Rummy is one of the more popular card games around. This is perhaps thanks to its relative simplicity because it’s very easy to learn. Whatever the reason, this matching game is enjoyed by people all over the world.
It’s played by many simply for fun, but it can also be played for real money wagers.
The object of rummy is to build sets of cards known as melds. A meld can consist of three or four cards of the same rank, or three cards or more in sequence of the same suit.
There are lots of different variations of rummy, but they all have this same basic concept in common.
On this page, we have taken a brief look at the origins of rummy and also explained the rules of Basic rummy: the simplest variation of the game. We have also listed a number of other rummy variants.
Origins and History
There are actually several different theories about how the game of rummy originated and subsequently evolved. It’s difficult to trace the exact history of the game, but it’s fair to say that rummy in one form or another has been played for a very long time.
Of all the theories about the game’s history, there are three in particular that seem to be widely held.
1. The first is that rummy evolved from another game called Conquain, which itself originated in either Spain or Mexico.
According to the theory, this was the very first example of rummy and all other forms effectively stemmed from it. It’s believed to have spread throughout America during the 19th century before reaching England where it was given the name rummy.
2. The second theory is that rummy evolved from a particular form of poker known as Whiskey Poker.
This particular theory was put forward by card expert and author John Scarne.
He stated that Whiskey Poker was very similar to the game of rummy that we know today; it subsequently became known as Rum Poker and then eventually rummy.
3. The third theory is that rummy originated in China at some point during the 19th century, starting out as a game called Khanhoo.
It’s very possible that there’s some truth in all of these theories, and it’s also possible that none of them are true.
Regardless of exactly how the game came about, it has certainly stood the test of time and has been enjoyed by generations of card players.
The Rules of Basic Rummy
The simplest version of rummy is Basic rummy. This is also known as Sai rummy and is among the most widely played variation. It uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards and can be played anywhere by two to six players. A game can be played for an agreed number of rounds or until one player reaches an agreed target score.
Each game starts with every participating player drawing a card, once the deck has been shuffled. Whoever draws the lowest card becomes the dealer for the first round and deals a number of cards to each player. The exact number of cards depends on how many players there are.
With just two players each one receives ten cards. If there are three or four players, they each get seven or six cards a piece and so on.
After the necessary cards have been dealt, the remaining cards are used to form the stockpile. They are placed face down in the middle of the table with the top card then turned over face up to start the discard pile.
Play then begins, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. The player may draw a face-down card from the stock pile or the face-up card from the discard pile.
They must then remove a single card from their hand and place it face up on the discard pile.
Once their turn is complete play continues in a clockwise direction with each player drawing one new card and discarding one.
The idea is to try and create melds. As mentioned earlier a meld can be three or four cards of the same rank (three kings for example) or three or more cards of the same suit in sequential order (5-6-7 of spades for example).
When a player has a meld they can lay it face down on the table during their turn; this is known as melding.
During their turn, a player can also choose to place cards on a meld laid down by another player if they add to that meld.
For example, if a player has laid down three kings, then another player can add a fourth king. If a player has laid down 5-6-7 of spades, then another player can add the four or the eight of spades. Adding to a meld laid down by another player is known as laying off.
The first player to discard all of their cards by melding or laying off is the winner of that round, and the round ends.
All the other players then add up the value of their cards with aces being valued at 15 points, the queen of spades at 40 points, all other face cards are 10 points and all other number cards are worth 5 points.
The player who won the round, then scores the total value of all the other players’ cards, while each player deducts the value of the cards they had in their hand from their own score.
Once the scoring is complete, the play moves on to the next round, unless a winner is declared.
Popular Rummy Variants
Below is a list of some of the other popular variations of rummy.
**Please note this list is by no means exhaustive as there are many more forms of rummy.