The origins of Rummy are centuries old. The game, along with its many variations, is one of the most popular card games in the world today. Rummy belongs to a group of card games that share similar rules and characteristics, which are known as ‘draw and discard’ games.
The game is generally played by between two and four players but occasionally more. The object of the game is for players to get rid of all their cards through a series of rounds and turns.
A turn consists of two actions:
Picking up a card, and discarding a card at the end of the turn.
A player can either pick up cards from the deck, or pick up the card that was discarded by the previous player. When discarding cards, players will usually choose to discard the card that is of least value to their hand or a high value card in terms of penalty points – the latter being calculated at the end of a game.
On receiving cards in each round, the player needs to decide on their usability in ‘melds’ (‘sets’ and ‘runs’). In order to throw down cards, players must form sets or runs and lay them down in the meld area. One card has to be kept in the hand so as to complete a turn.
Run – at least three consecutive cards from the same suit – a bit like a straight really.
Set – at least three cards, with the same value, from different suits.
When a player has no cards left in their hand – they win the game. The opponents left holding cards are penalised according to the cumulative value of those cards.
Traditional Rummy can end after one or three rounds. Players have two main options – either to gradually lay down melds / sets / runs in order to reduce the risk of being ‘caught’ by an opponent, or attempt to lay down all their melds at once, in a type of win called a ‘hunt’ win.
Rummy has many variations all over the world. Your country will determine the type of Rummy variation played.
For example, in Europe Rummy is better known as: Ramino, Rummikup, Remi, Kalooki, Chinchon, Okey, Bribas, Romme, Rummy 500 or Rami, depending on which country you are from. In North America the game is known better as: Gin Rummy or Oklahoma Gin. In South America the game is best known as: Burraco, Canasta or Conquian. In Australia and New Zealand, ‘Tonk’ is the popular version. In the Far East, it goes by the name of Mahjong.
Each game will generally have subtle variations on the original Rummy game. Perhaps the best advice is to start with Rummy and go from there.