How to Play Rummy

RummyRummy proves to be the ideal card game for those who want something easy to understand, exciting to play, and enough variety to make the game different every time. It’s a format that is extremely flexible and incorporates many different variations that can all be traced back to the foundational style of play. Once you learn how to play rummy, you can then play for fun or try it out for real money at online gambling websites or at home with others you know.

There are certain games which are known for being casino staples, such as poker or blackjack. But there are others are considered more like home games, even though you could also play them for real money. Rummy stands out as maybe the most popular of all those home card games, one that you can learn without too much trouble and can enjoy for a lifetime.

In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to play rummy. We’ll explain the rules and sequence of play for the basic game while also going over some of the most popular versions of it. And we’ll also give you some tips to help you become a better player while also answering some of the questions people ask most about the game.

What Is Rummy?

There are some conflicting tales about when and where rummy originated. That’s because there are similar games that existed in history, and rummy borrowed elements from it. You can even find games that aren’t played with cards, such as dominoes, that include aspects of rummy rules and gameplay.

Different games throughout history in regions like Mexico, India, and China all have aspects of rummy in them. The game is usually dated back to some point around the 18th or 19th century. Whatever the case, there have been many different spins on rummy that have arisen over the years so that you never have to get bored just playing the same old version.

What do all rummy games have in common?
  • Players take turns picking cards from either the main pile, also known as the stock, or the discard pile to add to their hand.
  • They also get to discard whatever card they choose from their hand on each turn.
  • The goal is to form combinations of cards which can be laid on the table, thereby lessening the number of cards in your hand.
  • The vast majority of rummy games feature rounds that ends when one player has laid all their cards on the table.
  • Most rummy games are determined by point totals.

Beyond that point, there are a number of slight rules variations which distinguish each specific version of rummy. We’ll talk about those variations later in the article. For now, let’s take a look at the basic version of rummy which tends to serve as the foundation for all others.

How to Play Basic Rummy

To start, we need to provide you with some Rummy terms to help you understand our explanation of the gameplay.

  • Melding: Forming a combination of at least three cards of either the same rank (sets) or consecutive rank and same suit (runs)
  • Laying off: Adding one or more connecting cards to an existing meld, such as the nine of spades onto the ten, jack, and queen of spades
  • Discarding: Putting one card into the discard pile at the end of each round
  • Exhausting the stock: Going through the entire deck twice without someone winning the round
  • Going out: Getting rid of all your cards

BicycleThe rummy that we’re going to call the basic game is the one that you’ll find described on, since they’re one of the most popular of all playing card brands. This version is also among the simplest of all versions. Your goal is to be the first one out of cards in each hand, ideally while your opponents are still holding a lot of cards.

How many cards you get depends at the start of the hand depends on how many people are playing:

  • 2 players = 10 cards each
  • 3 to 4 players = 7 cards each
  • 5 to 6 players = 6 cards each

One player deals the cards and, after giving each player their cards face down, they will take the top card off the remaining deck and turn that face-up. That is the beginning of the discard pile.

Play begins to the left of the dealer. That player must do one of two things after assessing their cards:

  • Take the top card from the discard pile
  • Take the top card from the deck

How do they make this decision? By assessing if the card from the discard pile will help them with any possible “melds.”

Melds are the basic objective during rummy play, as they will help you get rid your cards. Without any melds, your card total will never go down.

What are melds? They are a group of at least three cards that have some connection to each other. Here are the two basic types of melds in rummy:

  • A set: Three or four cards of the same rank (like three 7s or four aces)
  • A run: Three of more cards of the same suit in consecutive rank (like 3, 4 and 5 of hearts)

If you have a meld, you can choose to lay it on the table face up for the other players to see after you pick up your card from the main deck or the discard pile. You do not have to do this. There are both advantage and disadvantages to holding onto your melds for a while, which we’ll discuss on this page.

One other possible thing you can do during your turn is to “lay off” cards onto an existing meld, either yours or somebody else’s. A layoff is when you put one or more cards on the table that connect to a meld already on the table. For example:

  • If the run 6-7-8 of hearts was on the table, you could lay off the five of hearts or the nine of hearts. In fact, if you had them, you could lay off the nine and 10 of hearts.
  • If the set King-King-King was on the table, you could lay down the fourth king in the deck if you had it.

Regardless of whether you have any meld or lay-downs to show, the last step for your hand will be to discard one of your cards. You’ll ideally discard a card that you won’t need for a possible meld, while also being aware of the possibility of other players needing it.

Below, you’ll find a couple of notes on discards:

  • If you pick up from the discard pile to start your turn, you cannot then take that card and put it right back in the discard pile. You must hold onto it for at least one turn. If you pick up from the discard pile, your discard must come from the cards you had in your hand at the start of your hand.
  • If you pick up from the stock, you can discard that card immediately if you don’t think it’s helpful to your hand.

The Stock Pile

CardsThere will be times when all cards form the stock pile are used. The rummy term for this is “exhausting the stock.” When you do this, the common form of rummy requires that you simply turn the discard pile over and make that the new stock pile of cards for the game.

This is a rule that is more flexible than most. Some people might choose to shuffle the discard pile before turning it into the stock pile. That will keep from seeing the same cards in the same sequences.

There are certain rummy games that you can play for real money which insist that if the stock has been exhausted twice, it means the hand is a stalemate and nobody wins. But that can be a frustrating result after playing out a round for so long. But it’s totally up to you how you want to proceed in these situations, as rummy if malleable enough to let you choose the way you wish to play.

The End of a Rummy Round

Play will continue from player to player in this fashion until one player gets rid of all of their cards. There are two ways that this might happen, and again, the rules that you use can have an effect on this sequence:

  • You put a meld or a lay-down on the table that complete wipes out all the cards you have.
  • You put a meld or a lay-down on the table and put your last card, which isn’t connected to a meld in any way, on the discard pile.

The first scenario is one that might not be allowed in some rummy games. Those games might require you to make a discard on your last play to go out. Take a look at this example:

  • The last two cards in your hand are four of diamonds and five of diamonds. You pull from the stock pile and end up with the six of diamonds. That gives you a three-card meld.
  • If there’s no rule about the last play needing a discard, you can simply go out by putting down the meld.
  • But if you’re playing the version where you need to discard on the go-out play, you wouldn’t be able to go out with this hand. You’d need to discard one of those three cards, and the other two wouldn’t make a meld on their own. Instead, you’d have to wait until you can lay down the two cards then make a discard to go out.

Rummy Scoring

The person that goes out first in basic rummy is the one who wins that round. How many points they earn depends on the cards left in the hands of the players who are left. That’s why it’s important, if you can’t win a hand, to hopefully not have too much left in your hand when someone else goes out.

Scoring for rummy is as follows:

  • Ace = 1 point
  • 2 through 9 = points equal to the rank of the card
  • 10, Jack, Queen, King = 10 points

Let’s take a look at an example. Imagine that you’re playing two-person rummy and you go out first. Your opponent has the following cards in their hand:

Ace of Spades, King of Spades, Ten of Hearts, Eight of Hearts

The values for these cards are as follows:

  • Ace = 1
  • King = 10
  • Ten = 10
  • Eight = 8

Adding all that up, you’d win 29 points. If you were playing a game with more than two players, the winner would get the combined totals of all the other players’ remaining cards.

Keep in mind that the winner gets credit for the cards still in their opponents’ hands, not the ones that have already been melded and plays. However, the winner does get credit for any melds that opponents have that they haven’t yet laid down, perhaps because they were holding out for a rummy.

What Is a Rummy?

A rummy takes place when you manage to show all your melds at once and go out at the same time. In other words, once you put down a single meld or a lay down, you are ineligible to get a rummy. If you can hold off putting anything down until you have all your ducks lined up in a row, so to speak, you can indeed get a rummy.

What is the value of a rummy? Well, you’ll get double what you normally would when it comes to the value of your opponents’ cards. In other words, if the value of what they had left was 50, and you won the round with a rummy, you would get 100 points (2 times 50).

The downside of a rummy is that you are running the risk of getting caught with a lot of cards in your hand and helping your opponents much more if one of them goes out first. Most people only play for a rummy if they get a very good deal where there might be a meld or two, or very close to it, already in place.

But on the average hand, playing for a rummy could lead to big problems, especially in a multiple-player game where you have a smaller chance of winning the round.

Playing to the Finish

How do you know who wins the overall game? Well, that depends on what scoring system you use. You can play to a certain point total or a certain number of hands.

In either case, make sure you have a pencil and paper nearby to keep track. You might play till someone reaches a certain milestone, such as 100, 200, or 500 points. Or you could play for set number of hands, maybe 10, 20, or 50 if you have a lot of time on your hands.

Playing Rummy for Real Money

Rummy is a game that’s often played for fun, but there can also be a monetary element to it. In informal games, pennies or other small change might used for stakes. But once you play online rummy, those stakes can get much higher.

There are two ways you can go about playing rummy for real money. The first is to decide on a monetary value for each point scored. For example, if you made every point a penny, then a win of 100 points would be a dollar.

The other way to do it would be to put up a certain amount of money for stakes at the start of play, with the winner taking the bulk or all of the pot. This is the way that real money rummy is often played in an online setting. No matter how you choose to do it, playing rummy for real money can certainly increase the excitement.

Different Types of Rummy Games

As we’ve mentioned, rummy is a base game for many other popular variations. What you’ll find is that several of the rules overlap in some of the games that use typical playing cards. There might just be a tweak here or there that changes up the action. Below we have included a complete list of rummy games:

There are also games that are based on the principle of going out before everyone else but achieve that without traditional playing cards. No matter how they do it, these rummy variations are all quite popular. Check them out and you might find one that’s right up your alley.

Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy incorporates the concept of melds in the same way as regular rummy. It also includes the idea of picking a card from either the stock or the discard pile then discarding a card from your hand. But the big difference is that you won’t be laying down the melds as they come, rather holding on to them until laying them down all at once and going out.

In other words, as you form a meld, you’ll arrange it in your hand so you know it’s there, but your opponents won’t know that you have it.

One other option in this game is a knock, which allows you to lay down your cards even if they’re not all connected in melds. The catch is that the value of the cards not included in melds has to be lower than five.

Gin rummy takes great patience to put together a winning hand, especially since you’ll be playing with a 10-card hand. You have to keep track of all of that while also looking at the cards your opponents are picking up from the discard pile. It takes great concentration, and you need to know when to hold on to a card and when to let it go.


Mahjong LogoConsider mahjong to be something along the lines of rummy with tiles. Each tile contains a number and a symbol on it, and you can match it using either of those characteristics. The game is generally played by four players, each with 13 tiles at the start of play.

The game developed in China and was then spread throughout the Asian continent, taking on many different variations along the way. It resembles rummy in that the ideal way to win is to form three groups of three matching tiles and another group of two. But there are other ways to win depending on certain special symbols you might acquire.

There are also ways you can take tiles away from your opponents and take them for your own, which is a bit different from what can be done in rummy. One of the special elements of mahjong is that it’s a visually striking game. But the strategy, which you can learn pretty quickly once you pay for a while, is what will help determine the winner.


Tonk is another form of rummy that uses traditional playing cards. The basic setup is similar to standard rummy, which means you’ll be drawing from a discard pile or stock pile, forming melds, and laying down during your turns. But there are differences that crop up as the game goes on.

First of all, if your original deal includes melds that are worth more than 50 points, you can immediately call out “tonk” and win the hand. Another way to win is to knock at any point and, when all hands are revealed, you have the lowest point total remaining. There’s a penalty if you knock and you don’t have the lowest total, besides the normal setback of losing the hand.

You can also go out in Tonk as in standard rummy by either melding to get rid of all your cards or melding and discarding. Scores are tallied in a similar fashion to standard rummy. Many people play Tonk because they like the strategic opportunity of ending the hand at any time without going out.


UNO LogoUno is a simplified form of rummy that makes it a bit easier for kids to be involved. There are cards involved, only instead of suits, there are different colors that you have to try to match. The process of discarding and taking new cards is similar to rummy as well.

But the big difference with Uno is that you won’t be forming melds. Instead, you’ll be trying to match the card on top of the discard pile in either color or number. In some forms of Uno, you have to draw from the stock deck over and over until you can match, which can really fill up your hand with a lot of cards in a hurry.

Uno also includes specialty cards that can change up the action and help the player who gets them in their hand. And while the object of Uno is also to get rid of all your cards, there is one more catch involved. A player has to announce “uno” when they are down to one card or else they are hit with a penalty.

500 Rummy

Again, this is a type of rummy with many different formats. But there are some key differences in this game that separate it from basic rummy. For one, even the player that doesn’t go out first can also score points. The total score at the end of the round is the difference between the total point value of the melds and lay downs you’ve achieved and the value of what cards you have left in your hand once someone does go out.

The other key difference is that the discard pile is spread out so that you can see all the cards in it. This allows you to pick up from deeper in the pile if there’s a card that suddenly becomes useful to you. When you do make this pickup, you have to take all of the cards in the discard pile, which puts more cards in your hand even as you’re picking up melds.

Many versions of 500 rummy include slightly different card values. For instance, any two through nine counts as 5 points, while an ace counts as 15, making them valuable in melds. The game is known as 500 Rummy because that’s usually the predetermined target score that has to be reached.

Rummy Strategy Tips

Watch Everything

You have to pay attention to everything that’s going on. Many novice players get locked in on their opponents and don’t realize what the other players are doing. That could lead you to depend on a meld that is impossible because the cards you need have already been discarded.

Avoid Helping Your Opponents

Don’t help out your opponents. If the opponent scheduled to take their turn right after you has already picked up the five of hearts, it’s probably going to help him if you discard another five or even the four or six of hearts.

By the same token, if the opponent taking the turn before you has just picked up a card, discarding something connected to it can ensure they won’t get it unless the stock gets turned over.

How Are the Other Players Doing?

You have to be aware of where others are at in the game. If you see a player with one card remaining and you still have a bunch left in your hand, it might be a sign that you probably aren’t going to be the one to go out in that round. That means you might want to think about getting rid of your higher-valued cards to cut your losses.

When to Go for Rummy

Be smart about going for a rummy, it is a risky thing to go for. It can be very valuable to get a rummy and get those double points. But if you try for it every hand, you’re bound to get caught holding a lot of cards, which will really help out your opponent.

Consistent Strategy

Try to keep your strategy consistent. Many times, it can get frustrating if you get a run of bad luck, but you have to remember that it will turn the other way eventually. If you just stick to your guns, you’ll eventually be paid off.

Playing Rummy Online

Real Money Online Rummy

Finding a Rummy game to play online can be difficult. Many online gambling sites provide Rummy, but the quality of the games and the sites’ safety are not up to standards. But you don’t have to worry, and we’ve taken the time to review thousands of online casinos that offer Rummy, and these sites listed below are the best sites to play online Rummy for real money.

Practice Playing Rummy for Free

If you feel like you’re ready to try out everything you’ve learned in this article but might not yet be ready for rummy online for real money, we’ve got a resource to help you out. Below, you can play rummy and try out your strategies. You can do it just as a fun distraction, or you can use it to bone up on your play for when there’s something at stake.

Rummy FAQ

How Many Cards Are Dealt in Rummy?

In most versions of basic rummy, there are 10 cards dealt for a two-player game. If there are three or four players, there will be seven for each. And games of five or six players will deal out six cards to each player.

For different versions of the game, there are different rules about how many cards you get at the start of play. And you can even adjust these amounts if you like to spice things up. As we’ve said time and again, the flexibility of rummy is one of the best aspects of it.

How Do You Keep Score in Rummy?

There are different ways to keep score depending on which game you’re playing. In basic rummy, you score points by winning the round and adding up the point totals of the cards remaining in the hands of other players. If you score a rummy, which means you put all your melds on the table at once, you get double that amount.

There are also ways to play where you get credit for the value of the cards you’ve melded. In any case, most games score the ace through nine at their so-called “pip” value (1 through 9). 10s and face cards are scored as 10 points.

Can You Play Rummy Online for Real Money?

The best way to play rummy online for real money is to find an online casino site that includes rummy as one of its offerings. You can then play for whatever stakes you wish against other rummy players on the same site. But we advise you to choose your website carefully.

Not all gambling sites can be trusted in the same way, especially considering you have to give personal and financial information to them. That’s why we recommend resources like our online gambling site reviews where we have already done the research for you. You can then choose your rummy site with some peace of mind.

What Are Cash Rummy Tournaments?

In a cash rummy tournament, you can often win a lot of money for a relatively small investment. In fact, you might be able to find real money gambling sites that allow you to play tournaments for free as a perk for frequent play elsewhere on the site. Even if you do have to pay, your ratio of potential payback is often much higher than normal.

In a cash rummy tournament, the amounts for first place, second place, and so on will be determined by the number of players who join. Your goal will be to try and win your way through the tournament to get to one of the money prizes. Some tournaments may also award prizes that can be used at the site, such as free play in the online casino.

How Do I Bet When Playing Rummy Online?

To win real money playing money online, you have to put money at stake. To do that, you have to form a gambling account at the website of your choice. And that means endowing that account with funding of some kind.

The most common way that people fund online gambling accounts is via credit cards. But you might also find sites that allow you to pay with e-wallets or even cryptocurrency. If you have a lot of flexibility in terms of depositing money at gambling websites, it can make it more efficient for you to gamble.

Final Words on Rummy

We hope that you now have a better handle on how to play rummy, whether you’re playing online for money or just for fun with friends at home. You can learn rummy in a snap, and with all the different variations of play, you’ll never grow tired of it. There are many reasons it’s one of the most popular of all card games.