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Rummy

Updated on April 13, 2012

The card game called Rummy. There exist so many variations to this fun game that it is hard to know the date and place of origin. Some play with ten cards dealt to each player, some with thirteen and some with twenty six! (I don’t know how they manage to hold all those together!)

One of the versions played mostly in Asia is played with at least two packs of cards and with a minimum of two players who are dealt thirteen cards each. One player shuffles the two packs and asks the opponent to cut the deck into half. The top half is then used to deal the playing cards. Once thirteen cards each are dealt, a ‘running card’ is placed face up, this is the first card off the stack once the twenty six cards have been dealt. The remaining cards are added to the stack for playing. A random card chosen from between the stack is also pulled out and placed face up under the stack and this is called the ‘joker’- a joker chosen and relevant specifically for this round of the game.


Source
Deal 13 cards each, pull out one joker for the game and keep it under the stack, lay the top card of the pile face up as the starting or running card.
Deal 13 cards each, pull out one joker for the game and keep it under the stack, lay the top card of the pile face up as the starting or running card. | Source

Pure Sequences

A pure sequence - same suit and in order
A pure sequence - same suit and in order | Source
Also a pure sequence when playing with three packs - London- exact same three cards
Also a pure sequence when playing with three packs - London- exact same three cards | Source

Get started...

So, to kick off the game, each player has thirteen cards in their hands, one running card to start off with and a chosen joker.

Now the aim is to declare first and to do that one has to make one ‘pure sequence’ at least and three other ‘sets’.

What is a Pure Sequence?

A pure sequence is nothing but three or more cards of the same suit and in an order. For example – A23 or AKQ or 678 or 345 of the same suit (either all Hearts/Spades/Diamonds/Clubs).

So each player’s constant endeavour is to first work on getting a pure sequence together. When you play with a set of three packs you can make a pure sequence with three exact same cards. For example – QQQ (3 queens of hearts/spades/diamonds or clubs) or 777 (three sevens of the same suit). This is also called ‘London’. (no clue, why?!!)



The Impures..

Next you need to have an ‘impure sequence’ implying a set of cards made with a joker. Your joker can be a natural joker from the card pack or a joker that is chosen for this game. So, if the joker picked was say a Jack, then all Jacks are jokers for this particular game. So if you have a Jack dealt out to you, keep it along with your other natural jokers (if any).

You can now make 2J4 , where the Jack/joker is used instead of a 3.

So any set made using a joker is an impure sequence. You can of course use natural Joker cards which are part of a 52 card deck as well!


Jokers

If Ace is the Joker for the game, then an example of using a joker to make an Impure Sequence
If Ace is the Joker for the game, then an example of using a joker to make an Impure Sequence | Source
Example of an impure sequence using a natural joker from the deck.
Example of an impure sequence using a natural joker from the deck. | Source

Once you have a pure and an impure in hand, you can make either ‘trails’ or more pure or impure sequences.

A trail is simple a set of three or four cards of the same number but different suits. So you can have three sixes like 666 of three different suits (heart/diamond/club or spades). Or you can have four Kings, all of different suits.

So in this way, you have to arrange your thirteen cards into a pure, an impure and/or trails.

NOTE: Rule is that you cannot make a pure sequence and then all Trails. You have to make an impure to declare your game.

Basically the flow of the game is –

  • Pure 1 (essential)
  • Then...Pure 2 or Impure (essential)
  • And then..Pure 2 or Impure or Trails


Trails or Sets

A Trail - 3 Jacks of different suits
A Trail - 3 Jacks of different suits | Source
An incorrect Trail - you cannot have two cards of the same suit - like 2 King of Hearts in this case
An incorrect Trail - you cannot have two cards of the same suit - like 2 King of Hearts in this case | Source

Declaring or Winning

Once all your thirteen cards are in the following order, you can declare the game by placing your last discard card face down on the discard pile.

The play rotates with the person who did not deal as the first to play, he can either choose to pick the running card or take the top card from the stack. If he needs the card he keeps it and discards a useless card instead onto the discard pile. The player who distributed the cards, plays next in a similar fashion and these tradeoffs continue till one player declares his game. If a person throws a joker by accident (a chosen joker, like a Jack in example), the opponent cannot use it as a joker, but only as the card it is – a jack only. Basically it loses it joker status once discarded by accident.


Done!

A complete hand - a pure set, an impure set & a Trail and one card to close or place face down to announce your declaration.
A complete hand - a pure set, an impure set & a Trail and one card to close or place face down to announce your declaration. | Source

Keeping score

There are various ways to score this game as well. One of them is as follows:

Every picture card (Ace, King, Queen & Jack) carries 10 points. Other number cards are valued at their number itself, so a 2 is two points and a 7 is seven points etc.

If the non-declarer/loser has a pure sequence, he sets that aside, if he has an impure, he sets that aside as well and also any trails and counts the remaining incomplete sequence cards as his points.

Having a pure and a trail is not enough. Like mentioned earlier, you need to have an impure sequence along with your pure, hence if you just have a pure and a trail, then the trail is also counted as points.

You can keep a score sheet for each player as illustrated–

And you can decide a threshold for the points, say 200; whoever reaches that threshold first gets out of the game. The last player to stay alive is the winner.

Other variations to this game ar- you can drop your hand if you think you have a hopeless set of cards to build on. A drop implies automatic points added against you, or you can drop after a few rounds of play and a higher set of points are marked against you. Sometimes an opponent declares and you have absolutely nothing ready, so it is called a Full Hand or ‘Book’ , implying every card point is added up and marked against you. Some play with a threshold for this Full Hand as well.

So loads of scoring methodologies and play rules exist around the world.

.......But at the end of the day it is a fun time pass and a lighthearted family game for all ages to enjoy.


Score Sheet

Alpha
Bravo
Charlie
5
0
22
 
 
 
 
 
 

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    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      I've never played this version before. Interesting.

    • Riverfish24 profile image
      Author

      Riverfish24 5 years ago from United States

      :) yes, it is amazing;the variations that one comes across in this game.

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