16 Entertaining Rummy Variations to Play With Friends and Family

Enjoyed all over the world, Rummy is a game that comes in many different variations. In this article, we have aimed to gather all of the most interesting ones and briefly explained their unique rules and properties.

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Please note that the explanations of these Rummy variations aren’t 100% complete. They are only meant to give you a good overview of how the games are played. You must also know that many of the listed Rummy variations come with their own modifications where the rules have been slightly changed. There are many ways to play Rummy games and people come up with their own ideas. 

Do you know the basic rules of Rummy?

If not, we suggest reading our thorough how to guide before moving on. This guide covers 13 Card Rummy and will act as a good basis to fully understand other Rummy variations that exist. You can also check out our best tips and tricks for winning in rummy.

Good to Know Before We Get Started

  • Sequences often refer to three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, whereas pure sequences are the same, but with no joker cards included in them. 
  • Sets often refer to three or four cards of the same numerical value, but can include more cards in some Rummy variations. 
  • Meld is a common Rummy term to describe a combination of cards, such as a set or sequence.
  • Laying refers to placing melds face-up on the table as opposed to holding them in your hand. 
  • Laying off or building refers to adding additional cards to sets and sequences that have been melded on the table (on your own as well as your opponents’).
  • In every Rummy variation, points are either won or lost based on certain factors. This can be the number and types of melds created, as well as cards still left unarranged in a player’s hand.
  • All jokers, face cards, aces and numeric cards are worth a certain number of points which can vary widely from one Rummy variation to another. 

Now let’s get started checking out the Rummy variations!

1. 13 Card Rummy

Number of participants:2 – 6.
Decks in play:2 full decks with all jokers included.
Extra jokers:Random one picked on each game round.
Cards dealt to each player:13.
Main goal of the game:Melding sets and sequences to minimize points, and to win game rounds. The winning player of each game round often earns cash based on the losing players’ accumulated points.
How to win/end a game round:Arrange all of the 13 cards into pure sequences, impure sequences and sets. A minimum of one pure sequence along with any other sequence is required for a win.
Special feature:Completing a pure sequence + an additional sequence will heavily reduce a player’s points penalty on a game round that isn’t won.
Laying included?No. Cards are never placed on the table unless a player has arranged all of their cards and want to end a game round by showing. 

13 Card Rummy, which is also commonly known as Indian Rummy and Paplu, is the most played Rummy variation in India. It is quite a basic game which is frequently enjoyed online in three different game modes:

  • Points Rummy
    Played in single game rounds where the winning player earns money based on the losers’ points.
  • Pools Rummy
    Played over several game rounds in a knock-out format. Players are eliminated once they reach
    a certain number of points. Last man standing wins a prize.
  • Deals Rummy
    Played over a fixed number of game rounds. At the end of these, the player with the least accumulated points wins a prize.

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2. 10 Card Rummy

This Rummy variation is almost identical to the above described 13 Card Rummy. The main difference is that only one pure sequence is required to win a game round as opposed to one pure sequence + one additional sequence. In other words, in 10 Card Rummy you can win by melding a single pure sequence followed by sets and sets only. 

Yet another difference of this variation is the fact that only 10 cards are dealt to each player in every game round. 

3. 21 Card Rummy

Number of participants:2 – 6.
Decks in play:3 full decks with 1 joker included from each.
Extra jokers:Random one picked on each game round.
Cards dealt to each player:21.
Main goal of the game:Earning points by winning game rounds and creating so-called marriages. The winning player receives a fixed number of points from the losing players. Additionally, all players receive points for their melded marriages, and, in some variations for other value cards too.
Special feature:This rummy variation has lower and upper jokers. For instance, if 5 is the picked joker card, then 4 and 6 are the lower and upper jokers. Holding a sequence of these cards is called a marriage and is very valuable as you receive a lot of extra points. The more marriages, the more points.
How to win/end a game round:There are four different ways to win a game round in 21 Card Rummy:

– Melding all cards into pure sequences, impure sequences and sets.

– Making a total of three Tunnelas. A Tunnela is three identical cards, such as 8 8 8 .

– Making a total of eight Dublees. A Dublee is two identical cards put together, such as K K .

– Matching 8 joker cards. In other words, placing 8 jokers together on the table.
Laying included?Yes. However, cards can only be placed on the table after placing three qualifying melds that include pure sequences and Tunnelas.

Known as 21 Card Rummy or Marriage, this Rummy variation is quite an interesting one that comes with unique features that no other game on our list has. However, finding correct rules for this Rummy variation appears to be very difficult as players seem to have many different opinions on how the game is played. That’s Rummy in a nut-shell, but more confusing than you’d normally expect.  

The most hardcore version of the game is Wikipedia’s explanation of Marriage which originates from Nepal. In this, all players receive points for certain value cards regardless if they are melded and regardless if they win a game round or not. A simpler variation can be learned about at Khelplay, which also offers the game to be played for real money against other people.

4. Canasta

Number of participants:2, 3 or two teams of 2 people.
Decks in play:2 full decks with 2 jokers included from each.
Extra jokers:All deuces are jokers.
Cards dealt to each player:11.
Main goal of the game:Melding sets (no sequences) and winning game rounds to score points. The first player or team to reach 5,000 points wins.
Special features:Whenever a player holds the 3 or the 3 this must be placed face-up on the table. These cards can earn a player or team a lot of extra points and can be very valuable. Especially if all of them are collected.  

The entire discard pile which players can draw from and discard cards to can be picked up and added to a hand. However, by discarding certain cards, players can block their opponents and prevent this from happening.
How to win/end a game round:Arrange all cards into sets with no maximum limit to them. A set of 7 cards or more is known as a Canasta and at least one Canasta is required to win a game round.
Laying included?Yes. Finished sets can be placed on the table to secure their point values.

Created in Uruguay in 1939, Canasta is all about combining cards with the same numerical rank. Sequences are not included in this Rummy variation. Whenever a set is created, a player can choose to place this on the table. After that, a set can be built on by adding additional cards of the same value to it. Played in teams, a player is allowed to build on his partner’s sets. However, never on the opponents’. 

When a game round ends, all cards placed on the table will add points to a player, while all cards still left in the hand will give minus points. For the first laying in a game round, there is usually a points requirement, such as the points value of the set having to be 15, 50, 90 or 120. This requirement increases the more points a player or team has.  

Explained above is only one popular version of Canasta. You must know that this Rummy variation alone comes with over 10 different ways to be played.

5. Gin Rummy

Number of participants:2.
Decks in play:1 full deck with no jokers included.
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:10.
Main goal of the game:To score as many points as possible by melding sets and sequences, and winning game rounds by going Gin (melding all cards). First player to reach 100 points wins.
Special features:Aces are only considered as low cards and cannot be used to form high sequences such as A K Q .

When a game round ends, players are under certain circumstances allowed to build on their opponent’s melds.
How to win/end a game round:Arrange the majority of cards (not necessarily all) into sets and sequences.
Laying included?No. Melds are only placed on the table when a player ends a game round by knocking.

Dating back to the early 1900s, Gin Rummy, also known as Gin, is an old variation of Rummy which is often enjoyed between two people. Unlike many Rummy variations, a player can win a game round without having all of their cards arranged. This, however, is only true if the cards that are left unarranged have a total points value of 10 or lower. 

When a player ends a game round by laying down their melds (known as knocking), the opponent also gets to lay down theirs. Unless the game round was ended without any unarranged cards left in the hand (known as going Gin), the opponent is also allowed to add cards to the knocking player’s melds.

Do note that there are many variations of Gin Rummy, such as Straight Gin, Mahjong Gin, Oklahoma Gin, Hollywood Gin and Tedesco Gin.

6. Oklahoma Rummy (Arlington)

Number of participants:2 – 8.
Decks in play:2 full decks without the jokers.
Extra jokers:All deuces are jokers.
Cards dealt to each player:13.
Main goal of the game:Melding sets and sequences and winning game rounds to score points. First player to receive 1,000 points wins. In some variations, a total of 7 game rounds are played with the top scoring player after these rounds being the winner.
Special features:Similar to Canasta, the entire discard pile can under certain circumstances be picked up by a player. 

The Q is worth extra many points in this Rummy variation, which can either be a good or bad thing. This card is also not allowed to be discarded unless it’s the only card a player can discard.
How to win/end a game round:Be the first player to make valid melds out of all cards or all but one card (which can be discarded). In some variations, a game round can also end whenever the last card of the draw pile is pulled.
Laying included?Yes. Players can choose to lay down any finished melds on the table.

Oklahoma Rummy, also known as Arlington, is not to be confused with Oklahoma Gin which is a variation of Gin Rummy. This game is much more similar to Canasta

When a game round ends, all players receive plus points for any melded sets and sequences on the table and minus points for any cards in their hands. The player winning a game round also receives bonus points. Some variations of this Rummy game state that players can trade joker cards laid down in melds for the cards they represent. For instance, holding the 7 , a player could trade this card for the joker in the following meld: 5 6 Joker 8 .

7. Contract Rummy

Number of participants:3 – 8.
Decks in play:3 – 4 players: 2 full decks with 4 jokers.
5 – 6 players: 3 full decks with 6 jokers.
7 – 8 players: 4 full decks with 8 jokers.
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:10 – 12 (depends on the game round).
Main goal of the game:Players must complete so-called contracts that vary between game rounds. Doing so will limit the number of points they receive. The player with the least accumulated points after 7 game rounds is the winner.
Special features:Contracts have to be completed, which are certain combinations of sets and sequences.  

Players can buy discarded cards out of turn (up to 3 times).
How to win/end a game round:A player wins a game round whenever the contract of that game round is completed and all of his cards have been placed on the table, except for one which is discarded.
Laying included?Players can lay down any melded sets and sequences on the table, but only after the contract of the game round has been fulfilled. 

Contract Rummy is a type of Rummy variation that comes in many different playstyles that are similar to each other. It’s a progressive Rummy game where no game round is the same as the goal is to complete different contracts. These contracts are the following: 

Game RoundCards DealtContract
1102 sets
2101 set + 1 sequence
3102 sequences
4103 sets
5122 sets + 1 sequence
6121 set + 2 sequences
7121 set of 3 cards + 1 sequence of 7 cards
Unless mentioned otherwise, sets are 3 cards and sequences 4 cards

Once a completed contract has been placed on the table, players are free to add cards to them or lay down additional sets and sequences. When a game round ends, all cards on the table earns a player plus points while all cards left in the hand earn minus points.  

In addition to the contracts, a unique thing about this Rummy variation is buying cards out of turn. Any player can at any time ask to buy a discarded card (up to 3 times). Doing so, he would also have to pick up an additional card from the draw pile. Thus, the total number of cards in his hand would be increased.

8. Kalooki Rummy (Jamaican Rummy)

Kalooki, also known Kaluki or Jamaican Rummy, is a Rummy variation very similar to Contract Rummy, commonly played in Jamaica. There are a couple of difference though which include the following:

  • The game is played in 9 instead of 7 game rounds.
  • Multiple melded sets are not allowed to be of the same numeric value. 
  • Multiple melded sequences are not allowed to be of the same suit.
  • Jokers are worth 50 points instead of 20.
  • The contracts that have to be completed are different.

Here are the contracts in Jamaican Rummy:

Game RoundCards DealtContract
1103 sets
2112 sets + 1 sequence
3121 set + 2 sequences
4133 sequences
5134 sets
6143 sets + 1 sequence
7152 sets + 2 sequences
8161 set + 3 sequences
9174 sequences
Sets are 3 cards and sequences 4 cards

9. Shanghai Rum (California Rummy)

Originating from China, Shanghai Rum, also known as California Rummy, is yet another Rummy variation based on Contract Rummy. There are differences though, which include the following:

  • The game is played in 10 rounds with different contracts.
  • In each game round, 11 cards are dealt to all players.
  • When a player buys a discarded card, he must pick up 2 extra cards instead of 1. 
  • On the 9th and 10th game round, a player can buy cards up to 4 times instead of 3. 
  • When a player has laid down a contract, he is no longer allowed to make any buys. 

Here are the contracts in Shanghai Rum:

Game RoundCards DealtContract
1112 sets
2111 set + 1 sequence
3112 sequences
4113 sets
5112 sets + 1 sequence
6111 set + 2 sequences
7113 sequences
8111 set + 1 sequence of 10 cards
9113 sets 1 sequence of 5 cards
10113 sequences of 5 cards
Unless mentioned otherwise, sets are 3 cards and sequences 4 cards

10. Dummy Rummy

Just like Shanghai Rum and Kalooki Rummy, this Rummy variation is based on contracts and played similarly to Contract Rummy. There is one thing that really makes it stand out though:

  • Sequences do not have to be in suit (source), which is normally the case no matter the Rummy variation you play. This means that a sequence of 4 5 6 7 would be valid.

Additionally, the contracts in Dummy Rummy are as many as 12, with some being quite unique. Here are all of them:

Game RoundCards DealtContract
1112 sets of 3 cards
2111 set of 3 cards + 1 sequence of 4 cards
3112 sets of 4 cards
4112 sequences of 4 cards
5111 set of 4 cards + 1 sequence of 4 cards
6112 sets of 3 cards + 1 sequence of 4 cards
7111 set of 3 cards + 1 sequence of 7 cards
8113 sets of 3 cards
9112 sets of 5 cards
10112 sequences of 5 cards
11118 sets of 2 cards
12111 sequence of 10 cards

You must also know that whenever a player decides to buy a card from the discard pile, two extra cards must be picked up and not just one as in Contract Rummy.

11. 500 Rummy

Number of participants:2 – 8.
Decks in play:2 – 4 players: 1 full deck with up to 2 jokers (optional).
5 – 8 players: 2 full decks with up to 4 jokers (optional).
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:With 2 players: 13 cards.
With 3+ players: 7 cards.
Main goal of the game:Melding sets and sequences and putting these down on the table to score points. First player to score 500 points wins.
Special feature:A player in turn can draw ANY card that has been discarded. Doing so, he must also pick up all cards that have been discarded after this particular card. 
How to win/end a game round:A game round can end in two ways; once a player has melded all of his cards into sets and sequences and placed these on the table, or, once there are no more cards left to draw from the stock pile.
Laying included?Yes. Players can at any time put down melds on the table or single cards that contribute to melds.

Unlike the other Rummy variations listed so far, 500 Rummy comes with the unique feature of being able to draw any card from the discard pile and not just the top one. This means that all discarded cards must be visible at all times.

Picking up a card from the discard pile can only be done if the card can be instantly used to add a meld to the table or to build on an already existing meld that has been previously laid. All cards that are placed on top of the picked-up card must also be added to the player’s hand.   

Whenever a game round ends, a player’s score is calculated by adding together the value of all cards laid on the table and subtracting this with the value of all cards still left in the player’s hand.

12. Persian Rummy

This variation of Rummy is the same as the above explained 500 Rummy, with the following differences:

  • Played in two teams with two players in each team.
  • One full deck is used along with four joker cards.
  • Players in a team can add cards to each other’s sets and sequences laid down on the table, but never on their opponent’s. 
  • Joker cards cannot be used in sets and sequences. Instead, jokers alone can make up their own hands which are worth extra many points. 

13. Dealer’s Gambit

Like Persian Rummy, this Rummy variation is based on 500 Rummy. While its gameplay is similar, it’s considered a much more strategic version thanks to one unique feature. The dealer of a game round gets to decide 1 of 3 different qualities that the joker card will have: 

  • Wild Card. As is normally the case, the joker will act as a wild, but will not be worth any points.
  • Double Card. The joker will not act as a wild. Instead, it can be placed on top of a melded set or sequence, which will double the points value of that meld. If done, the meld cannot be built on.
  • Split Card. The joker will not act as a wild. Instead, it can be used when picking up a discarded card. If it is used, all cards that are under the picked-up card will be removed from the game round. All cards above the picked one will still have to be picked up.

14. Panguingue

Number of participants:2 – 15.
Decks in play:8 decks with 40 cards in each (all 8s, 9s and 10s are removed). No jokers are included.
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:10.
Main goal of the game:Earn points from players by winning game rounds and melding special hands that earn extra points. 
Special features:Game is usually played competitively with chips that are worth a certain amount of cash. 

Any card that is picked must always be used in a meld placed on the table, otherwise discarded. 

Generally, sets must either be of the same suit (like 8 8 8 ) or completely different suits (like 8 8 8 ).

The 3 , 5 and 7 are considered value cards while all other cards are referred to as none-value.
How to win/end a game round:Be the first player to make sets and sequences out of all cards (10 dealt ones + 1 that is drawn).
Laying included?Cards can be placed on the table, but are only allowed to be placed if the drawn card is included in the meld.

Panguingue, also known as Pan, is a highly competitive Rummy variation that is very different from the previously explained ones. It is thought to have originated from the Philippines and it used to be played a lot in Las Vegas and American casinos. 

The game is preferably played with chips that represent real money. On every game round, players have to put in an ante to participate. Once they have looked at their cards, they can choose to fold or continue playing. This is a crucial move as any picked-up card must always be melded immediately.  

Whenever a player wins a game round, he will win all antes. Additionally, every player that did not fold must also pay him for his valid conditions. These conditions are special melds that include the following:

  • A set of value cards of different suits (1 chip)
  • A set of value cards of the same suit (2 chips)
  • A set of none-value cards of the same suit (1 chip)
  • A sequence starting with an Ace or ending with a King (1 chip)

This Rummy variation can be played with one or more decks having their spades removed. If so, making a condition in spades is worth double the chips.

15. Penang Rummy

Number of participants:2 – 5 (4 recommended).
Decks in play:2 full decks with 6 or 8 jokers included.
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:20.
Main goal of the game:To stay alive and to get rid of cards by melding sets and sequences, and building on those already placed on the table. The key is to minimize points in your hand. 
Special feature:Players cannot draw or discard any cards, but can only play with those that are dealt to them.
How to win/end a game round:A game round is won whenever a player has melded all of his cards into sets and sequences. It can also end when all players are deemed dead as a result of not being able to place anymore cards on the table.
Laying included?Yes. Placing cards on the table is a must to stay alive.

Thought to be originating from Malaysia, Penang Rummy is quite a special Rummy variation. Unlike all other listed ones, there is no drawing or discarding of cards. 

In every game round, players are required to put down a melded set or sequence on the table, or, build on an already existing one that a player has laid down. Failure to do so will result in the player being eliminated from the game round. 

In difference to most Rummy variations, you want to be very careful about the melds you choose to place on the table. These will give your opponent’s more options of staying alive and possibly allow them to get rid of all of their cards. At the same time, you must minimize the points you hold in your hand. 

Whenever a game round ends, all players will receive points based on the cards left in their hands.

16. Robber’s Rummy

Number of participants:2 or more.
Decks in play:Two full decks and 2 – 6 joker cards.
Extra jokers:None.
Cards dealt to each player:11.
Main goal of the game:Melding sets and sequences.
Special feature:Cards laid on the table can be rearranged an unlimited number of times.
How to win/end a game round:Melding all cards into sets and sequences. 
Laying included?Cards can be placed on the table, but the first meld must score at least 40 points to be valid.

Dating back to the early 20th century, Robber’s Rummy plays like a basic Rummy game but comes with a twist that changes everything up. The unique feature of this Rummy variation is that any cards that have been laid on the table are allowed to be rearranged to benefit a player. Here’s an example:

  • 8 9 10 J Q is placed on the table and you hold another 10 . Cards can now be arranged as 8 9 10 and J Q where your 10 would fit behind the J .

According to rules posted at Wikipedia, this variation seems to be played in single game rounds where a final winner is crowned in each. However, one can easily add their own points system to make the game more interesting and last longer.

Other Rummy Variations 

There are many Rummy variations, to say the least. Here are some that we haven’t mentioned in this article as they have been deemed too similar to the ones already explained:

  • Bing Rummy
  • Biriba
  • Buraco
  • Carioca
  • Conquian
  • Continental Rummy
  • Desmoche
  • German Rummy
  • Liverpool Rummy
  • Machiavelli
  • Rumino
  • Ten Pennies
  • Tong-its
  • Treppenrommé
  • Viennese Rummy
  • Zioncheck

Check them out if you like to, but bear in mind that we already have and didn’t find them worth adding. 

Making Your Own Rummy Variation

Rummy is a game that comes in many different variations and many of these have derived from people and cultures making their own adjustments to fundamentals that are pretty much the same. Creating your own Rummy variation to your own particular liking isn’t very difficult. Here are some ideas on how you can do it: 

  • Set limits to how long sets and sequences are allowed to be.
  • Decide if joker cards are allowed to be swapped from melds placed on the table.
  • Decide if laid melds are allowed to be rearranged or not.
  • Include as many jokers as you like (any card can be a joker) or exclude them all together.
  • Switch up the number of cards that are dealt to each player.
  • The number of cards received could be different for the dealer.
  • Be creative and create your own contracts that must be completed in each game round.
  • Play with points or spice things up by setting a real cash value to the points.
  • Whenever the draw pile runs out of cards, re-shuffle the cards and create a new draw pile or decide that a game round is over.
  • Set your own rules to the discard pile. For instance, when a player is allowed to take a card from it and if he has to take extra cards along with it.
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