Home » How to Play Shanghai Rummy(Rules & Tips)

How to Play Shanghai Rummy(Rules & Tips)

by Team Taj Rummy
How to Play Shanghai Rummy

If you’re looking for a new and challenging game for your next game night, Shanghai Rummy is certainly worth a try! This popular card game has been enjoyed for generations and promises hours of entertainment. The rules are easy to learn and understand, making it ideal for all ages. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how to play Shanghai Rummy, including the rules, scoring, and strategies for winning. So get your cards out and prepare for some thrilling gameplay.

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 that can be played by 3 to 8 players.

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.

Also Read: Flash Card Game Rules

How to Play Shanghai Rummy?


Number of Decks: Shanghai Rummy typically requires multiple decks of standard playing cards, depending on the number of players and house rules. For a standard game with 2 to 4 players, one or two decks are usually sufficient. However, if more players are involved, additional decks may be needed to accommodate everyone.

Number of Rounds: Before beginning the game, players should agree on whether they will play the standard 10 rounds or a different number.

Dealing Cards

Dealing Cards: The number of cards dealt to each player depends on the specific round being played. In most variations of Shanghai Rummy, players are dealt 13 cards at the beginning of each round. However, some variations may involve dealing 12 cards instead.

Set Aside Remaining Cards: After dealing to each player, any remaining cards are placed face down in the center of the table to form the draw pile.

Turn Over the Top Card: Take the top card from the draw pile and place it face up next to the draw pile to start the discard pile.

Prepare Jokers: If using jokers, determine their role in the game before starting. In some variations, jokers are wild cards that can be used to represent any other card in the deck, while in others, they have specific functions, such as penalties or bonuses.


Drawing Cards: Players take turns drawing cards from the draw pile or the discard pile. They must form sets or runs according to the current contract and discard unwanted cards to the discard pile.

Completing Contracts: The goal is to be the first player to complete the required contract for the current round and go out or to have the fewest points in hand when another player goes out.


Point Values: Each card in hand at the end of a round has a point value, which contributes to the player’s score. Face cards typically carry 10 points each, while numbered cards are worth their face value. Jokers may have specific point values depending on house rules.

Bonus Points: Some variations of Shanghai Rummy award bonus points for achieving certain milestones, such as going out first in a round or completing specific contracts.

Winning the Game

Accumulating Points: After completing all rounds, players tally their scores based on the points accumulated during each round.

Declaring the Winner: The player with the lowest total score at the end of the game is declared the winner of Shanghai Rummy. If playing multiple games, players can continue playing additional rounds to determine an overall winner.

Shanghai Rummy Rules

You can play Shanghai Rummy with a few variations of the rules, such as Jokers in California Rummy. Let’s dive into the rules of Shanghai Rummy in a bit more detail.

Jokers in Shanghai Rummy

Shanghai Rummy 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 stockpile 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 the opponent’s hands.


When it’s your turn to meld sets and sequences of cards, 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 consist 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, whoever has the lowest-ranking card gets 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. When making a set, you must ensure 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 in their composition. For example, if you’re playing Rummy-style melding, you’ll need to include an Ace in your melds 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 Ace Values may be low or high depending on the game you’re playing. In some games, Ace Values can serve either role; they can be used to start or end a run. In others, however, there are rules about how Ace Values 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 consists of three or four same-ranked cards from different suits, such as 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 lay down their runs and set them on the table for everyone to see.

The game ends when a single player successfully goes out (plays all his/her remaining cards) 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, when 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 one’s 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 winning this exciting rummy game full of twists and turns!


At the end of each round, you can count your points and see who’s in the lead! Each card has a different value—Ace cards 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 player’s 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!


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.

When discarding a card during play, consider how others might 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. 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.

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 is 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, but more or fewer players can join a game as long as the minimum and maximum requirements 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, which has slightly different rules from other versions.


Playing Shanghai Rummy can be a wonderful way to bond with your loved ones and have some fun. With just a few simple rules and strategies to keep in mind, you can quickly become skilled at the game. Why not give it a try and make some unforgettable memories with your friends and family? Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep playing and enjoy the experience!

You may also like