Continental Rummy is a Rummy variant that supports a lot of people. A lot of people. You can play it with as few as two or as many as twelve players! Unlike many other rummy games, in Continental Rummy you cannot lay down melds as you get them. Also, unlike Gin Rummy, you cannot go out with part of your hand unmelded. Going out is an all-at-once, one-and-done deal.
Object of Continental Rummy
The object of Continental Rummy is to be the first player to organize your hand into sequences and go out.
The size of the deck in Continental Rummy scales up as the number of players do. A game can use as few as 106 or as many as 212 cards! If playing with two to five players, shuffle together two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards plus two jokers. For six to eight players, use three decks plus three jokers. And for nine or more players, use four decks plus four jokers.
You will need some way of keeping score. The simplest way is to give each player an equal number of poker chips or similar tokens and handle the accounting that way. Each of these chips may represent a cash value, if desired, or simply an abstract point. You can also use pencil and paper, but scoring on paper is complicated by having to enter each score twice (as a plus for the winner and as a minus for each loser).
Shuffle the cards, using the multiple-deck shuffling technique if needed. Deal fifteen cards, three at a time, to each player. Then, place the stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing either the upcard or the top card of the stock. Then, they discard any card they wish, which becomes the new upcard. Play then passes to the left. Play continues like this until a player can go out. If the stock runs out before then, set aside the current upcard, shuffle the discard pile, and turn it face-down to form a new stock.
Players are attempting to use the cards they draw to build sequences. A sequence is three to five cards of the same suit in consecutive order. Cards rank in the usual order, and aces may be high or low, but not at the same time. That is, 3-2-A-K-Q is not a valid sequence. Jokers count as wild cards, and may substitute for any card a player wishes. A player may have multiple sequences of the same suit. Unlike most other rummy games, sequences are the only melds in the game; sets of three or more of a kind do not count as a meld.
In order to go out, a player must have all of their cards in sequences. The following are the only valid combinations of sequences a player is allowed to go out with:
- Five three-card sequences.
- Three four-card sequences and one three-card sequence.
- One five-card sequence, one four-card sequence, and two three-card sequences.
No other combination of sequences (e.g. three five-card sequences, a twelve-card and a three-card sequence, etc.) is allowed. When a player is able to go out, they discard their sixteenth card and lay the others face up on the table. The players then verify that it meets one of the legal patterns listed above. If it does, the player wins the hand. If it doesn’t, the hand continues, with the player who wrongly declared themselves out being forced to play with an exposed hand.
A player who wins the hand collects the following from each of their opponents:
- One point for winning
- Two points for each joker melded
- Seven points for going out on the first turn
- Ten points for going out with the fifteen cards dealt (i.e. on the first turn, without drawing)
- Ten points for using no jokers
- Ten points for the entire hand being of the same suit
Game play continues until one player reaches a previously agreed-upon number of points. That player, of course, wins the game.
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