Yaniv (a.k.a. Jhyap, Dhumbal)

Yaniv, as it is known in Israel, or Jhyap or Dhumbal, as it is known in Nepal, is a rummy-type card game for two to five players. Yaniv shares a common goal with Gin Rummy: each player is trying to reduce their unmatched cards’ point total below a certain threshold, whereupon they can end the game. In Yaniv, however, melds are discarded instead of held in the hand, meaning certain cards can be drawn from the discard pile and used over and over.

The game most likely originated in Nepal as Jhyap. Somehow, it spread from there to Israel, where it has enjoyed a period of popularity, especially among younger players, for the past several years.

Object of Yaniv

The object of Yaniv is to discard melds and be the first to call “Yaniv”, hopefully ensuring that the total of your unmatched cards is lower than that of your opponent.

Setup

Yaniv is played with a 54-card deck formed by augmenting a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards with two jokers. If you are playing with four or more players, you may wish to use a 108-card double deck to avoid frequent shuffling. You’ll also need something to keep score with—pencil and paper will do the job wonderfully.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Place the stub in the center of the table to form the stock. Turn over the top card of the stock; this is the first card in the discard pile.

Game play

In Yaniv, each of the face cards is worth ten points. Aces are worth one point, and are always low. All other cards are worth their face value. Jokers are worth zero.

Play of the hand

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Unlike most rummy games, in Yaniv, the first thing a player does is discard. A player may discard a single card, like they do in typical rummy games. However, they may also discard a set of two or more cards of the same rank. They can also discard a run of three or more cards of the same suit in sequence (e.g. 8-9-10-J♦). A player may only make one discard per turn. They can’t discard, say, a set then a run, or two runs, or two different sets.

In sequences, cards rank in their usual order, with aces always low. Q-K-A is not a valid combination! Also, jokers may be used as wilds to substitute for any card in a sequence (but not in a set).

It is important to keep the cards discarded in the proper order. Runs must always be kept in numerical order. Sets may be played in any order the player chooses.

After discarding, the player draws. The player may draw one card from the stock, or they may choose to take either the first or the last card that the previous player discarded. Thus, if the previous player discarded 8-9-10-J♦, the player may only draw the 8 or the jack, not the 9 or 10. This is where some strategy in discarding can be used—by carefully choosing the order they discard the cards in, a player can deny access to certain cards to the player after them!

Going out

As the game goes on, players gradually reduce the count of their deadwood (the cards left in their hand). When a player’s deadwood reaches five or fewer points, they may call “Yaniv!” to go out. This must happen at the beginning of their turn, before they discard.

All players then turn their cards face up. If the player has the lowest point total, they score zero for the hand, and all other players score the total value of the cards left in their hand. If another player has a lower point total than the player that called “Yaniv”, every player scores the value of the cards left in their hand. The player that called “Yaniv” also scores a 30-point penalty.

At the end of a hand, if a player has a score of exactly 200 points, their score resets to 100 points. Likewise, if a player ends a hand with exactly 100 points, their score is reduced to 50 points.

Ending the game

The deal passes to the left and another hand is dealt. This continues for as many hands as necessary. When a player’s score exceeds 200 points, they are out of the game and are not dealt into later hands. The last player remaining in the game is the winner.

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Oklahoma Rummy (Arlington)

Oklahoma Rummy
Oklahoma Rummy, also known as Arlington (and not to be confused with Oklahoma Gin Rummy), is a game for two to eight players in the Rummy family. It plays much like a greatly simplified, non-partnership version of Canasta, incorporating the option to draw the entire discard pile into the hand.

Oklahoma Rummy is based on an earlier game named Fortune Rummy, which was popular in the Midwest region of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.

Object of Oklahoma Rummy

The object of Oklahoma Rummy is to be the first player to score 1,000 or more points by forming cards into combinations called melds.

Setup

Oklahoma Rummy is played with a 104-card pack formed by shuffling two standard 52-card packs of playing cards together. Since you’re playing Oklahoma Rummy, you may as well use some cards from Oklahoma: Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, of course!

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed in the center of the table to form the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up; this card, the upcard, is the top card of the discard pile.

Game play

Like all rummy games, play in Oklahoma Rummy revolves around combinations of cards called melds. A meld is either three or four of a kind, or three or four cards of the same suit, in sequence. A meld may never contain five or more cards. When a meld is formed, it is placed face up on the table in front of the player. Unlike in other games, players may not contribute to their opponents’ melds. Aces may be either high or low for the purposes of melding, but not both at the same time, i.e. melds may not go “around the corner” from king to 2.

2s are wild and may represent any card, with one restriction. A 2 may not replace the Q♠ in a spade sequence unless it is the only 2 in the meld. You may also form a meld of all 2s without any natural cards.

A player normally begins their turn by drawing a card from the stock. However, if they are able to immediately meld the top card of the discard pile along with two cards from their hand, they are entitled to take the entire discard pile into their hand. While this causes an influx of cards to the player’s hand, many of these are immediately meldable, so taking the discard pile is often quite lucrative.

After drawing, a player may lay down any melds that they have. They may also extend any other melds they have played in previous turns, so long as doing does not cause the meld to exceed four cards. Melding is optional and doing so is not required on every turn, but if it is possible, it is always in the player’s best interest to do so.

The player then completes their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. Almost any card may be discarded, even 2s, but the Q♠ may not be discarded at any time.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when a player successfully gets rid of all of their cards. Their final card may either be melded or discarded. All players then tally up the value of cards in their melds:

  • Q: 50 points
  • Aces: 20 points each
  • Kings thru 8s: 10 points each
  • 7s through 3s: 5 points each
  • 2s: 25 points each in a meld of all 2s, otherwise scores equivalent to the card it represents

The player who went out scores a 100 point bonus for doing so, which they add to the value of their melds to obtain their hand score. All other players calculate the value of the cards left in their hand, using the values given above, 20 points for 2s, and 100 points for the Q♠. They take this total and subtract it from the value of their melds to arrive at their score for the hand.

Game play continues until at least one player reaches a score of 1,000 points at the end of a hand. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.

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Kalooki

Kalooki is a form of Contract Rummy that is played in Jamaica and also Trinidad and Tobago. (There is a separate, unrelated rummy game named Kaluki that is played primarily in North America and the UK.) It shares a lot of similarities with Contract Rummy—each hand has a different requirement for the initial meld, and the winner is the player who has the lowest score of unmatched cards at the end of the game.

Kalooki is normally played with three to five players.

Object of Kalooki

The object of Kalooki is to be the first player to go out by getting rid of all your cards through melding.

Setup

Kalooki is played with a 108-card deck formed by shuffling two 52-card decks and four jokers together. We would be honored if you picked Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like the tried-and-true pencil and paper.

Shuffle, then deal nine cards to each player. The number of cards dealt varies for each hand:

  1. Nine
  2. Ten
  3. Eleven
  4. Twelve
  5. Twelve
  6. Thirteen
  7. Fourteen
  8. Fifteen
  9. Sixteen

Place the remainder of the deck face-down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the first card of the stock is turned face up; this card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Drawing

Ordinarily, a player begins their turn by drawing a card from either the stock or the discard pile, as in any other rummy game.

However, if another player who has not laid down any melds would like the top card of the discard pile, they may call it. The active player then has the option to allow or to reject the call. If they allow it, the player who called takes the discard and a penalty card from the top of the stock; the active player then continues on with their turn by drawing from the stock. If the active player rejects the call, they simply take the discard and play their turn as usual.

Calling is subject to certain restrictions. A player who has already laid down melds on this hand cannot call for the rest of the hand. Players are limited to three successful calls per hand (attempted calls that were rejected by the active player are not counted.)  A player who attempts to call more than three times is charged a 50-point penalty for each offense. A player who has been caught calling too many times is also not allowed to score for bending the table (see “Ending the hand”).

Once a player has laid down their initial melds, they cannot draw from the discard pile for the rest of the hand. They must draw from the stock on each turn, and they must allow any calls made by other players on their turn.

If the stock is depleted when a player wishes to draw from it, set the upcard aside and turn the the remaining cards of the discard pile face down, then shuffle them to form the new stock. If this happens a second time, it usually means that the game has deadlocked, with each player holding onto cards the others need. Instead of shuffling again, the hand ends and is thrown out without being scored; a new hand is dealt by the same dealer for the same contract.

Melding

After the draw is settled, the player has the opportunity to meld. There are two different types of meld in Kalooki: the three, which is three or more cards of the same rank, and the four, which is a sequence of four or more cards of the same suit (e.g. 3-4-5-6♣). Threes and fours are equivalent to the sets and sequences, respectively, found in other rummy games. Suits are irrelevant in threes; all cards may be of different suits, or duplicates of the same card may be included. Aces may be either high or low when used for fours, but they cannot be both (K-A-2-3♦ is not a valid meld). A player may not have more than one four of the same suit.

Jokers are wild and may substitute for any card in a meld, with some exceptions. Threes must contain at least two natural cards. In fours, jokers cannot substitute for two consecutive cards (e.g. 7-8♥-★-★ would not be a valid meld, but 7♥-★-9♥-★ would be).

Each player’s first meld of the hand must meet the contract for that hand. The contract is a combination of threes and fours which changes on each hand, as shown below:

Hand No. Threes Fours
1 3
2 2 1
3 1 2
4 3
5 4
6 3 1
7 2 2
8 1 3
9 4

After a player has made their initial meld, they may lay down any additional legal melds they have with it, or any that they can form on subsequent turns.

Tacking on and discarding

A player who has made their initial meld also has the option to tack on (also known as laying off) to any melds already on the table. This is adding additional valid cards to extend a meld. One may do this to a three by adding additional cards of the same rank. Fours may only be extended by adding cards to the high end of the run; cards may only be added to the low end of a four when it has been extended on the high end all the way up to the ace.

If a player has the natural card that a joker is substituting for in a four, they may tack on that card and move the joker to the end of the four. If the meld has already been extended to the ace, the joker moves to the beginning of the meld. For example, with an existing four of 9-10-★-Q-K♠, a player holding the J♠ may add it in place of the joker and move it to the end of the run, such that the ending meld is 9-10-J-Q-K♠-★. If another player is holding the A♠, they could then add it to the end of the meld and move the joker to stand for the 8, i.e. forming a meld of ★-9-10-J-Q-K-A♠. Jokers cannot be tacked on or replaced if it would cause jokers to represent two consecutive cards in a four. Jokers may not be replaced in threes. Jokers cannot be moved from meld to meld, or taken into a player’s hand after being melded.

After a player has melded and tacked on as much as they want, they end their turn by discarding one card. This cannot be a joker, but any other card may be discarded (even the card they just drew or a card that could be melded or tacked on).

Ending the hand

The hand ends when a player manages to successfully get rid of all the cards in their hand by melding, tacking on or discarding. This is referred to as going out. Each of their opponents scores points against them for the cards remaining in their hand, as follows:

  • Jokers: 50 points each
  • Black aces: 15 points each
  • 10s through kings: 10 points each
  • 2s through 9s: face value
  • Red aces: 1 point each

If a player is able to go out on the same turn in which they make their initial meld, this is called bending the table and each opponent scores double points for the cards in their hand. To bend the table, a player draws as normal, lays down their initial meld to meet the contract for the hand, any other melds they can make, tack on to other melds, and finally discarding (if necessary).

The game ends after the ninth hand. Whoever has the lowest total score after this hand is the winner.

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Contract Rummy

Contract Rummy is a variation of Rummy where the game changes from hand to hand! On each hand, players have a different “contract” to fulfill in order to go out: some hands require a certain number of runs, while others require a certain number of sets. No matter what, though, the basic rummy gameplay flow—draw-meld-discard—is the core mechanic of the game. It has been adapted by Mattel into one of their proprietary games, Phase 10.

Contract Rummy is ideal for four players, but can be played with three or five as well. Score is only kept to keep track of unmatched cards (deadwood) at the end of the hand; therefore, scoring as few points as possible is the way to win the game.

Object of Contract Rummy

The object of Contract Rummy is to score the lowest number of points by being the first to deplete your hand, primarily by forming melds. In order to do so, the player must lay down a certain combination of melds that meet the contract for the hand.

Setup

Contract Rummy is played with a deck formed by taking two standard decks and adding one fewer jokers than the number of players. That is, three players play with a 106-card deck (104 cards plus two jokers), four with 107 (three jokers), and five with 108 (all four jokers). If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, not only do you get all the benefits of their durability, but you also get to play with jokers that have an awesome dragon on them.

You will also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper works best, but, by all means, use an Etch-A-Sketch if you think that’ll work better.

Shuffle and deal ten cards, face down, to each player on the first three hands, or twelve on the fourth through seventh hands. The remainder of the deck is placed face-down in the center of the table, forming the stock. The first card of the stock is turned face up; this card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Drawing

The player to the left of the dealer plays first. They begin their turn by drawing either the top card of the stock or the upcard of the discard pile. If they draw the upcard, their turn simply continues. If, however, they draw from the stock, the other players have the opportunity to take the undrawn discard by asking “May I?” If multiple players ask “May I?”, of the players that asked, the first player to the active player’s left has priority. The player that takes this upcard draws both the upcard and the top card from the stock as a penalty. If other cards have been discarded this hand, the act of taking the upcard exposes a new upcard under it; this new card may then be taken by any other player in the same way. This can continue indefinitely, with the only restriction being that a player cannot draw two consecutive upcards. The play then reverts to the active player (i.e. the player whose turn was interrupted by the first “May I?”)

If the stock is depleted when a player wishes to draw from it, set the upcard aside and turn the the remaining cards of the discard pile face down, then shuffle them to form the new stock. If both the stock and the discard pile are exhausted, the hand ends immediately.

Melding

After the draw has been settled, the player may meld cards if able. There are two types of melds in Contract Rummy: sets or groups, which are three or more cards of the same rank (e.g. 9-9-9), and runs or sequences, which are four or more cards of the same suit in sequence (e.g. 10-J-Q-K). Suit is irrelevant when it comes to sets; one can have two identical cards (i.e. of the same rank and suit) in the same meld. In sequences, aces may be low or high, but not both at the same time; A-2-3-4 is a valid meld, and so is J-Q-K-A, but Q-K-A-2 is not.

All melding is subject to one restriction: their first meld of the hand must, all at once, make the contract for the hand. The contracts for each hand are as follows:

  1. Two sets of three.
  2. A set of three and a run of four.
  3. Two runs of four.
  4. Three sets of three.
  5. Two sets of three and a run of four.
  6. One set of three and two runs of four.
  7. Three runs of four, melded all at once.

Note that for the purposes of fulfilling a contract, sequences of the same suit may not be continuous; 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10♣ would be considered one eight-card sequence, not a 3-to-6 sequence and a separate 7-10 sequence. (Two separate runs may later be joined together by layoffs as described below; this does not affect fulfillment of the contract.)

After a player has made an initial meld that makes the contract, they may on subsequent turns lay down further melds.

Jokers are wild cards and may be put into a meld in place of any card. If a joker is placed in a sequence, any player who holds the card it represents may, in the lay-off phase of their turn (see below), add the card to the meld and take the joker into their hand (e.g. if a meld of 5-6-★-8♠ has been played, a player who has the 7♠ may substitute it for the joker and reuse the joker for another meld later). Jokers that are part of sets may not be reclaimed in this manner. Any joker which has been taken in this manner must be played to a new meld on the same turn.

On the seventh hand, no initial meld or laying off takes place. Instead, all twelve cards must be melded all at once, with no discard.

Laying off and discarding

Before a player has melded, and on the turn that a player makes their initial meld, they simply discard a card and their turn ends. On subsequent turns, they may lay off cards by adding them to melds on the table, either their own or another player’s. As many or as few cards may be laid off as one desires.

After laying off, a player discards one card and play passes to the player on their left.

Ending the hand

The hand ends whenever both the stock and the discard pile is depleted, or, more commonly, when one player has gotten rid of their entire hand. At this point, all players with cards left in their hand score points for the cards remaining:

  • Jokers and aces: 15 points
  • Face cards: 10 points
  • All other cards: face value

The deal then passes to the left and the next hand is played. Game play continues until the end of the seventh hand, at which point whoever has the lowest score is the winner.

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Mille

Mille is a Rummy-type game that plays very similar to Canasta. Unlike Canasta, however, Mille is played by two solo players, not partnerships. Mille is likely of Canadian origin, beginning in Quebec and spreading east into Ontario by the 1990s. While it’s possible to play Mille just for fun, it is typically played for money.

Object of Mille

The object of Mille is to be the first player to score 1,200 points by melding cards of the same rank.

Setup

Mille uses a 104-card deck formed by shuffling together two standard 52-card decks with the same back design. (Unlike Canasta, Mille does not use jokers.) We, of course, would be overjoyed to know you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game. You will also need something to keep score with; pencil and paper is probably your best bet.

The players should mutually agree as to whether to play for money, and if so, how much the stakes will be. Stakes are typically expressed as two dollar amounts, the second three times as much as the first, e.g. $1-$3, $2-6, $50-$150, etc. (The purpose of these amounts will be described in “Ending the game” below.)

Shuffle and deal fifteen cards to each player. Place the remainder of the pack face down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn one card face up from the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Play of the hand

The non-dealer goes first. As in most rummy games, a turn consists of drawing, melding if able, and then discarding. If a player has two or more cards in their hand of the same rank as the upcard, they may immediately meld the upcard along with these cards, then take the entire discard pile into their hand. Otherwise, they draw one card from the stock.

After drawing, the player may lay down, face up, as many melds as they have in their hand. A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank. Melding is optional; a player may choose to retain an entire meld or some cards of the same rank in their hand. All cards of the same rank that are laid down by a player are considered to form one meld. If a player melded, say, three kings, then on later turn melded three more, this would form one six-card meld.

2s are considered wild cards, and may be melded alongside any other combination of cards. Note, however, that players who do not meld any 2s are awarded a bonus. Three or more 2s can also be laid down as a meld of 2s, which does not prevent the player from claiming the bonus. A 2 cannot be used to take the discard pile; this can only be done with two or more natural cards of the same rank as the upcard.

After melding, the player discards one card, and the turn passes to the next player, with this discard as the new upcard for the next player’s turn. If the stock is depleted, the upcard is set aside and the remainder of the discard pile is shuffled and turned face down to form a new stock.

The hand ends when one player has melded or discarded all of their cards. A player may discard on the turn they go out, but if they are able to exhaust their hand by melding all of their cards, they may end the hand without discarding.

Scoring

The cards in Mille have the following values:

  • Q♠: 100 points
  • J♦: 50 points
  • Aces: 15 points each
  • K-10: 10 points each
  • 9-3: 5 points each
  • 2s: 20 points each

If a player manages to meld all eight cards of one rank without using any wild cards, this is called a natural, and the value of this meld is doubled in their hand score. If the player did not meld any 2s at all (other than as part of a meld of 2s), this is also considered a natural, and the value of all of their melded cards is doubled. When a player scores a natural of either type, it is indicated on the score sheet with an asterisk next to their score for that hand. If a player scores both types of natural, two asterisks are recorded on the score sheet, the natural meld scores 4× the value of the cards, and all other cards score double.

At the end of the hand, each player scores the total value of the all the cards they have melded, then they deduct the value of any cards left in their hand. As a result, It is possible that the player who did not go out can have a net negative score for the hand; this is called a chapeau (French for “hat”) and the negative hand score is circled on the score sheet.

Ending the game

The game ends when one player has scored 1,200 or more. This player is the winner.

If the losing player failed to score at least 600 points, this is a skunk. If the losing player ended  the hand with a negative score, it is a double skunk.

If playing for money, the loser pays the winner according to the stakes. As mentioned before, the stakes are expressed as two amounts, e.g. $1-$3. Using these values, the loser pays:

  • The larger amount once for losing the game.
  • The larger amount once for each natural scored by the winner.
  • The larger amount once for each of the loser’s chapeaux.
  • The smaller amount is paid once for each 100-point difference in score between the two players. To calculate this, round the scores to the nearest 100, subtract the smaller from the larger, and divide the difference by 100.

In the event of a skunk, the payment is doubled; in the event of a double skunk, the payment is tripled.

See also

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500 Rummy

500 Rummy (sometimes called in 500 Rum in literature, and not to be confused with Five Hundred) is a member of the Rummy family for two to eight players. The main difference between basic Rummy and 500 Rummy is that, in the latter game, players score for the melds they lay down, rather than simply scoring for the points left in their hand, a feature also found in Canasta.

Object of 500 Rummy

The object of 500 Rummy is to be the first player to score 500 points by forming melds and laying off cards to other player’s melds.

Setup

500 Rummy uses a 54-card deck, a standard 52-card deck plus two jokers. If you’ve got a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’ll have all you need. If you are playing with five or more players, shuffle in a second 54-card deck, making a total of 108 cards in play. You will also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the deck, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up next to it, forming the discard pile. As more cards are added to it, the discard pile should be kept neatly spread out, so that the indices of every card in the pile are visible, and the order that the cards were discarded should remain clear.

Game play

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 any card from the discard pile (in which case the player, as well as all of their opponents, will know what is being added to their hand). However, when drawing from the discard pile, the player must be able to immediately use the card drawn in a meld. When a card is drawn from the discard pile other than its the top card, the player must take all of the cards on top of it (i.e. that have been discarded more recently) into their hand as well.

After they have drawn, 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 (with no duplication in suits if the 108-card deck is being used; 5♣-5♠-5♥ is a valid meld, but 5♣-5♣-5♥ is not), or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces count either low or high, kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). 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 that would extend 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. Cards that have been laid off are kept in front of the player that laid them off (they are not actually placed with the meld they belong to, for scoring reasons), and the player must designate the meld that it belongs to, in order to prevent ambiguity in situations where the card could potentially belong to several melds.

Jokers are wild and may represent any card for the purpose of melding. At the time that it is melded, the player must declare the card the joker stands for, and this cannot be changed later (it is okay if the designated card is present elsewhere on the table; there can be several “copies” of a card in play). The card named must, of course, be able to be legally melded in order for the joker to be played.

Finally, a player ends their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the left.

If, after a player has discarded, the discard pile contains any cards which could immediately be melded, i.e. either a card that could be laid off immediately, or a complete meld, not requiring any cards from a player’s hand, any player other than the one who just discarded may call out “Rummy!” That player is then entitled to draw the relevant cards from the discard pile (and any cards on top of them, as usual) and play them. They then take their turn as normal, performing any other melds and discarding one card. Play then passes to the left, as per usual.

Game play continues until one player, or the stock, has run out of cards. The hand then ends immediately, with no further melding possible. Each opponent then calculates the value of their melds and the deadwood (the remaining unmelded cards) in their hand. Aces and jokers are worth fifteen points each (except for in an A-2-3 sequence, where aces are worth only one point), face cards are worth ten points each, and all other cards are worth their face value. Each player scores the value of their melds minus the amount of deadwood in their hand.

The game ends when a player reaches a score of 500 or more. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.

 

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Tonk

Tonk (also known as Tunk) is a quick-playing member of the Rummy family, best for two to four players. Because each hand is so short, it is often played in places like break rooms where players might have to leave on short notice. Tonk is often played for money to avoid the need for actual scorekeeping.

Tonk dates back to at least the 1930s, when it was played by members of Duke Ellington’s orchestra.

Object of Tonk

The object of Tonk is to be the first player to run out of cards, by discarding, spreading, and hitting other players’ spreads.

Setup

Tonk uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Playing with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is always an excellent choice.

Before playing, it should be established whether the game is being played for money, and if so what the value of one stake is. If the game is not being played for money, each hand can simply be considered its own game.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. The deck stub is placed in the center of the table and forms the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face-up next to it; this card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Each card in Tonk has a point value which is used to determine the value of the player’s hand. These values are the same as those in Gin Rummy, i.e. aces are worth one point, face cards are worth ten, and all others their face value.

Upon receiving their cards, players immediately calculate the total score of their hand before any cards have been played. If a player has been dealt a count of exactly 50, or a count of 11 or lower, they may show their cards and declare “Tonk,” which is considered an instant win, and all other players pay double the stake to that player. If multiple players have a tonk, the hand is considered a draw with no winner.

If nobody has a tonk, the player to the left of the dealer plays first. A usual turn will begin with the player drawing one card from either the stock or the discard pile, either spreading or hitting, then discarding.

A spread is equivalent to a meld in most other rummy games. A valid spread is three or four of a kind, or a run of three or more cards of the same suit in sequence. Aces may be either low or high, but a sequence cannot use it as both (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). When a player forms a spread, they may lay it face-up on the table in front of them. Once a spread has been laid down, it is no longer considered part of the hand. Laying a spread down is not mandatory; a player may keep the spread in their hand if they so desire.

A player may also hit their opponents’ spreads. A hit is extending a spread already on the table, either yours or an opponent’s, by playing a legal card to it. If an opponent has spread three of a kind and you hold the fourth card of that rank, you may lay off the fourth king onto the spread. Runs can also be extended; with a spread 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 spread to another to facilitate laying off. A player may hit as many spreads as they are able to on one turn, but it is optional and is not required. When a player has one of their spreads hit, they may not hit or lay down any spreads on the next turn they take.

When a card is discarded, any player may slap it, a la Slapjack, if they can immediately play it to a spread. If multiple player slap the same card, the player whose hand is on the bottom wins the slap. The slapping player takes the card and plays their turn as normal, essentially skipping all of the players before them. Turn order continues with the player to the left of the slapping player.

Going out

There are many ways that a Tonk hand can end. Each of them has different requirements to fulfill and consequences to the game.

A player may drop on any turn, even on their first turn. To drop, a player simply spreads their cards face-up on the table prior to drawing, and all other players must then also reveal their hands. The player is essentially betting that they have the lowest total in unmatched cards in their hand. If they do, they win the hand, with each opponent paying the stake to them. If another player ties with them, or has a lower score, they are said to be caught and must pay the stake to each of their opponents with a lower or equal score. Additionally, each player must pay the stake to the player (or players, if there is a tie) with the lowest score.

If the stock runs out before anyone ends the hand in any other way, the players reveal their hands and compare the totals of their unmatched cards. The player with the lowest total wins the hand, and is paid one stake by each of their opponents. If there is a tie, the hand is considered a draw and no stake is paid.

If a player has no cards in their hand after discarding, they are said to have run out. They win the hand, and each of their opponents pays a single stake to them. However, if a player runs out of cards before discarding (i.e. they play their last card by laying down a spread or by hitting another player’s spread), they may call out “Tonk,” and are said to have tonked out. When a player tonks out, they are paid a double stake by each of their opponents.

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Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot is a North American variant of Canasta. Like its parent game, it is best for four players in partnerships. Hand and Foot adds a twist to the basic game of Canasta by introducing more cards—a lot more cards—and giving each player two hands to have to contend with. It gives a partnership more specific requirements to fulfill before going out.

Object of Hand and Foot

The object of Hand and Foot is to score more points than your opponents by forming melds of three or more cards and piles, which are melds of seven cards.

Setup

The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.

Hand and Foot requires a 270-card deck consisting of five standard 52-card decks plus jokers, a truly impressive number of cards for a non-casino game. If you’ve got five sets of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, well, you’re one of our best customers and we love you. Shuffle the decks together (it might help to use the multiple-deck shuffling technique). Split the deck in two, forming the stocks, with a gap between the two halves of the deck for the discard pile.

Unlike in most games, in Hand and Foot, the players are responsible for dealing their own cards. Each player takes a small portion of one of the stocks and deals two piles of eleven cards face down in front of them. If a player managed to pull exactly 22 cards from the stock, they immediately score a 100-point bonus. Otherwise, any excess cards are returned to the stock. Each player selects one of the eleven-card piles as their hand, and the other eleven cards are passed to their right, forming that player’s foot. The foot is kept face-down in front of the player.

One card from one of the stocks is turned face-up and placed between them. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, discard it face-down into one of the stocks and draw another card.

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
  • Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Cannot be melded. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding.

A player begins their turn by drawing. They may draw either the top two cards of one of the stock piles or the top seven cards of the discard pile (or the whole pile if it contains less than seven cards). In order to draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately meld the top card of the discard pile with two cards from their hand. (The other six cards are inaccessible to them until they demonstrate that they can legally meld the top card.) If this is the partnership’s first meld for the hand, additional cards from the hand may be melded alongside it in order to satisfy the opening-meld requirement. Because black 3s cannot be melded, a player may never draw from the discard pile if the upcard is a black 3. If the top card of the discard pile is a wild card, then the player can only draw from the discard pile if the player is holding two other cards of the same rank (e.g. if there is a joker on the discard pile, you need two other jokers to draw from it, you cannot substitute twos for the jokers).

After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the round of the game:

  • First round: 50 points
  • Second round: 90 points
  • Third round: 120 points
  • Fourth round: 150 points

A meld consists of three to seven cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). A meld can contain no more than one wild card in a meld of three, four, or five cards and no more than two in a meld of six or seven. A player can also make a meld that consists of all wild cards.

After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership on that hand is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate incomplete melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven cards is called a pile, so called because it is traditionally denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile. A pile with no wilds, or a pile with only wilds, is called a clean pile, while a pile with a mix of natural cards and wilds is called a dirty pile. This distinction is important because clean piles score higher. The type of pile is traditionally indicated by its top card; clean piles are squared up with a red card on top, and dirty piles with a black card on top. A pile cannot contain more than seven cards; once a pile has been completed, a new meld of the same rank can be established.

Picking up the foot

When a player has exhausted their hand, they may then pick up their foot pile and play with it. If the player manages to run out of cards before discarding (i.e. through melding), they may simply pick up their foot at that time and continue their turn. If the player gets rid of their final card through discarding, they pick up the foot at the beginning of their next turn.

Depletion of the stock

In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players drawing from the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable or unwilling to draw from the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.

If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must meet the following conditions: they must have completed two clean piles, two dirty piles, and one wild pile, both players must have played at least part of one turn with their foot piles, and the player wishing to go out must have received permission to go out from their partner.

Permission to go out is received by simply asking the partner “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.

After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score. The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Wild piles: 1500 points each.
  • Clean piles: 500 points each.
  • Dirty piles: 300 points each.
  • Red threes: 100 points each.
  • Going out: 100 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. The game ends after four hands have been played. The partnership with the highest score at that point is the winner.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
  • Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
  • Attempting to draw from the discard pile when unable to use the upcard: –50 points.

See also

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Rummy

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.

Setup

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.

Game play

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.

Going rummy

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.

See also

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Canasta

Canasta is a classic game for four players in partnerships. Originating in Uruguay in 1940, and further developed throughout the 1940s in Argentina, the game of Canasta became a fad in United States the early 1950s, challenging the popularity of the other popular partnership game of the 20th century, Contract Bridge. Since then, the game has evolved into a world-wide classic.

Canasta has the disadvantage of having a lot of intricacies to its rules, and rules that depend a lot on the scoring system, meaning that it can be somewhat overwhelming to novice players. Once it gets going, however, it is a quick and fun game.

Object of Canasta

The object of the game is to score 5,000 points before your opponent by forming melds of three or more cards of the same rank, and canastas, which are melds of seven or more cards of the same rank.

Setup

The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.

Canasta uses a 108-card deck, consisting of two standard decks of playing cards, plus Jokers, shuffled together. The backs of both decks of cards should be identical. If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, pat yourself on the back for your smart purchasing decisions. You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus. We recommend either a pencil and paper or a smartphone application, since abacuses that go up to 5,000 are kind of hard to find in this day and age.

Deal 11 cards to each player. Set the rest of the deck in the center of the table, forming the stock, and turn one card face-up next to it. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, turn another card over from the stock to cover it (continue turning cards until the upcard is something other than one of these three ranks). If the discard pile started with one of these three cards, it is considered frozen (see below).

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
  • Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Can only be melded at the end of the hand, and prevent the discard pile from being taken when one is the upcard. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them. Red 3s found in the discard pile are not replaced, however.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding. A player may not deplete their hand of cards unless they meet specific requirements for going out, as described below.

When drawing, the player has the option to draw the top card of the stock, or to draw the upcard. To draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately use the upcard in a meld (either by forming a new meld or extending an existing one with it); upon doing so, the player takes the entire discard pile into their hand! (This is a very good thing; the discard pile is often large and contains many things that are useful to the player.) Under some circumstances, however, the discard pile is frozen, which further restricts the ability of the player to take the discard pile—see below. A player also cannot take the discard pile when the upcard is a black 3.

After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the partnership’s score at the beginning of that hand:

Score Minimum
Below 0 15
0–1499 50
1500–2999 90
3000–4999 120

Note that a partnership with a negative score really has no “minimum” requirement; a minimum of 15 exists only by virtue of no valid meld having a score below this.

A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). At least two cards must be natural (i.e. not a wild card), and a meld can never contain more than three wild cards.

After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven or more cards is called a canasta, which, if you were wondering, is Spanish for “basket”. Canastas involving wild cards are called mixed canastas (canastas sucias or “dirty canastas” in Spanish), and canastas free of wild cards are called natural canastas (canastas limpias, or “clean canastas”). The distinction is important because natural canastas score higher. Traditionally, elevation to canasta status is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for natural canastas and a black card on top for mixed canastas. (Should a wild card be added to a natural canasta, the top card of the canasta is switched out so that it again displays the correct color.)

After any melds are made, the player discards any card other than a red 3, and play continues with the player to the left.

Freezing the discard pile

Should a red 3 or wild card end up in the discard pile, either by being the initial upcard, or (in the case of wild cards) by being intentionally discarded there, the discard pile is considered frozen. This is signified by placing the offending card at right angles to the pile, causing it to stick out when further cards are placed on top of it. When the discard pile is frozen, it may only be taken if its top card can be used to form a new meld with two or more other cards of the same rank (i.e. you cannot take a frozen discard pile to form a meld with two natural cards and a wild card).

Depletion of the stock

In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players taking the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable to take the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.

If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must have formed at least one canasta. At this point, you may go out by divesting yourself of your remaining cards, either by forming new melds, adding to existing ones, or discarding.

It is permissible to consult your partner before going out by asking “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.

A player also has the option of going out concealed. This is achieved when a player goes out without the partnership having previously melded anything, and scores a bonus.

After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score (except for any undeclared red 3s, which are handled as discussed in “Penalties” below). The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Natural canastas: 500 points each.
  • Mixed canastas: 300 points each.
  • Red threes: 100 points each, unless all four are held, in which case they are 200 points each (for a total of 800).
  • Going out normally: 100 points.
  • Going out concealed: 200 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, if neither partnership has reached 5,000 points, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. If one or both partnerships has exceeded a score of 5,000, the partnership with the higher score at that point wins.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • Undeclared red 3s at end of hand: –500 points each.
  • Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
  • Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
  • Taking the upcard when unable to use it: –50 points.

Canasta for two players

Although Canasta is canonically considered a partnership game, early accounts claim that it was conceived as a two-player game, and it works well in that form. Play with two players is the same as the partnership game, except that fifteen cards are initially dealt instead of eleven, players draw two cards instead of one (though they still discard only one card), and two canastas are required to go out instead of one.

See also

 

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