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How to Play Shanghai Rummy: Rules and Game Instructions

by Team Taj Rummy
How to Play Shanghai Rummy

Are you looking for a fun and challenging game to play with your friends or family? Look no further than Shanghai Rummy. This popular card game has been played for generations, and is sure to provide hours of entertainment. The rules are easy to learn and understand, making it an ideal game for all ages.

In this article, you will learn the basics of how to play Shanghai Rummy, including the rules, hands, scoring and strategies used to win. So grab your cards and get ready for some exciting gameplay!

Table Of Contents

What is Shanghai Rummy

Shanghai Rummy is an exciting card game that tests your memory and strategy skills! It’s a draw-and-discard rummy game, usually played with two to four people who each get 13 cards.

The goal of the game is to be the first player to collect either four sets or three runs. A set consists of three or four identical numbers in different suits, while a run contains at least three consecutive numbers in the same suit. Players must form as many subsets from their 13 cards as possible before discarding one card on their turn.

The rules for Shanghai Rummy are relatively simple: players take turns drawing and discarding cards until someone can call out shanghai when they have collected either 4 sets or 3 runs (a shanghai hand). Once this happens, all other players must lay down their hands openly so that everyone can see who has won. If no one calls out shanghai by the time all the cards have been drawn, then whoever has the lowest value subset wins.

How to Play Shanghai Rummy?

Playing Shanghai Rummy is easy and fun!

To get started, you need to set up the game by dealing out 12 cards to each player. The goal of the game is to be the first person to meld all your cards in valid sets or sequences.

During your turn, you can either draw a card from the stock pile or take one from the discard pile before deciding whether or not to lay off any extra cards on existing melds.

Have fun playing this classic rummy game!

Setting Up

To get started, you’ll need a deck of cards, four players, paper and pencils for scoring.

Shuffle the deck well and deal each player 13 cards face down.

The dealer should then place the remaining cards in the center of the table, forming the draw pile.

The goal of the game is to be the first to collect three sets – either two or more of a kind (such as three sevens) or a run of three or more consecutive cards (like 4-5-6).

The player who goes out by using all their cards wins the round.

To begin play, the person left of the dealer starts by drawing one card from the draw pile and discarding one card from their hand, face up on the discard pile.

Play continues around the table clockwise with each participant taking a turn.

On each turn, a player can either pick up the top card from the discard pile or from the draw pile.

He/she must then discard one card from his/her hand.

This pattern continues until someone has collected three sets and declared himself/herself the winner! Shanghai Rummy is a great way for friends and family to have some competitive fun.

With its simple rules and fast pace, it’s perfect for a game night. So gather your supplies, shuffle those cards and get ready to rummy away!

The Goal

The goal is for players to build their own sets while also trying to prevent opponents from completing theirs.

The game starts with each player being dealt 10 cards and 4 additional cards placed face down on the table. Players take turns drawing one card from the stock pile or discarding one card onto the discard pile.

After drawing or discarding a card, players must meld at least one of their sets before passing play to the next person. If any player has 3 complete sets they can “go out” and declare victory.

Throughout the game, jokers are wild and can be used to replace any missing card needed to complete a set. In addition, players are allowed to pick up an opponent’s discarded cards if it will help them complete their own sets. However, any cards taken this way must be immediately melded by the player.


It’s your turn.

Start by drawing a card from the stock pile or discarding one onto the discard pile.Then, meld at least one set of three or more cards with either identical ranks or matching suits.

You can also add to existing sets on the table as long as you can form valid combinations. Once done, pass play to the next person in line. Note that you must make at least one successful meld for each round.

If you are unable to do so, you must draw additional cards until you can. Have fun playing!


In the card game of melding, players aim to match up sets of three or more cards with identical ranks or matching suits. This is done by forming combinations called melds which can be either a run (three or more consecutive cards in the same suit) or a set (three or more of the same rank).

To start creating melds, players must first sort their hand into potential runs and sets that they can build on. After sorting, if a player has enough cards for a valid meld, they may then lay it down onto the table and announce meld.

If two players have the same meld, they can join them together in order to create larger groups.

As play progresses, players should keep an eye out for opportunities to add additional cards to existing melds as this will score them extra points at the end of the round.

The ultimate goal of melding is to reach a predetermined number of points before any other player.

Laying Off

Once you’ve organized your hand and added melds to the table, it’s time to ‘lay off’ other cards onto existing melds.

This process involves playing additional cards from your hand to extend already-existing combinations of three or more cards on the board.

For example, if someone has laid down a run of five clubs, you can lay off any extra club cards that you have in your hand onto the existing meld.

When adding new cards to an existing meld, they must follow suit and the numerical order of the existing meld. If there are no available spots in the sequence for a card, then you cannot add it to the meld.

To successfully lay off cards, make sure that each one meets these criteria and is placed next to the corresponding meld. Once all of your cards have been added to the table, count up your points and compare them with the rest of the players!

Shanghai Rummy Rules

You can play Shanghai Rummy with a few variations of the rules, such as jokers in California Rummy. Before getting started, you’ll need to buy cards and meld them into sets or sequences.

Be aware that Aces are high and low in this game, so make sure to take advantage when laying down your hand!

Jokers in Shanghai Rummy

Shanghai Rummy is a popular card game that uses two decks of cards, including jokers. Jokers are considered wild and can be used to replace any card in the deck; however, only four jokers are allowed per hand.

Each player is dealt 13 cards with the aim of forming three melds as “either sets or runs. Sets consist of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank, while runs contain at least 3 consecutive cards of the same suit. Aces can be high or low but can’t be placed between King and 2.

Players must also form one discard pile containing one card. After the deal, players can take turns drawing from the face-down stock pile or top discarded card. They then have the choice to keep the drawn card or discard it on their turn.

To go out, players must form all their melds, use up all their cards and discard their last card. The first person to do so wins the round and scores points for the cards left in opponents hands.


It’s your turn to meld sets and sequences of cards.

To do this, you’ll need to assemble at least three or more cards with matching suits, numbers, or other characteristics into a single group called a meld.

Depending on the type of game being played, there are four main types of melds: sets, runs, extended sets, and extended runs.

Sets are groups of three or more cards that have the same rank but can be from different suits. For example, a set could include 4♠, 4♥, 4♦.

Runs consist of three or more consecutive cards in the same suit. An example of a run is 8♣, 9♣, 10♣.

Extended sets contain four or more cards of the same rank, while extended runs consists of four or more consecutive cards in the same suit.

When forming a meld, it must first be placed face-up on the table before any other player can add to it.

If two players try to use the same card to create a meld simultaneously, then whoever has the lowest ranking card will get to keep it.

After all the melds are formed, each player receives points based on the value of each meld they created.

The first player to reach the agreed-upon score limit wins the game.


Aces are powerful cards in the game of melding and can be used to form both sets and runs.

A set is a group of three or four cards that have the same rank, such as three Kings or four Sevens. A run is a sequence of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, beginning with an Ace and ending with a King, Queen or Jack.

When making a set, you must make sure that all the cards are of the same rank. If you’re using an Ace, for instance, it has to be matched with two other cards of the same rank, such as two more Aces.

Similarly, when constructing a run, all the cards included must be of the same suit. An Ace can start a run, but it will need to be followed by at least two more cards in order to complete it.

In addition, certain types of melds require an Ace as part of their composition. For example, if you’re playing Rummy-style melding, then you’ll need to include an Ace in your melds in order to score extra points. This is because an Ace counts as fifteen points, while all other ranks count as five.

Finally, keep in mind that Aces may be low or high depending on the game you’re playing. In some games, Aces can serve either role; they can be used to start or end a run. In others, however, there are rules about how Aces should be used. Be sure to check before playing so that you know what type of Ace play is allowed.

Laying Down

Once you have your melds ready, it’s time to lay them down on the table. Make sure to start with the highest scoring combination first.

Group together sets of three or more cards of the same number or suit and set them face up in front of you. Arrange them from left to right according to rank, so that the lowest card is at the beginning of each group.

After all of your melds are laid out, count up the points for each one. Once all of your melds are counted, add the total score to your running tally.

If any other players have not yet gone, they can now take their turn. They must check if they can use any of the cards already on the table to make their own melds. This is called taking a laying off play.


Feel the cards in your hand, the anticipation of what you can create with them thrilling through your body.

It’s time to meld those cards into sets and sequences!

In Shanghai Rummy, a player must form their hands into combinations of three or more cards that are either sets or sequences.

A set is made up of 3 or 4 same-ranked cards from different suits; for example three sevens or four Jacks.

A sequence consists of 3 or more consecutive rank cards of any one suit such as 7-8-9 hearts, Queen-King-Ace spades, etc.

Once all players have formed their hands at the end of each round they then lay down their runs and sets on the table for everyone to see.

The goal when playing Shanghai Rummy is to be the first person to get rid of all their cards by creating valid melds.

The game ends when a single player successfully goes out (plays all his/her remaining card) before anyone else has had an opportunity to play.

Players may only go out if they have created valid melds with all but two of their cards; these last two must total 6 points or less together otherwise they cannot legally discard them and end the round.

Points are counted based on card values: Ace=1 point, Face Cards = 10 points, Number Cards = face value (2=2 points).

In between rounds where players build their hands with new dealt cards it’s important to remember that other players’ discards can also be picked up and added to ones own hand – which can help complete a run or set already started so keep an eye out for opportunities there too!

Playing smartly and strategically will give players a great chance at success in winning this exciting rummy game full of twists and turns!


At the end of each round, you can count up your points and tally up who’s in the lead! Each card has a different value – Aces are worth one point, face cards are worth ten, and numbered cards are their face value.

The goal is to be the first player to go out with all your cards by forming valid melds, so strategize wisely!

A successful Shanghai Rummy hand requires at least two sequences or sets. When a player goes out after obtaining the required number of melds, they receive zero points for any remaining unmatched cards in their hand. However, if an opponent is still holding onto cards when another player goes out, that person receives negative points equal to the total sum of those unmatched cards.

The winner of each game will be determined by totaling up individual scores from each round played within that particular game. If multiple rounds were played during a single game then only the highest score obtained per round counts towards that players winning total score while all other lower scores do not contribute toward it.

Whoever has accumulated the most points at the end of a given game wins!


To get ahead in Shanghai Rummy, you’ll need to use your best strategies and maximize points by forming the most valid melds.

When playing Shanghai Rummy, it’s important to plan out moves that will allow you to form more high-scoring melds with fewer cards.

To do this, look at what card combinations are already on the table and strategize which of your own cards could be used for additional melds.

It may also help when deciding how many cards you should draw from the deck – if there aren’t any good melding options available on the table but several in your hand, then drawing one or two less cards can ensure that you won’t lose too much potential value.

When discarding a card during play, think about how others might be able to utilize it.

Discarding low-value cards is usually preferable since they’re unlikely to form successful melds; instead try aiming for mid-range values like 7s and 8s as these have higher chances of forming valuable runs or sets while still being hard enough to discard without feeling like you’ve lost something significant.

Your opponents’ hands are likely unknown until they declare their sets/runs so planning ahead by making smart discards is essential here.

Finally, don’t forget that timing matters too!

If someone has declared all their sets/runs but hasn,t gone out yet, that means they haven’t picked up all their relevant cards from the discarded pile yet so take advantage of this fact by quickly picking up those remaining cards before they can!

This way you can prevent them from completing their collection and potentially steal away some extra points for yourself.

With careful observation and quick thinking, applying these strategic tips will give you an edge over your opponents in a game of Shanghai Rummy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between Shanghai Rummy and other rummy games?
Shanghai Rummy is a variant of the classic rummy card game. It uses two decks with jokers, and has some different rules compared to other rummy games like Gin Rummy or Canasta. The main difference between Shanghai Rummy and other popular varieties are that players need to build sets in order from lowest number to highest as opposed to any order. Each set must contain at least one card from each suit. And there can only be three wild cards per meld.

2. Where can I find people to play Shanghai Rummy with?
If you’re looking for people to play Shanghai Rummy with, there are a few options. You can join an online gaming platform like PlayShanghaiRummy.com or look for local meetups in your area. There may also be game nights at nearby bars and pubs that feature the game, so check your local listings as well.

3. Is there a limit to how many players can join a Shanghai Rummy game?
Shanghai Rummy can be played by two to six players. The ideal number of players is four, however more or less players can join a game as long as the minimum and maximum requirement are met. All players must use the same deck of 52 cards plus one joker for each player in order to start playing Shanghai Rummy.

4. Are there any online versions of Shanghai Rummy I can play?
Yes, there are online versions of Shanghai Rummy you can play. Popular websites such as Gamesville and Worldwinner offer competitive tournaments for players to win cash prizes. You can also find free-to-play apps on iOS and Android devices that let you practice your skills with virtual chips.

5. Are there any variations of the game I can try?
Yes, there are several variations of Shanghai Rummy that you can try. The most common variations include 3-player Shanghai, 2 vs. 2 Team Shanghai, and 4-player Partner Shanghai. There is also a variation for 6 players called Super Six Shanghai where the rules are slightly different from other versions.


Playing Shanghai Rummy is a great way to spend time with family and friends.The rules of the game are simple and easy to learn, so everyone can have fun playing together.

With its unique hands, scoring system, and strategies, it’s sure to be an enjoyable experience for all players. By following the basic Shanghai Rummy Rules, you’ll quickly become proficient in this exciting card game.

So why not gather some friends or family members today and get ready for an afternoon full of laughter and good memories?

Get familiar with the Play Shanghai Rummy Rules now, so that when you’re ready to play, you’ll already know how!

Good luck and enjoy your gaming session!

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