How to Play Rummy – A Beginner’s Guide

Rummy is a competitive card game with a little bit of skill and a little bit of luck. By taking turns, drawing and discarding cards, the goal is to make sets and sequences out of cards that are initially dealt to you. The first player to do this is the one that wins a game round.

Of course, there is much more to be said about the game, which we have thoroughly covered in this beginner’s guide on how to play Rummy. The game may seem complicated at first, but is rather easy.

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Important Notice Before We Get Started

You must know that there are a ton of variations of Rummy. Many are similar, while some are more unique with special and distinct Rummy rules. In the following guide, we will be using Indian Rummy, also known as 13 Card Rummy as a basis. This is the most popular type of Rummy that is played in India. 

Now let’s get started!    

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The Basic Rules of Playing Rummy

To get an overview of how Rummy is played, here are some of the basic rules:

  • 2 – 6 players can participate.
  • 2 full decks of cards are used, including 4 joker cards.
  • Joker cards can substitute for any card in the deck.
  • All players will always hold 13 cards in their hand.
  • Players take turns acting in a clockwise manner.
  • An Ace can act as a low card
    (like 3 2 A )
    as well as a high card
    (like A K Q ).
  • Face cards and aces are worth 10 points; 2s – 9s are worth 2 – 9 points and jokers are worth 0.
  • At the end of a game round, all losers receive points based on their cards.
  • Points are bad as they will either cost you money or worsen your standings. Something which varies depending on the game mode you are playing.

This Is How You Win in Rummy

Rummy is played in game rounds and in every game round, the winner is the player that arranges all of his cards in pure sequences, impure sequences and sets. Don’t worry, we have explained these card arrangements further down in the guide

A winning rummy hand with a pure sequence

A winning hand cannot consist of any cards, but must always include at least two sequences where one of these is a pure sequence. An example is illustrated in the image above. 

In addition to going for a win in every game round, it’s a good idea to minimize the points that your cards are worth. Whenever you lose, you will receive points based on your cards and the more points you accumulate, the more it will cost you.  

You may have questions, but don’t worry. Keep reading and they will all be answered. 

Don’t miss out on Baba’s 14 Tips and Tricks for Winning in Rummy Online.

Playing Rummy Step by Step

The below step by step guide will give you a full understanding of how rummy is played in five easy steps.

Step 1. A Game Round Begins

Step 1. Showing the rummy table
  • A random player is decided to be the dealer. This can be done by drawing a card where the one that pulls the highest card gets to deal.
  • The dealer hands out 13 cards to all participating players, including himself.
  • After that, one card is flipped over and put on the table. This card will act as an additional joker to the real joker cards that are already included. For instance, if J is flipped over, all Jacks become jokers.
  • The remaining cards are put face down on the table as a stack. This is known as a closed deck.
  • From this stack of cards, the top one is turned face up and placed next to it to form an additional stack. This stack is known as an open deck. 

Step 2. Players Take Turns Acting

Step 2. Playing rummy and swapping cards
  • The player sitting to the left of the dealer starts acting.
  • This player can either draw the top card from the closed deck or the top card from the open deck. With one exception. A joker card can never be drawn from the open deck.
  • Once a card is drawn, a card must also be discarded and put face up in the open deck. This can be the card that was drawn, should it be that this has no use to you. 
  • When the first player has acted, all other players will take turns acting in a clockwise manner.
  • Players will keep acting until a declaration is made.

Step 3. A Declaration Is Made

Step 3. declaring the rummy winner
  • As soon as a player has arranged all of their 13 cards in valid sequences and sets, he will make a declaration. 
  • A declaration will force all players to show their cards and immediately end the game round.
  • It’s possible to make a declaration even if valid sequences and sets aren’t made, but you never want to do this. This will come with a penalty of 80 points. 
  • For a declaration to be valid, it must include one pure sequence and one additional sequence. All other cards can be arranged in any type of sequences and sets. 

Step 4. Points Are Calculated

  • Depending on the game mode, points are either used to determine how much a player must pay the winner or used to determine a player’s standings. Don’t worry, we’ll get to this shortly. 
  • The winner of a game round (the one making a valid declaration first) always receives 0 points. 
  • All other players receive points based on their cards that are not part of any valid sequences or sets. For instance, if all cards are arranged in sequences and sets, except for 10 2 and K , these three cards will add points to a player. There are some exceptions to the rule though.
  • If a losing player doesn’t have any pure sequence, all cards will receive points no matter how they are arranged.
  • If a losing player only has a pure sequence and no additional sequence to it, all cards will receive points, except for the cards included in the pure sequence. 
  • A player can never receive more than 80 points in a game round. Even if cards add up to 100 points, only 80 points would be added. 
  • If a player has arranged all of his cards in a way that makes for a valid declaration, but isn’t the first player to declare, he will receive 2 points.  
  • All Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10 points
  • All 2s – 9s are worth as much as their values. In other words, a 2 is worth 2 points. 
  • All jokers are worth 0 points. 

Step 5. Penalties That Can Occur

  • In some circumstances penalties can occur, which will add points to a player. 
  • If an invalid declaration is made, the player suffers an 80 point penalty.
  • If a player drops out of a game round before drawing a card, he receives 20 points. 
  • If a player drops out in the middle of a game round, he receives 40 points. 

The Card Arrangements in Rummy

There are three ways that cards can be arranged in rummy:

  • Pure sequences
  • Impure sequences
  • Sets 
Rummy hand formation chart
Feel free to download, save or print this image

Pure Sequences

A pure sequence is made by three or more consecutive cards of the same suit. No joker can be included. 

Examples of pure sequences in Rummy

  1. K Q J
  2. J 10 9 8 7
  3. A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Impure Sequences

An impure sequence is made by two or more consecutive cards of the same suit, as well as one or more jokers. It’s the same thing as a pure sequence, but with jokers included. 

Examples of impure sequences in Rummy:

  1. K Q JOKER
  2. 9 JOKER J JOKER K
  3. A 2 3 JOKER JOKER 6 7 JOKER 9 JOKER

Sets

A set is made by any three or any four cards of the same value and can include or not include a joker. However, for a set to be valid, the cards must not contain two valued cards of the same suit (such as A A ).

Examples of sets in Rummy:

  1. 7 7 7
  2. K K K K
  3. A A A JOKER

Remember, a full card arrangement in Rummy must always include at least one pure sequence, along with any other sequence to be valid. Sets are not mandatory, but are usually easy to make. 

Game Modes in Rummy

There are a couple of different ways that Rummy can be played which have minor effects on the game. These game modes include:

Points Rummy 

Points Rummy is a popular and common way of playing Rummy. It is played as a cash game where every game round is separate from another. 

In Points Rummy, every point that a player receives is worth a certain amount of cash. This could for instance be ₹10. If playing with friends and family, you can decide this point value yourself.

The winner of each game round will win the entire pot. The term pot refers to the total amount of cash that all losing players will have to pay for their accumulated points. 

Here’s an example of Points Rummy:

  • Rajesh, Amar and Sahil are playing a game of Points Rummy where every point is worth ₹10. 
  • After 10 turns, Rajesh has arranged all of his cards in valid sets and sequences and makes a valid declaration.
  • Amar and Sahil now have to calculate their points based on the cards that they’re holding. Doing the calculation, Amar receives a point value of 20, while Sahil receives a point value of 45.
  • Amar has to pay Rajesh ₹200 (20 points * ₹10), while Sahil has to pay Rajesh ₹450 (45 points * ₹10). Thus, Rajesh won ₹650 in total and is now happy. 🙂

Pools Rummy 

This game mode of Rummy has a tournament like format. It’s always played with a buy in that forms a prize pool. For instance, 6 players may buy in for ₹100 each to form a ₹600 prize pool. The winner takes it all.  

There are usually two types of Pools Rummy; 101 pools and 201 pools. Whenever a player receives the mentioned number of points, he is eliminated. In other words, to win you have to avoid getting this number of points and be the last person standing. 

This type of Rummy requires several game rounds to determine a winner. 

Deals Rummy

Deals Rummy is also played in a tournament like format with a prize pool. In this game mode, a winner is decided as soon as a set amount of game rounds (deals) have been played. This could for instance be 2, 3 or 6. One player wins the entire prize pot, which is the player with the least number of accumulated points. 

Rummy Tournaments and Cash Games

Whether you want to play Rummy with your friends and family or enjoy the game online, it can either be played as a cash game or as a tournament. When we say tournament, this shouldn’t be confused with Deals Rummy and Pools Rummy that is played with a tournament like format. 

The distinct differences of tournaments and cash games are:

Cash GamesTournaments
Max players:2 – 6Up to 1000+
Places paid:Winner takes it allUp to 50+
Increasing point value:NoYes

In tournaments, you buy in for a set amount of cash to receive a number of chips. Based on the points that you accumulate on game rounds, you lose chips. The winner of a game round receives these chips. This is similar to Points Rummy. 

However, in tournaments, the point value will increase at certain intervals. For instance, if the point value starts at 5 chips for every point, it may be increased to 10 chips after 15 minutes. Once a player loses all of his chips, he is also out of the tournament. 

There is always more than one place paid in a tournament. While aiming for a first-place finish is the way to go, just staying alive to get into a paid position should be kept in mind. 

How to Play Rummy Online

If you want to compete against other players and enjoy Rummy over the internet, this has never been easier. There are a heap of real money Rummy sites in India that allow you to make smooth deposits with UPI and many other payment methods. Play well and have a bit of luck and you’ll win real cash.

You can find many different types of Rummy, such as the ones that we have explained in this how to guide. This includes Points, Pools and Deals Rummy, as well as cash games and tournaments. You can even find tournaments that are 100% free to participate in, which come with real money prizes. 

Getting started is very easy. All you have to do is choose one of many sites to play at, create a personal account and make a deposit (unless you’re playing for free). It’s a very straight-forward process. 

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Terminology in Rummy

  • Closed deck: These are the middle cards that are turned face down on the table, which players can draw from. 
  • Open deck: These are the middle cards that are turned face up on the table, which players can draw from and must also add a card to after each draw. 
  • Full count: The maximum number of points that a player can receive on a single game round. This is usually 80.
  • Declaration: This is an act done by a player who has arranged all of their cards in valid sequences and sets. When a player makes a declaration, everyone has to show their hands and the game round ends.
  • Drop: A term to describe players leaving a game that has started. Doing so comes with a point penalty. 
  • First drop: This is when a player leaves a Rummy game before drawing a card. Usually, a 20 point penalty is incurred.
  • Middle drop: This is when a player leaves a Rummy game any time after drawing a card. Usually, a 40 point penalty is incurred.

FAQ

Can you play rummy with 2 players?

Most definitely. Playing Rummy head-to-head is a very common way of enjoying the game.

How do you win in Rummy?

By making sets and sequences and minimizing points that you accumulate. You can read more about this here.

Are Aces worth 15 points in Rummy?

It depends on the Rummy variation you are playing. In some they are. In Indian Rummy aces are, however, worth 10 points.

Is Ace high or low in Rummy?

An Ace can be regarded as both a high and low card in Rummy.

How do you use the joker in Rummy?

The joker cards can substitute for any other card in Rummy. Therefore, they have many uses. You can pair a joker with two kings to make a set of kings or pair a joker with 10 and 9 of hearts to make a sequence. However, in order to make a pure sequence, a joker can never be included.

How do you count points in Rummy?

It varies depending on the Rummy variation you are playing. In Indian Rummy, all face cards and Aces are worth 10 points. Jokers are worth 0 points, while all numbered cards are worth their numeric values.

Can I play Rummy tournaments online?

Yes. There are plenty of Rummy tournaments that can be played online. Some require real money to buy in to, while others are freerolls that are free to participate in, yet can earn you real money. You can find a list of rummy sites with tournaments here.

How do I play Rummy against other people for real money online?

1. Pick one of many Rummy sites to play at
2. Create a personal account
3. Make a real money deposit
4. It’s as easy as that!

What is a declaration?

In Indian Rummy, a declaration is when a player decides to end a game round by showing their hand and forcing all players to show their hands. Whenever all 13 cards have been arranged in valid sets and sequences, a declaration is done in order to win.

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