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Rummy is a simple card game that is popular all over the world, and sees two or more players attempt to lay down sets of matching or running cards. Rummy is most often played with a regulation set of 52 playing cards, and uses a scoring format that sets a positive value on each card laid down, and a negative value on the cards that remain in your hand when a game is over.
Rummy's origins are hard to pin down - such are the number of similar games that have been played throughout history. Some cite early 19th century China as the birthplace of rummy as we know it today, and there are certainly some similarities between rummy and the hugely popular game of Mahjong, which is played with tiles instead of cards.
What equipment do you need to play rummy?
There are two things required for a physical game of rummy, as follows:
A regulation set of 52 playing cards, with the jokers removed (it's worth noting some rummy varieties use more than one pack, and some include jokers).
A method of keeping score, which will typically be a simple pen and piece and paper combination.
Rummy is also widely available online. You can access online rummy through desktop and mobile devices, and there are many websites that offer the game free of charge. You'll also find some versions of rummy that can be downloaded to your device and played offline.
How does a game of rummy play out?
Here follows an outline for a game of classic rummy:
A game of rummy begins with cards being dealt in a clockwise direction to the players. The dealer, decided by who draws the highest card from a shuffled pack, always deals to his left first and deals to himself last.
The remaining cards are placed down on the table, with one card upturned to form a separate discard pile.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first and can either draw from the discard pile, or take a face down card from the main pile. After each turn, a player must discard a card - face up - to the top of the discard pile.
When players achieve matching sets of three of four number or picture cards (for example, three kings) they lay them down on the table. You can also lay down runs of three or more cards, but these must all be of the same suit.
The hand ends when the first player has used all of their cards. It's at that point the scores are calculated.
How are the scores calculated in rummy?
The following rules apply when it comes to rummy scoring:
Aces are worth one point.
Tens, jacks, queens and kings score 10 points.
All other cards score their face value.
Cards laid down in sets count as a positive to your score. So have three aces laid down when the game ends would score you 3 x 15 = 45. Cards that remain in your hand, however, count as a negative score. So having two aces left in your mean would be -30 applied to your score.
Depending on what's been agreed before the game you might set an overall winning total score (500 is common), or a time limit or number of hands that you'll play for. The winner will always be the player with the highest total of points at the time the game ends.
How do I get started playing rummy?
Playing online rummy is a great way to learn the game. There are a lot of really good sites to choose from, with some offering free rummy and others the option to play rummy for real cash. Best practice is to visit an online rummy portal and look for advice on the best sites to play at.