Rummy Rules and How to Play Guide

Indian rummy or 13-card rummy, is a popular skill-based card game. It is greatly embedded in our culture, with many festivals often involving a friendly game of rummy with loved ones. Its online resurgence has taken its fan base to even greater heights across the country. This game typically involves 2 to 6 players, each dealt a hand of 13 cards. The first player to group the 13 cards and make a valid declaration is the winner. Rummy rules about making a valid declaration are outlined in detail in the following sections.

As per rummy rules, points are calculated only for the ungrouped cards at the end of a game. Since all the cards of the winner would be grouped, they would be said to have 0 points. Different cards have different points:

Deck of Cards:

Numbered cards: These have points equal to their face value.
Face cards: King, Queen, and Jack are all equal to 10 points each.
Ace cards: An ace is equal to 10 points.
Joker cards: Both printed and wild card Jokers are equal to 0 points.

Wild Card Joker:

In addition to the 2 printed Jokers in the deck, one card is selected randomly out of the closed deck and is designated as the wild card Joker. This card determines an additional set of jokers for that round–all cards of the same rank, regardless of the suit, can be used as wild card Jokers. If the selected card turns out to be a printed Joker, all ace cards become the wild card Jokers for that particular rummy game.

Objectives of the Indian Rummy Game

Learning how to play rummy is relatively easy and not very time-consuming. Once a player understands rummy rules and its key objectives, it is just a matter of practice. Winning in rummy requires a valid declaration, which includes at least two sequences (one of which must be pure), while the remaining cards can be grouped to form sets or additional sequences. There is no minimum number of sets required for a valid declaration; a player can win with just sequences and 0 sets but not with 0 sequences.

Forming Sequences

In rummy, a sequence (or a ‘run’) is a group of at least 3 consecutive cards of the same suit. A Joker card can also be used to complete a sequence, in which case it will become an impure sequence.

Pure Sequence

A pure sequence is made of at least 3 consecutive cards of the same suit WITHOUT a Joker card. The following are examples of valid sequences:

7♠ 8♠ 9♠
2♣ 3♣ 4♣ 5♣

In some instances, a wild card Joker card may be the same suit as a sequence, in which case it can be used. For example, if the wild card Joker is 6♦, then 6♠, 6♣ and 6♥ will all be considered Joker cards but can still be a part of a pure sequence:

6♠ 7♠ 8♠ 9♠
3♣ 4♣ 5♣ 6♣

Impure Sequence

An impure sequence is one that uses one or more Joker cards in it. The following are examples of impure sequences:

K♣ 🃏 J♣
3♦ 🃏 5♦ 6♦

Suppose you have a wild card Joker (2♠):

2♥ 3♥ 2♠ 5♥
5♦ 6♦ 2♠

Forming Sets

A set is a group of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank but different suits. You can form sets of numbered cards, face cards, or aces. The following are examples of valid sets:

7♠ 7♣ 7♦
K♠ K♦ K♣ K♥
A♠ A♣ A♦

Both printed and wild card Jokers can also be used to complete a set:

3♠ 🃏 3♥
4♣ Q♥ 4♦ (Q is the wild card Joker)

All cards in a set MUST be from different suits. 2 same-ranked cards from the same suit cannot be part of a set.

K♥ K♥ K♦
This is an invalid set since there are two kings of the same suit (hearts).

5♣ Q♥ 5♦ 5♥ 5♠
A set CANNOT have more than 4 cards because there are only 4 different suits. Using a Joker in this case would mean a suit is getting repeated.

How to Play Rummy

Indian rummy is played between 2 to 6 players. Generally speaking, two decks of standard 52 cards (plus printed Jokers) are used. First, one card is dealt to each player and the one with the highest-ranking card goes first, the one with the next highest-ranking card would go second, and so on. Once the cards are dealt to all players, an open card is placed on the table and a wild card Joker is selected. The open card forms the open deck, while the rest of the cards form the closed deck.

The game then starts with the first player drawing one card from either the open or the closed deck. After drawing a card and sorting their hand, the first player disposes of a card that is of no use to them. This card goes to the open deck (also called the discard pile). The game continues and the second player can either pick the first player’s discarded card or draw a new one from the closed deck, and so on until all the players have taken a turn.

The winner of a game is the player to make the first valid declaration. Once they group their 13 cards into at least two sequences (one mandatorily pure) and sets, they can discard their extra card into the “Show” area to declare. When a valid declaration is made, all other players are prompted to group their cards in the best possible way within 30 seconds. After this, the points are calculated for all the players, with the winner being awarded 0 points.

Pro Rummy Tips to Outsmart Your Opponents

While the basic rummy rules stay the same in any format of rummy, some rummy tips and tricks can help improve your game.

Form pure sequences first and quickly

A pure sequence is considered the first ‘lifeline’ for a rummy game. If you don’t have that, all your other sequences and sets will be considered invalid. It is extremely important that you focus on forming a pure sequence as early in the game as possible.

Discard high-value cards early if necessary

K, Q, J and Ace are the highest-ranking cards in a rummy game, and they each carry 10 points. A player should try to discard them early in the game if they are not likely to declare before their opponents to reduce their penalty points in case of a loss. Aim at leaving the least number of points possible at the end of the game.

Avoid picking cards from the discard pile if possible

The discard pile is visible to all players. Picking cards from there gives your opponents an idea of what sequences and sets you may be planning. They may use this information to withhold desirable cards to prevent you from making a valid declaration.

Use Joker cards wisely

Both the printed and wild card Jokers are very crucial to your game. They can substitute any card in a sequence or a set and are worth 0 points, so you should retain them till the end.

Terms Used in Indian Rummy

1. Table/Lobby- It is simply the place where the game happens. When playing rummy online such as on Playship Rummy, you will see an oval table usually with a green felt on your screen (in landscape mode). You will see your avatar seated at the bottom of the screen. Once the order of players is decided, you will see the other avatars being shuffled around and seated accordingly.

2. Printed Joker and Wild Card Joker- Each deck of cards usually has 2 printed Jokers. In the beginning of a game, a random card from the closed deck is selected as the wild card Joker. All cards of the same rank as this card can be used as Jokers. All Joker cards can substitute any card in a sequence or a set, and are thus very important.

3. Draw and Discard- The act of taking a card, either from the open deck or the closed deck is called ‘drawing’. Disposing of a card to the open deck is called ‘discarding’, and therefore the open deck is also called the discard pile.

4. Card Sorting- Card sorting or shuffling is a very important step to ensure the game is fair and players have no way of knowing what cards they might get. In online platforms such as Playship Rummy, RNG or Random Number Generator is used to distribute cards randomly in every game.

5. Drop- When players don’t feel confident with their hand, they have the option of dropping out of that particular game in exchange for a fixed number of penalty points. Pro players use this option strategically to reduce losses. There is no compulsion to play the game till the end.

There are 2 kinds of drops:
First drop: When you drop as soon as the deal begins without drawing a card.
Mid drop: When you’ve played at least one turn before, but have not picked up a card in this particular turn.

Penalty points for dropping may differ based on the format. For example in a Points rummy game, first drop gives you 20 points and mid drop gives you 40 points.

It is also considered a drop if you miss a certain number of consecutive turns. This limit can be adjusted via settings on your rummy app. The penalty for consecutive missed turns is the same as a mid drop.

6. Invalid Declaration- An invalid declaration is when you have:

  • No pure sequences
  • One or more ungrouped cards
  • Wrong sequences/sets when you decide to show

An invalid declaration is usually 80 points, but in some formats such as 61 Pool, it can be 60 points. This is the most points you can lose in any Indian rummy game, irrespective of your hand.

a. Declaration with Invalid Sequence

Example 1: No pure sequence
Let us suppose you have the following groupings and you choose to declare:

A♦ 3♦ 4♦ | Q♠ J♠ 🃏 | 3♥ 3♦ 3♠ | 4♣ 4♣ 6♣ 7♣

A♦ 3♦ 4♦ : Not a sequence
Q♠ J♠ 🃏: Impure sequence
3♥ 3♦ 3♠ : Set
4♣ 4♣ 6♣ 7♣ : Not a sequence + duplicate card

Since there are no pure sequences, the entire hand becomes invalid, even though you have an impure sequence and a set.

Example 2: Only 1 sequence
Let us consider another example. Say you have the following hand.

A♦ 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ | Q♠ Q♣ 🃏 | 3♥ 3♦ 3♠ | 5♣ Q♥ 5♦

A♦ 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ : Pure sequence
Q♠ Q♣ 🃏: Set
3♥ 3♦ 3♠ : Set
5♣ Q♥ 5♦ : Set
(Q♥ is the wild card Joker)

Even though this hand has a pure sequence, this would be considered an invalid declaration because it lacks a second sequence. The second sequence can be pure or impure, but it is compulsory for a valid declaration.

b. Declaration with Invalid Set

Example 1: Set with a repeated card
Let us suppose you have the following groupings and you choose to declare:

4♣ 5♣ 6♣ 7♣ | 6♠ 7♠ 🃏 | 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ | 3♥ 3♥ 3♠

4♣ 5♣ 6♣ 7♣ : Pure sequence
6♠ 7♠ 🃏: Impure sequence
2♦ 3♦ 4♦ : Pure sequence
3♥ 3♥ 3♠ : Duplicate 3 of hearts

As discussed previously, a set can only have the same-ranked cards of DIFFERENT suits, making this set and consequently the declaration invalid.

Example 2: Set with 5 cards
Consider this example:

4♣ 5♣ 6♣ | K♠ Q♠ 🃏 | 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ | 10♥ 10♦ 10♠ 10♣ Q♥

4♣ 5♣ 6♣ : Pure sequence
K♠ Q♠ 🃏: Impure sequence
2♦ 3♦ 4♦ : Pure sequence
10♥ 10♦ 10♠ 10♣ Q♥ : Extra card in a set

(Q♥ is the wild card Joker)

While sequences can be longer than 4 cards, sets can’t. There are only 4 different suits, so a set can only have up to 4 cards. This could have been easily avoided by putting the wild card Joker next to any of the other groups

Possible Combinations for a Valid Declaration

Here’s a handy chart outlining the groupings and their properties:

Grouping →Pure SequenceImpure SequenceSet
Parameter ↓
Is it mandatory?YesNoNo
Priority 1st
Without a pure sequence, the entire hand is invalid.
A valid declaration can be made without any impure sequences if there are at least 2 pure sequences.
A valid declaration can be made without any sets if there are valid sequences and at least 1 pure sequence.
Minimum RequirementAt least 1 Can make more.0, but can be made for the second sequence.0
Cards usedConsecutive cards of the same suitConsecutive cards of the same suit + Joker(s)Same-ranked card of different suits
Can it use Jokers? No
Special case: If a wild card Joker fits the sequence
No. of cards used3 or more3 or more3 or 4

Calculation of Points in Indian Rummy

Points are calculated for the ungrouped cards at the end of a game. Here are some scenarios in case of a standard Points rummy game with 6 players:

1Invalid declaration: No pure sequence80 (points can vary according to format)
2Invalid declaration: 1 pure sequence but no 2nd sequenceSum total of ungrouped cards
3First drop20 (points can vary according to format)
4Mid drop40 (points can vary according to format)
5Consecutive missed turns40 (points can vary according to format)
6Player leaves the table before picking a card on their first turn20 (it will be considered a first drop)
7Player leaves the table after picking a card40 (it will be considered a mid drop)

Now, let’s see how scores are calculated for individual players at the end of a game. We will assume it is a standard Points rummy game with 6 players. The Q♣ is the wild card Joker.

PlayerFinal HandPoints
AA♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ | 2♠ 3♠🃏 | 7♥ 7♦ 7♠ | 4♣ 8♣ 3♥ 15
Sum total of ungrouped cards: 4 + 8 + 3
B4♣ 5♣ 9♣ | K♠ 6♠ 4♠ | 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ | 10♥ 10♦ 10♠ 10♣ 78
Sum total of ungrouped cards: 4 + 5 + 9 + K (10) + 6 + 4 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10
Even though there is a pure sequence, the lack of a second sequence makes the set of 10s invalid.
C<Dropped on the first turn>20
D7♥ 4♥ 3♥ | 5♠ 🃏3♠ | A♣ J♣ 8♣ | 10♦ 3♦ A♦ Q♦ 73
There are no pure sequences, so all cards will be considered ungrouped.
EK♠ Q♠ J♠ 10♠ 9♠ 8♠ | 4♦ 4♠ 4♥ | A♦ 5♣ 6♣ 10♥ 43
Sum total of ungrouped cards: 4 + 4 + 4 + A (10) + 5 + 6 + 10
The long pure sequence will be considered just 1 pure sequence. The player could have saved 12 points by splitting this pure sequence into two groups.
FJ♦ 10♦ 9♦ | 7♥ 7♦ 7♠ 7♣ | A♠ Q♥ 3♠| 4♣ 5♣ 6♣ 0
Valid declaration- Winner

Winnings in Real Cash Rummy

Winning amounts are calculated differently for different formats of rummy, namely Points, Pool, and Deals. The winning amount would depend on the Buy-In of that particular game and the number of players. The prize pool will be affected if, for example, only 4 players join a 6-player table.

Calculation of Winning Amount in Points Rummy

In Points rummy, there’s only one deal in each game. Each point has a monetary value (called point value). On Playship Rummy, point values start from ₹0.05 and go all the way up to ₹500.

The winner’s prize is calculated as:

(Sum total of other players’ points) × (Point value) × (Winning Multiplier)

The Winning Multiplier is usually between 0.85 to 0.89 on Playship Rummy, and it depends on the number of players and point value.

Let us see how winnings are calculated with an example.

Consider a Points game with 1 point = ₹0.05 and the Winning Multiplier is 0.85.

Player A (Winner) = 0 points
Player B = 31 points
Player C = 19 points
Player D = 63 points
Player E = 80 points
Player F = 7 points
Total = 31 + 19 + 63 + 80 + 7 = 200 points

So, Player A would get: (200) × (0.05) × (0.85) = ₹8.5

Calculation of Winning Amount in Pool Rummy

Pool rummy is a long format of multiplayer rummy with no fixed number of deals. In Playship Rummy cash game, it comes in 3 variations: 61 Pool, 101 Pool, and 201 Pool. Players keep getting eliminated from the game when their score reaches 61 (in 61 Pool), 101 (in 101 Pool), or 201 (in 201 Pool). The Buy-Ins range from ₹5 to ₹40,000.

The prize pool is equal to (Buy-In) × (Winning Multiplier)
It does not depend on the points of other players.

The Winning Multiplier for Pool rummy is usually between 1.7 to 5.4 on Playship Rummy, and it depends on the number of players and the Buy-In.

So, the prize pool for a 6-player Pool game with a Buy-In of ₹10 and the Winning Multiplier of 5.1 would be:
₹10 × 5.1 = ₹51.
If let’s say 5 players participate instead of 6, the prize pool would change.

The winner gets to take the full prize, or, in a 6-player match, may get an option to split the reward with other players ONLY if 2 or 3 players remain on the table. If all of the remaining players accept the proposal to split, the prize is divided proportionately based on their individual points.

Calculation of Winning Amount in Deals Rummy

A Deals rummy lasts for a preset number of turns. All the players start with the same amount of points. At the end of each deal, the total of the losing players’ points is added to that of the winner. The player with the highest points at the end of all the deals is considered the winner.

Playship Rummy offers 2 formats of Deals rummy: 2 players-2 deals and 6 players-3 deals. The Buy-In for Deals rummy starts from ₹5, going all the way to ₹20,000.

The total prize pool = (Buy-In) × (Winning Multiplier)

The Winning Multiplier ranges from 1.7 to 5.28.

So, in a 6 players-3 deals game with a Buy-In of ₹5 and a Winning Multiplier of 5.1, the prize pool would be ₹5 × 5.1 = ₹25.50.

The winner takes all.