Rummy is an old card game that was at one point one of the most popular card games in the world. Poker came along and stole the spotlight but rummy does still have a dedicated following in some parts. If poker suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, rummy would probably be my next choice.
The two games share more than a few traits. For one, both games are easy to learn but require a lifetime to master. Long term success in both games is achieved through skillful play, deception and outmaneuvering one’s opponents. Also like poker, rummy is usually played as a real money betting game. The goal in rummy isn’t just to win; it is to win money.
Rummy should not be mistaken for a gambling game. It may have some elements of chance such as random cards drawn from the deck, but skill is the overriding factor in determining who wins and who loses. I’ve played at a few rummy sites in my time and can confirm that it’s actually quite a fun and strategic game. Even if you never end up playing online, you ought to at least try it once with a couple friends.
Real Money Rummy Online
It’s tough to find a decent place to play these days. I’ve done plenty of looking and was able to find a grand total of two real money rummy sites that I know well enough to feel confident in recommending.
There are other sites out there that host real money rummy games, but they are just a little too sketchy looking for my taste. That may or may not be a fair assessment, but sometimes that’s all you have to go on with these smaller, no-name sites.
As long as you live outside the USA, your best bet would be to stick with the following sites:
BetOnline.ag is one of those large, all-in-one gambling sites that do a little bit of everything. One part of the BetOnline website is dedicated entirely to games of skill. There, you can play games such as Yahtzee, Gin Rummy, Spades, Tonk and Dominoes against other people for real money. These games aren’t terribly busy but you should find some action if you check in during peak hours (evenings).
RummyRoyal.com is powered by the Winner.com network. This company has been around for a long time and has a whole variety of other real money games in addition to online Rummy.
Rules of the Game
There is no single set of “official” rules for rummy. Different people in different parts of the world all have their own little variations. There is Gin Rummy, Rummy 500, Kalooki, Canasta and a hundred other variations. I’m just going to go over the most basic variation, simply called basic rummy. Once you know how to play the most basic form of the game, you’ll find it easy to move on to other variations.
The object of the game is to be the first player to discard every card from your hand. You can do so by melding, laying off or discarding. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all below. Once a player has discarded every card in his hand, this ends the round and a new round may begin. A game of rummy is played for either a predetermined length of time or until a certain score (such as 100 points) is reached.
The Deck and the Deal
Rummy is played with a standard 52-card deck. If there are two players in the game, each player is dealt 10 cards. If there are 3-4 players in the game, each player is dealt 7 cards. If there are 5-6 players in the game, each player is dealt 6 cards.
The first dealer is chosen at random and then the opportunity to deal moves clockwise around the table at the beginning of each hand. Each player is dealt one card at a time until all the players have their cards.
After all the players have received their cards, the remainder of the deck is placed face down on the table. This pile is known as “the stock.” One card is taken from the stock and placed face up on the table to start the discard pile.
The player to the left of the dealer acts first. There are three parts to each player’s turn:
- Mandatory: The player must draw one card from either the stock or the discard pile. If the player chooses to draw from the stock, that card remains hidden from view from everyone else. This is advantageous to the player. The drawback is that the player does not know what card he is getting. Alternatively, the player may draw from the discard pile. The advantage here is that the player knows exactly which card he is getting… but so does everyone else.
- Optional: Now, the player may “meld” and “lay off.” Melding and laying off are explained in further detail below.
- Mandatory: Last, the player must discard one card to the discard pile face-up. Note: if you drew from the face-up discard pile at the beginning of your turn, you may not discard that same card during the same turn.
- Play continues clockwise around the table with the players taking turns playing their hands. This continues until one player has discarded all of his or her cards. This is called “going out.”
As soon as the first player goes out, the remaining players reveal their hands. The total value of remaining cards in each player’s hand is added to the winner’s point total. Cards are valued as follows:
- Aces: 1 point
- Face Cards: 10 points
- Numbered Cards: Face Value (example: 7 of any suit is worth 7 points)
Melding and Laying Off
Melding and laying off are the two other methods besides discarding used to reduce the number of cards in your hand. A meld is formed by placing at least 3 cards in the middle of the table in one of two types of melds:
- A Run: A run is formed by placing three or more sequential cards of the same suit on the table. An example of a run would be the cards 3h-4h-5h. In some variations, the Ace only counts as a low card. Therefore, a run that consists of Ad-2-d-3d would be valid while a run that consists of Qd-Kd-Ad would not be valid.
- A Set: A set is formed by placing three or more cards of the same value on the table. An example of a set would be 7s-7h-7d. Another example would be the Qd-Qs-Qh-Qc.
Laying off is the act of adding one or more cards to melds that are already on the table. For example, if you have the 8h in your hand and there is a meld on the table that consists of 8s-8d-8c, you could add your 8h to that meld.
For another example, let’s say there’s a meld on the table that consists of the 5s-6s-7s and you have the 8s in your hand. You could add the 8s to that meld to create a meld that now consists of 5s-6s-7s-8s.
You can lay off as many cards as you wish in a turn. However, you may not rearrange existing melds. The cards that you lay off must add to existing melds only. You may not rearrange cards that are already on the table to form new melds for the sake of laying off. You may only add to existing melds.
Winning the Hand and the Game
The first player to get rid of all his cards by melding, laying off or discarding wins the hand. As soon as that happens, all play stops. The remaining players add up the value of their cards (see values above) and the total value of each player’s remaining cards is added to the winner’s point total.
After the points have been tallied up, the deck is shuffled and a new hand may begin. Some games are played for a predetermined length of time (such as one hour). At the end of that time, the player with the most points is declared the winner of the game. Other games are played until one of the players reaches 100 points. In that case, whoever is the first to reach 100 points wins the game.