. A king of hearts is in the discard pile. Here’s your hand:

  • King of spades
  • 5, 6, 7 of diamonds
  • 3, 9, jack of hearts

Afterward, these events occur:

  • A player places a set of three 3s on the table as the first meld.
  • You draw a king of diamonds.
  • You place a sequence of diamonds on the table, lay off a three of hearts on an existing meld, and discard the jack of hearts.
  • A player places a meld of 9s.
  • You draw a king of hearts, place a meld of kings, and discard the nine of hearts.
  • You win the game.

Popular Rummy Variations

Here are some of the primary rummy variations:

Rummy 500/500 Rum: A player wins by reaching 500 points. Losing players tally points after each hand. This figure is subtracted from a player’s melds.

Knock Rummy: Players keep their rummy hands hidden until the end of the game when they go out.

Indian rummy: 13-card game with features of Rummy 500 and Gin Rummy.

Queen City Rum: Players receive seven cards and must play the entire hand at one time.

Contract Rummy: Players must make a particular meld before making other melds.

Continental Rummy: Players are limited to making particular melds.

Boat House Rum: Here are some key features:

  • Players can take two top cards from the stock or discard pile during a player’s first turn.
  • Aces are worth 11 points.
  • If a player lays down all their cards in the first round, other players pay the winner double points.

Arlington: Jokers and 2s are wild, and a different scoring system is used.

Quick Tips to Help You Win Rummy Card Games

Here are some helpful tips for rummy games:

  • Form a pure sequence at the start of the game
  • Discard high-value cards, such as face cards, and replace them with wild cards or a joker
  • Minimize the number of cards picked from the discard pile
  • Look for “smart cards.” For example, a seven works with a five and six or eight and nine of the same suit.
  • Try using jokers and wild cards instead of holding them among your remaining cards
  • Check and recheck your cards before making a declaration

The History of Rummy

The origins of rummy-styled games trace back to a Chinese game (Khanhoo) or a Mexican game (Conquian). Khanhoo dates back to the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s. This game contains the foundation of strategic card matching.

Gin rummy was a trendy casino game before Texas Hold’em skyrocketed in popularity.

This rummy variation dates back to 1909 and seems to be a combination of Conquian and Knock Rummy. In Gin Rummy, players lay down their sets and sequences when preparing to end the round.

Canasta is another card game in the rummy family.