Indian Rummy Variants
One Game, Many Faces: Exploring the Different Variations of Rummy
The origin of the card game Rummy is still a mystery, but it has a history that dates back several centuries. Experts disagree on the exact details of its evolution. There are different versions of how the game came into existence.
One popular theory is that Rummy evolved from a Chinese game called Mahjong. Mahjong is a tile-based game that bears some similarities to Rummy in terms of creating sets and sequences. Another theory suggests that Rummy has roots in Mexican card games, with early versions referred to as "Conquian." This game, played with Spanish cards, also involved forming sets and sequences, much like the modern day Rummy.
Today, Rummy is one of the few socially acceptable card games on the Indian subcontinent. It also has the distinction of being the most widely played game here. Although most of us think of the 13-card “Indian Rummy” game as ‘Rummy’, this is just one of a huge variety of different forms of the game. In North America, ‘Rummy’ typically refers to a different variation of the game called ‘Gin Rummy’
The word “Rummy” refers to a family of card games that share a common gameplay principle- that of matching cards of the same face value or arranging cards of the same suit into sequences. In every variation of rummy, the primary objective for a player is to ‘meld’ cards into these ‘sets’ or ‘sequences/runs’ and be the first to go out, thus signalling the end of the game, or accumulate more (or less) points than their opponents.
Below, we’ve listed the rummy variations into different family groups based on their similarities to each other.
Knock Rummy Family
In Knock Rummy, players typically reveal their entire hand at the end of the game. Depending on the Rummy rules, one player indicates a valid hand and signals the end of the game by either ‘knocking’ or making a specific type of card discard.
Indian Rummy/ 13-Card Rummy
The classic 13-Card Rummy is also known as Indian Rummy due to its popularity on the Indian subcontinent. It is played with two decks of cards with two jokers each. The game's objective is to arrange the 13 dealt cards into at least two sequences, one of which must be a pure sequence, without any jokers. The game ends when at least one player ‘Declares’ that he has successfully melded all the cards in his hand. Opponents have to minimise their points from unmelded cards. Unlike Gin Rummy, Indian Rummy accommodates multiple players, adding an exciting element of competition.
On the Taj rummy platform, Indian Rummy is played in different formats. You can read about each of these in detail in the links provided below:
Gin rummy is a two-player card game that revolves around forming sets and runs of cards in the same suit. Similar to Indian Rummy, the objective is to fully meld all cards into ‘sequences’ or ‘sets’. But here’s where the similarity ends. In the Gin Rummy variation, each player is dealt 10 cards. The Winner indicates the end of the game, by knocking or calling out ‘Gin’. The game is played over several rounds, and the player with the lowest ‘deadwood’ points after their opponent knocks is declared the winner. Gin rummy is known for its swift gameplay making it a popular choice for players looking for a more focused and competitive card game.
Rumino, also known as Rumoli, is a unique rummy variant that combines elements of rummy and poker. In Rumino, players receive chips representing their points, and the objective is to collect chips by forming valid sets and sequences from the dealt cards. Players can make use of community cards, further distinguishing it from traditional rummy games. The player with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner.
Tonk (aka Tunk)
Tonk is a fast-paced rummy game played with standard playing cards. The main goal is to be the first to get rid of all your cards by forming sets of equal rank or consecutive cards in the same suit. A distinctive aspect of Tonk is its use of "spreading" where players can add cards to existing sets or melds on the table. The game incorporates point values for unmelded cards in players' hands, and the winner is typically the one who goes out first with minimal points remaining. Tonk's unique gameplay and emphasis on hand management set it apart from other rummy variations.
Viennese Rummy, also known as Closers Rummy, is a variation of traditional rummy that involves closing one's hand by forming a sequence or set with the final card. Players receive 10 cards each, and the objective is to create a valid combination of cards while being strategic about which card to close with. The closed card is placed face down, and other players have a limited number of moves to improve their hands. Viennese Rummy is a quick and engaging rummy variant with a strong emphasis on closing tactics, making it a popular choice for players seeking a twist on the classic game.
This is the most basic form of Rummy. The game is played until the card stock is exhausted or some player achieves a specific number of points. In some of the variations, some melds are worth a specific amount of points, in other variations the first meld must be worth a certain value of points.
This is one of the most popular variations of Rummy globally. Many other variants like Canasta and Indian Rummy are thought to have evolved from 500 Rummy. The scoring is distinct from Indian Rummy is that a player earns the points of his melds rather than from ‘deadwood’ cards.
21-Cards Rummy or Indian Marriage
This is another widely played game on the Indian subcontinent. Diametrically opposite to Indian Rummy, the objective of Indian Marriage is to earn as many points as possible from melds created. Players have to form specific card sequences (or marriages). Although jokers are used, players are only allowed to see the joker once they have completed 3 pure sets or sequences.
Dummy Rummy is a simplified version of traditional Rummy where players create melds of cards, but with a unique rule – once a meld has been created, it is placed in front of the player. Any other player may add to this meld on their turn. Another unique rule of this variation is that a player is allowed to ‘cut-in’ on any other turn to pick a card from the discard pile if the player whose turn it is allows it. These distinctions add an interesting dynamic to the gameplay.
German Rummy, also known as Rommé, is a popular card game in Germany. It closely resembles classic Rummy. Players aim to form sets and sequences to score points and eventually win the game. For the most part, game follows like a classic game of Rummy. In German Rummy, melds are called ‘Figures’. The first meld has to have a minimum value of 40 points and can either be a set or sequence.
Machiavelli Rummy is considered one of the most strategic variations of Rummy (hence the name). a variation of traditional Rummy, known for its unique rules and scoring system. Players work to create specific combinations, including runs of cards in the same suit, and the game incorporates elements of strategy.
This is a variant of Rummy that was invented in Alaska. One of the most distinct features of Bing Rummy is that players may not create a meld on the same turn they drew a card.
This version, named after the Seven Continents, requires players to form seven distinct types of hands.
Marriage is a classic Rummy variation where players aim to form specific card combinations, such as sets and runs, as well as "marriages" (specific pairs of cards).
Panguingue, also known as Pan, is a card game that combines aspects of Rummy and Poker. Players aim to form sets and runs of cards, following specific combinations and betting strategies.
Scala 40 is a Rummy variant popular in Italy. It features elements such as drawing and discarding to form sets and runs, and it typically involves three to eight players. The game focuses on achieving a certain score to win.
Shanghai Rum is a version of Rummy with a specific rule regarding Jokers, known as "Shanghai Rummy Jokers." The game emphasises forming sets and sequences while considering the unique role of the Jokers.
Three Thirteen, also known as Teen Do Paanch, is a Rummy variation played with special rules and card combinations. Players work to create sequences and sets with specific requirements, and it's characterised by the number 313, which holds significance in the game.
Tong-its is a popular card game in the Philippines, and it bears some similarities to Rummy. Players aim to form specific combinations of cards, such as sequences or sets, to achieve victory.
Contract Rummy Family
Contract Rummy is a variation that has a twist on the traditional form of the game. In these variations, players have to fulfil a specific objective or ‘contract’ to win the game. This objective is either assigned to the player or self-declared at the start of the game. Depending on the format, players may know or may not be aware of the objectives of the others. As the game progresses, new contracts are revealed, making it an exciting and ever-changing game.
Some other variations within this family are:
Kalooki, also known as Kaluki or Kalookie, combines elements of Rummy and wild cards. Players use Jokers and additional wild cards to form sets and sequences, making it distinct from classic Rummy variants.
Carioca, a Brazilian Rummy game, introduces a distinct concept where players are required to form specific combinations called "books" in their hands. The requirement of creating these book combinations sets it apart from other Rummy variations.
Phase 10 is a card game that deviates significantly from classic Rummy. Players must complete specific "phases" in each hand, with each phase having a different requirement. The game's structured phases differentiate it from traditional Rummy games.
Liverpool Rummy is a multi-deck Rummy variant where players aim to collect specific combinations of cards and create "books." Unlike classic Rummy, the book-building aspect is a unique feature of Liverpool Rummy.
Zioncheck Rummy is a fast-paced variant characterised by continuous drawing and discarding. Players aim to score minimum points while following unique rules for sets and sequences, differentiating it from other Rummy games.
There are two variations of Rummy in this family. Both are characterised by rules that require players to discard melds as play progresses.
One of the most primitive forms of Rummy, it is considered as the origin of all modern versions of the game. It originated in Mexico around the mid-1800s. Conquian is played with a 40-card Spanish pack or a French pack by removing the court cards. The aim is to be the first to get rid of all cards in your hand.
This variant has no scoring or points. The sole object is to discard all of your cards by creating melds and displaying them on the table. It is played with a regular 52 card pack. While creating melds, players may ‘rob’ cards from already-made melds to make new ones- giving this game its name.
The Canasta Family of rummy games involves playing the game in partnership with another player (or players). Melds in this family typically consist of 7 or 8 cards and are what give this family its name ‘Canasta’. There are a number of different variations within this family, played across the globe. Each region typically has its own classic version of the game. The Canasta family is most popular in North and South America.
These are some of the more popular variations of rummy in this family:
- US American Canasta
- Hand and Foot Canasta
- British Canasta
- Boat Canasta
- Ponytail Canasta