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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.
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?!!)
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!
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
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.
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.