How to play Rummy

At the Rummy Palace, you get to play German Rummy anytime against fellow card game enthusiasts from all over the world! We offer basic Rummy rules perfectly adjusted for novices, as they are manageable and easily understood. Once you gained some experience, you can employ custom rules and tailor the game to your wishes.

Rummy in a Nutshell

Rummy is a card game for at least two players. At our Palace, you can play Rummy with two players up to four players. You aim to get rid of your hand cards before your opponents do. To do so, you can play your cards as melds and add your cards to existing melds. By the rules of rummy, these melds must meet certain conditions, though. The round ends once a player discards their last card onto the discard pile. Then, it is time to count the points. And here goes the next round!

This thorough manual will guide you through all the Rummy game rules and terms in detail. To quickly look up single terms, take a look at our glossary! And use our game help to answer any questions coming up on the fly at the Rummy Palace.

The Rummy Playing Cards

Rummy uses two decks of traditionally French-suited playing cards, including Jokers: 104 cards in the suits Spades, Clubs, Hearts, and Diamonds in 13 ranks – Two to Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace plus six Jokers.

Rummy Cards – Ranks and Values

Each card has a rank and a corresponding value in Rummy. That value factors into two game elements: First, playing the initial meld (at least three cards with a minimum score of 30 points in total), and secondly, determining the players’ scores at the end of a round.

Rummy: Point Values Pip Cards and Face Cards
The values of the ranks from Two to King are easily memorized.
Rummy: Point Values Ace and Joker
But Aces and Jokers have varying values per game situation.

You should not risk having too many cards of higher value in your hand at the end of a round.

The Joker

Following the basic Rummy rules, you can always use the Joker to replace a card missing from a meld. Two consecutive Jokers in a meld are allowed, too, as long as there are no more Jokers than natural cards.

When any player – you or a fellow player – later receive the fitting card, they can swap their card with the Joker. Now they get to use the Joker for their melds.

The Rummy Playing Field

Now that we know our material, let us take a look at the rules of Rummy and learn how to play Rummy! The playing field consists of two areas – the stock with the discard pile and the big melding area. Below the playing field, you see your hand cards and, during your turn, how much time you have left for your moves. If it is an opponent’s turn, the time they have left will be indicated close to their avatar. Finally, you always see how many cards your opponents are holding on the edges of the playing field.

Rummy Playing Field - Four Players
This is the playing field setup in four-player online Rummy.

Melding Area

All players can put their melds in this area. As soon as a meld is played here, any player past their initial meld can add cards to it or swap Jokers.

Stock and Discard Pile

At the beginning of a round, each player receives 13 hand cards. The leftover cards become the face-down stock for drawing from. Its top card is revealed and placed next to it as the first card of the discard pile.

Course of the Game

According to the Rummy rules, you play in clockwise order with a randomly picked start player. To begin your turn, you draw a card either from the stock or the discard pile, your choice. And you have to end each turn by putting a card on the discard pile. After that, the player on your left begins their turn, and so on until one of you wins the round or the stock is exhausted.

Between drawing and discarding, you can make multiple different moves. The only requirement: In every round, you have to play your first meld with at least three cards and at least 30 points before making any other moves. The ranks of the cards used do not matter here.

As soon as one player discards their last card on the discard pile, the round ends, and scoring ensues. If the stock is exhausted, the round ends without a winner and all players lose points. Depending on your settings, the next round follows. That goes on until the chosen number of rounds is completed.

Moves During Your Turn

Every turn begins with drawing a card from the stock or the discard pile. You can then play as many of the subsequently explained moves, as your hand cards allow. You can only make moves during your own turn!

Playing Melds

In Rummy, you play combinations of cards, which are called melds. Playing them is also called melding. A meld must consist of at least three cards. Before making any other move in a round, you must play an initial meld. But first, we look at the two types of melds in Rummy – groups and runs.

Icon Rummy Group

Groups or sets consist of at least three cards of the same rank. But each suit – Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds – can only appear once per group. That limits them to four cards at most.

Icon Rummy Run

Runs or sequences consist of three to 13 subsequent cards of the same suit. Each rank can only appear once per sequence. The following order applies: (Ace), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, (Ace). The Ace can either open or conclude a run, but it cannot sit between two cards!

The Initial Meld

The first meld you will play in any round must score at least 30 points in total. You can achieve this score by playing several melds in the same turn. Apart from that, the usual rules for melds apply (see above). Mind the varying Ace score in runs here – one point before the Two, 11 points after the King.

After playing the first meld, you are free to play any number of moves during your turns in this round.

Adding Cards

In case you have hand cards that would complete melds in the playing field, you can append them at any time in your turn. And it does not matter who played the meld originally. Rules for melds still apply: A group can have only one card of each suit, and runs consist of 13 cards at most, with the Ace either at the end or the beginning.

Swapping Jokers

Some melds in the playing field might contain Jokers. If the fitting card is in your hand, you can insert your handcard in your turn and add the Joker to your hand. You are free to use it in the same turn, later, or discard it as your last card. 

End of the Game

When you are the first one to place your Rummy cards in melds and discard the last one on the discard pile, you exclaim: “Rummy!” The round has ended, and you won! Now, the other players receive minus points for their respective remaining hand cards. In turn, you gain the sum of all minus points as positive points.

If the stock is used up before a player could empty their hand, the round ends without a winner and all players lose points.

At a table at the Rummy Palace, you can play several rounds and consecutively collect points. A table ends either after a predefined number of rounds was played. Finally, the player with the highest total score wins!

A Particular Case: Going Rummy

Sometimes you are lucky and receive perfectly matching cards. Seize the chance while no other player has any melds: When you end the round by playing all your cards within one turn, you are going Rummy. That doubles the opponents’ penalty points as well as your gained points!

Scoring Points in Rummy

Now you know how to play Rummy. But how do you score? At the end of a round, each player loses points equal to the summed-up values of their remaining hand cards. And the winner gains the sum of all their fellow players’ scores.

Remaining hand cards score as follows:

RankValue in Points
Two to NineAccording to rank (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Ten, Jack, Queen, King10

In the case of going Rummy, all positive and negative scores count double! And when you are playing several rounds, the player with the highest total score after the last round wins the table.

Custom Rummy Rules: Mix it Up!

At the standard tables in the lobby, the rules of Rummy described above apply. Mix and match custom rules to create the version you and your friends like best. You can choose from the following options:

Rummy Menu: Custom Rules
Custom rules at the Rummy Palace
Custom RuleDescription
Short DeckOnly one deck of French-suited playing cards is used, i.e., 55 cards – three of them Jokers. Additionally, in a two-player game, players receive ten hand cards each, or seven each with more players. And the custom rule Without First Meld is automatically enabled.
40 Points for First MeldThe score requirement for your initial meld of each round is raised from 30 to 40 points.
Without First MeldThere is no score requirement for the first meld of each round at this table.
Cyclic SequencesWith this custom rule, the Ace can also sit between other cards in sequences instead of at the beginning or end only. Sequences must still consist of 13 cards at most.
No JokersAll Jokers are removed from the deck. As a result, 104 instead of 110 rummy cards are in the game.
Strict JokersUsing this custom rule, you can neither discard Jokers, nor have two consecutive Jokers in a meld. Before swapping a Joker in a group with your hand card, the group must be complete, i.e., contain four cards. Swapped Jokers must be played within the same turn.
Strict GroupsThis rule specifies the order of suits in groups: Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds must always be followed without interruption. That requires special attention with Jokers:
Clubs – Joker – Hearts would work since only Spades is missing, which is replaced by the Joker.
Joker – Clubs – Spades would not work since Clubs is the first suit of the order. Hence, the Joker cannot replace any card before it.
KnockingNow, you can gain the last discarded card even outside of your turn by knocking. If you knock and receive a card, you must draw an additional card from the stock. Whoever knocks or draws first, gets the card. The next player in regular order does not have to knock but can draw from the stock or discard pile. You cannot knock for a card you just discarded. Hence, this rule only works with three and more players.
Win Without DiscardingYou do not have to discard the last hand card anymore to finish the round. Instead, you can meld it or add it to a meld in the playing field.
Casino ScoresThe scoring at the end of a round is modified. We explain the differences to our standard scoring in the chart below.
TrainingWith this custom rule, the results of the table do not count for the league. You are still gaining experience points, though.

Casino Scores

We summarized the differences between the scoring our Rummy with standard rules and with the custom rule Casino Scores in the following table:

Basic GameCasino Scores
Scoring process 1) Each player receives the values of their remaining hand cards as minus points.

2) The winner receives the sum of all their fellow players’ hand card values as positive points.
1) Each player receives the values of their remaining hand cards as minus points.

2) The winner receives the sum of all their fellow players’ hand card values as positive points.

3) Additionally, the winner receives points for all the cards they placed on the playing field.

4) That score is evenly split among the other players as further minus points.
Points for Queen of SpadesDoes not score specifically, so 10.40
Points for Ace1115
Points for Ten, Jack, Queen, King1010
Points for Two to NineAccording to rank (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).5
Points for Joker200

In case of going Rummy, all positive and negative scores are doubled with Casino Scores as well!

Knowing how to play Rummy, you might want to delve deeper into the Rummy game. To do so, you can find more explanations and tips on Rummy strategy beyond this Rummy manual in our Rummy Lessons.

Play as Much as You Like!

At the Palace of Cards, you can find many popular card games online alongside Rummy. Shed your hand cards Canasta or Mau Mau. Or try one of our trick-taking games – Pinochle, Sheepshead, Skat, and Doppelkopf. Or are you feeling more like solitaire games? We can offer you Klondike and Spider.