Rummy Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(A player selecting a card from the stock pile in a game of Rummy)

(A player selecting a card from the stock pile in a game of Rummy)

Card Game Rules

Rummy or Rum is a traditional card matching game that requires 2-6 players and a standard 52 playing card deck with Kings high and Aces low. The objective of Rummy is to have the most points at the end of the game.

For more Rummy type games, check out our guides for Gin Rummy and Canasta.

If you are looking for cards to play Rummy with, check out a standard pack here or one of our more recent arrivals here.


Set Up

Before game play can begin, a dealer must be selected. Each player draws one card from a shuffled deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer.

The dealer shuffles the deck and passes out cards clockwise for each player. If two people play, then each player receives 10 cards. For three or four players, each receives 7 cards. For five or six players, each receives 6 cards. The remaining cards are placed faced down in the center of the group to form the stock. The top card of the stock is flipped face up and placed next to the stock to form the discard pile.


How to Play

Play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. Every turn begins with the player selecting one card from either the stock or the discard pile. If at any point in the game the stock pile runs out, the discard pile is shuffled to form a new stock pile. The last card in the new stock pile becomes the first card in the discard pile. The general goal of the game is to get rid of your cards as fast as possible. This can be done is three ways: Melding, Laying Off or Discarding



(Examples of possible melds in Rummy)

(Examples of possible melds in Rummy. This particular game included the Joker in the deck)

A player makes a meld by either having three or more of a kind or by having three or more of a run. A run is made of three or more cards of the same suit in increasing or decreasing order. When a player makes a meld they must lay it face up on the table. Melding is optional and you can only do it once a turn.


Laying Off

A player may also get rid of cards by building upon previously made melds. For instance, if a player has made a meld of 3 Kings and the player in play has the fourth King, they may place it on the 3 King meld to complete the set. Likewise, if a meld is made of the 2, 3, and 4 of clubs and the player in play has the Ace of clubs, they may place it before the 2 to build upon the run. Laying Off is optional and there is no limit to the number of Lay Offs you can make.



At the end of every turn, you must choose one card to add to the discard pile.



When one player gets rid of all of their cards, all players stop and tally up their points based on the remaining cards in their hand. Points are given by card value with Aces counting as 1 point and face cards counting as 10 points. The tallied points are given to the one who got rid of their cards first.



Some can declare Rummy if they get rid of all of their cards in only one move. This can be done by opting out of making moves and strategically waiting for the right runs and melds to appear on the table. For the person who can declare Rummy, points are doubled.

Game Play Example

Suppose the deck has been dealt, there’s a King of Hearts in the discard pile, and you have the King of Spades, the 5, 6, 7 of Diamonds, and the 2, 8, Jack of Hearts. The player to your right places a meld of three 2s on the table and discards. It is your turn. You begin by selecting a card from the stock pile and get a King of Diamonds. You place the run of Diamonds on the table and lay over the 2 of Hearts on the meld of 2’s. You then discard the Jack of Hearts. After your turn you have the King of Spades, the King of Diamonds and the 8 of Hearts. A round passes and a meld of 8's has been placed. At the start of your turn you select from the stock pile and receive a King of Hearts. You place the meld of Kings on the table and discard the 8 of Hearts, making you win the game.

For more resources Rummy check out Pagat's article on the game here and David Parlett's entry in Britannica here.



Rummy-styled games have a long history with their origins either tracing to the Chinese game of Khanhoo or the Mexican game of Conquian. Khanhoo, comparatively, is much more archaic. It was first recorded during the Ming Dynasty in 1613. While the basic premise of strategic card matching can be found in Khanhoo, traditional Rummy has evolved significantly since then. Conquian as an official game was first recorded in 1852, however, some believe it originated hundreds of years earlier. Other than having a 40-card deck (normally 8, 9, and, 10 are removed), much of Conquian is similar to the basic Rummy described above.



While there are many Rummy-like games, these variations are closer to the basic Rummy with only slight differences.

For a comprehensive list of games related to Rummy, Check out this Wikipedia page here

500 Rum

In this variation, a player wins when they reach 500 points. Instead of the player who lays off all of their cards first getting the tallied points of the losers' remaining hands, all players are eligible for winning points once a player lays off their cards.

When one player goes out, play ends and everyone tallies the difference between the point value of their melds and the point value of their remaining cards. 

Knock Rummy

In Knock Rummy, players cannot lay off on another hand nor can they place their melds on the table. Instead, players keep their hands hidden from other players until the very end when they can go out. 

Queen City Rum

In Queen City Rum, 7 cards are dealt to each player no matter how many players there are. Players must also wait until they can play their entire hand at once. No partial melds are allowed.

Contract Rummy

In Contract Rummy, players must make a specific meld before they can meld any cards they want. The specific meld, or contract, changes each round. 

Round 1: Two sets of 3 
Round 2: One set of 3 and One run of 4 
Round 3: Two runs of 4 
Round 4: Three sets of 3 
Round 5: Two sets of 3 and One run of 4 
Round 6: One set of 3 and Two runs of 4 
Round 7: Three runs of 4; there is no discard in this round
The objective of Contract Rummy is to have the least points. When a player goes out, the other players add up their points and give it to themselves.
For more information about Contract Rummy, check out pagat's article here.

Recommended products to play Rummy:

Rummy 2 Deck Set Bicycle Playing Cards

Rummy 2 Deck Set Bicycle Playing Cards


About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B.A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and is working towards a Masters degree in English at the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 07/01/20


  • These rummy rules are good to know!

    Vikesh Nair on

  • Its say “When a player makes a meld they must lay it face up on the table. Melding is optional and you can only do it once a turn” i dont inderstand do u have to play a book when u have it or can u choose to hold it untile u want

    George Guenther on

  • When playing rummy with the Jokers included, what is the point value of a Joker?

    Doug on

  • How do you use 2 decks? Can you have melds like this? . ♠️♥️♥️♣️

    Martha Spielman on

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