Rummy is the basic game underlying a whole family of card games. As such, it is sometimes referred to as Basic Rummy or Straight Rummy to disambiguate it from the other games of the Rummy family, many of which have eclipsed their parent game in popularity. Rummy is ideal for two to four players, but you can squeeze in six if you want to.
Object of Rummy
The object of Rummy is to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards by melding them or laying them off on your opponents’ melds.
Rummy uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We now make our standard suggestion that you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need some sort of scorekeeping equipment, such as pencil and paper.
It should be agreed upon at what point the game ends. A game may end after a certain number of hands, or after a player has reached a given point threshold. When that point is reached, whoever has the highest score wins.
Shuffle and deal the following number of cards, one at a time, to each player:
- For two players: deal ten cards.
- For three or four players: deal seven cards.
- For five or six players: deal six cards.
Place the deck stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the first card of the stock face-up, forming the discard pile.
The player to the left of the dealer (or the non-dealer, in a two-player game) goes first. The first action a player takes at the beginning of a turn is to draw a card, either from the stock (in which case the player will not know what it is) or from the top of the discard pile (in which case the player, as well as all of their opponents, will know what is being added to their hand).
The player then has the option to meld. Melding is laying down a combination of cards called a meld face-up on the table in front of oneself. Valid melds include three or four of a kind, or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces are low, and kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). A player may only meld once per turn (with one exception, see “Going rummy” below). Melding is not compulsory; a player may choose to keep melds in their hand as long as they like.
After melding, a player has the opportunity to lay off on a pre-existing melds, if able. This is extending a meld already on the table, either yours or an opponent’s, by playing a legal card to it. If an opponent has melded three of a kind and you hold the fourth card of that rank, you may lay off the fourth king onto the meld. Runs can also be extended; with a meld on the table of 9-10-J♦, you may lay off either the 8♦ or the Q♦ if you hold either of them. A player cannot move cards from one meld to another to facilitate laying off. A player may lay off as many cards as they are able to on one turn, but laying off is optional and is not required.
After melding and laying off if they so desire, a player ends their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. If the player started their turn by drawing from the discard pile, they cannot discard the same card that they drew (i.e. they cannot cause the discard pile to have the same card on top of it that was there at the beginning of their turn). The turn then passes to the player to the left.
Game play continues until one player has run out of cards. Each opponent then calculates the value of the deadwood (the remaining unmelded cards) in their hand. Aces are worth one point each, face cards are worth ten points each, and all other cards are worth their face value. The winner of the hand scores the combined deadwood scores of all of the opponents.
A player may, instead of melding when they are able, keep their melds in their hand until they are able to play them all at once and go out on the same turn. This is called “going rummy”. A player scores double points on a hand where they successfully go rummy.