A Beginner’s Guide to Rummy

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Rummy is one of the most fun card games to play with friends. But, as with just about every other type of card game, you can now play rummy online for real money.

I first encountered rummy on a trip to India about 12 years ago. It wasn’t in a casino, though, but rather in an apartment with some friends. I’d legitimately never heard of or seen it before, so I watched for a while as they battled it out trying to make “runs” and “sets” to emerge victorious.

Eventually, I joined my friends and played a few hands. It was a fun game, but I forgot all about rummy until I saw it in an online casino recently. After realizing that rummy is available in real money casinos, I figured some of you might like to learn more about it.

In this article, I’m going to cover:

So, without further ado, here’s my guide to the card game known as rummy.

The Objective of Rummy

I’d usually begin by explaining how to play rummy, but I think it will be helpful to explain the objective first. This game is a little bit different than what you might be used to if you play poker, blackjack, and other casino card games.

The objective of rummy is to try and arrange your cards into two different types of hands.

  1. Runs These are consecutive sequences of at least three cards of the same suit. For example, you could have a three, four, and five of hearts.
  2. Sets These consist of at least three cards of the same rank. For example, you could have three eights. Sets are also sometimes called “books.”

In rummy, aces can be either high or low, but they can’t be both.

It’s possible to swap cards and take other players’ discarded ones. I’ll explain more about that below. In the end, the player who arranges all of his or her cards with only one card left to eliminate wins classic rummy games.

How to Play Rummy

In this section, I’m going to explain how to play classic rummy with friends. I’ll then explain how to play it online at online casinos.

  • First, every player gets 10 cards. If you’re playing with five players, each player gets six cards. If there are more than six players, you’ll need to use two decks of cards and each player gets seven cards.
  • The designated dealer will deal the cards and place the remaining cards in the center as “stock.” She’ll turn the first card over (face up) and set it beside the stock as the first card in the “discard pile.”
  • The player to the left of the dealer takes one card first. She may take one from either the stock or the discard pile. She can then attempt to make certain combinations. If she’s unable to do so, she must discard one card.
  • The next player may then take the discarded card or a new one from the stock. He can then attempt to make combinations. The play continues like this all around the table in a clockwise manner.
  • If the stock runs out, the dealer will shuffle the discard pile, and they become the stock. The game will continue until one player has made runs and sets out of all of their cards except one, which she will place in the discard pile.
  • When a player believes she has won, she’ll tell the others that she only has one card left. She will then show that her other cards are arranged into sets and runs and will discard her final card.
  • Once the winner is declared, other players may total their hands. Aces are worth 15 points, face cards and 10s are worth 10 points, and other cards are worth their face value. If you’re playing in a rummy tournament, the player with the highest total is eliminated, and a new round begins.

Basic Rummy Rules

Every card game has etiquette, which must be followed by all players.

These are the rules of rummy:

  • You can’t pick up the top discarded card and then return it to the discard pile. You must return another card.
  • If you accidentally pick up two stock cards, you must return the second one to the top. The player to your left can then “peek” at that card and decide if he or she wants it. If not, it has to be returned to the middle of the stock.
  • You may play rummy with wild cards. At the beginning, decide which cards will act as wilds. For example, some players designate jokers as wilds, while others designate twos as wilds. Players can use them to substitute for any required card to make a run or a set.

Some sites have different payouts for runs and sets containing wild cards, referring to them as “impure sequences.”

Playing Rummy Online

Recognizing the popularity of rummy, several online casinos have begun offering it for real money.

When you play rummy at an online casino, the RNG acts as another player. This means you’ll be playing against a piece of software which understands the rules of rummy.

I looked around and couldn’t find any casinos offering live dealer rummy. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a thing in the future. Rummy is massively popular in India and other Asian countries, and players from that part of the world are coming online fast, so I would expect to see live dealer rummy games soon enough.

There are also free rummy apps which allow you to play against other players for fun. I’ve seen these on Facebook and in the Google Play Store. These could be a great way to practice online rummy before you play for real money.

Keep in mind, there are pros and cons to playing rummy online. The benefits are that you’ll always have an opponent to play against, games are relatively cheap to enter (£0.50 per hand minimums), and that you can play as you please.

The obvious downside is that you’re playing against software, and most players will agree that software programmed specifically to play Rummy is probably better at it than they are.

Rummy Variants

As Rummy has spread across the world, a few popular variants have gained traction. I’ll explain the differences between them here:

Indian Rummy

This variant follows the same rules as classic rummy, except that each player starts with 13 cards. Indians are mad about rummy. It’s probably the most popular card game on the subcontinent.

Gin Rummy

This variant has its roots in the United States and was originally an offshoot of Whiskey Poker. It’s played between two players with 10 cards each from one deck of cards. If you play Gin Rummy online, remember that aces can only serve as ones in this variant

Rummy 500

Up to eight players can play this rummy variant. You’ll use two decks and get seven cards each, to begin with. If there are only two players, you’ll get 13 cards each. In Rummy 500, you lay down your “melds” or sequences as you make them, meaning other players can see your progress. You can even add new cards to sequences you have already laid down.

As you lay down your melds, count your points. When someone wins, the total of all of his cards are added together and added to the total of the player who laid down their meld. The ultimate winner is the first to score 500 points.

As you can see, Rummy 500 is a little more complex and will require some higher-level rummy strategy to win. If you’re new to rummy, start with one of the other variants until you have mastered it, then graduate to Rum 500 (the short-hand name for this game).

Five Solid Rummy Tips

Much like poker, rummy is a game of skill. You can practice it, get better at it, and eventually master it. I’ve written this guide for rummy beginners, so I’m going to offer tips for beginners, too. These will help you learn faster and avoid some of the common mistakes which rummy newbies make.

  • Try Free Rummy – Start with a free rummy app or perhaps a Facebook game. This game genuinely takes time to learn and master. Play at least a few dozen games for free before you think about playing for real money. You’ll know when you’re ready.
  • Manage Your Bankroll – This is a tip which can apply to all casino games. Don’t get carried away when you’re winning, and don’t start chasing losses by making bigger bets. When you can’t control anything else, you can still control your bankroll. Good advice is to never risk more than 1% of your bankroll per game of rummy.
  • Start Small for Real Money – When you do decide to play rummy for real money, start at the low stakes tables. Why? Because advanced players aren’t interested in raiding you for £0.10 per game. You’ll find them at the higher stakes tables. You’ll want to start small because, as any experienced player of any card game will tell you, the psychology of the game changes when you’re playing for real money.
  • Pay Attention to Others – Once you’re comfortable with the rules and basics of rummy, start trying to focus on what other players are discarding. As you become more advanced, you’ll start to get a feeling for what they likely have or don’t have based on what they discard and pick up from the discard pile. Remember, if they took a card from the discard pile instead of the stock, that was a conscious choice. Likewise, be aware that other players are watching you for clues.
  • Discard Higher Cards – Obviously, you don’t want to discard high cards which will help you make a meld, but if you’re struggling, discarding high cards can help you survive when the points are totaled up if another player shows before you. If things aren’t looking good when you’ve been playing for a while, start getting rid of cards worth more points.

Rummy Summary

Despite its simplicity, rummy is one of the most mentally challenging card games I have played. There are various levels to this game, and aside from poker, it probably involves more skill than just about any other card game. You need to assess multiple scenarios, such as what you have, what potential melds are possible, and what other players may or may not have.

For this reason, I enjoy rummy a lot and will be playing it regularly. It’s definitely more fun to play with friends or in a tournament with other players than it is against a computer program, but then again, casino rummy offers a great opportunity to practice any time you feel like it.

Go ahead and give rummy a try. You’ll soon find out why it’s one of the most popular card games in the world.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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