The Many Variations of Rummy

While the classic rummy game has been around for about two hundred years, there are a large number of variations that evolved from rummy and have become popular over the years.

Having said that, all rummy variants are essentially common in one sense – all these variations are about card melding in a sequence of consecutive cards of the same suit or a combination of the same rank across different suits. Another common thread is that all these variants are about picking and discarding cards. Let’s explore some of the most important and popular variants of rummy.

13 Card Rummy of Indian Rummy

Considered to be an extension of Gin Rummy of Rummy 500, the game is played between 2-6 players who are dealt 13 cards each. The players need to meld the cards into sequences or sets by picking or discarding cards. Do note that this version allows the use of joker cards, and the jokers can act as a substitute for any card in the deck.

Each card carries points as per the number on them, and each face card carries ten points. The objective of the game is to reach a score of zero by melding all cards in the hand. The player to declare this first is the winner.

Points Rummy is a variation of 13 card rummy and is considered ideal for beginners. It takes a few minutes to complete.

Deal Rummy is a variant that involves a fixed number of deals. The game starts with every player getting the same number of chips. At the end of each deal, the losers have to give away their chips to the winners. When all the deals are done, the player with the highest value of accumulated chips is the winner.

Pool Rummy is a variant in which all players pool their chips or money to play the game. The game carries on until one of the players reaches 101 (or 201) points, at which point he loses the game. 


A cross between Rummy and Mahjong, Rummikub is played with tiles instead of cards. The game uses two sets of 13 tiles (numbered 1 to 13) in 4 different colours, totalling 104 tiles. There are 2 additional tiles acting as jokers. The objective is similar to rummy – to lay the tiles they have been dealt in sets or sequences of 3. The first player to lay down all his tiles wins.

21 Card Rummy or Indian Marriage

This game is popular during Diwali and runs longer than classic rummy. A total of 3 decks of cards is used, jokers included. Each player gets dealt 21 cards and must make 3 pure runs and meld the remaining cards into proper sets or sequences.

This game also has additional value cards, which work exactly like the joker cards except that they carry more points.


This game is played between 4 players in pairs of 2 each using 2 decks of cards and 4 jokers. Each joker card and all the 2s work as wild cards. The objective of the game is to meld with 7 cards of the same rank.

Paplu or Marriage Rummy

Rummy lovers in India and neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhupal love this version of rummy. Played with 3 decks of cards and 2 to 5 players, the game does not have any printed jokers but instead uses wild card jokers. All players are dealt 21 cards and they are required to make combinations of 3 cards only.

The is unique in the sense that it has a number of terms that are actually quite fun sounding, such as Paplu, Nichlu and Tiplu. We will cover more details about this in another article soon.

Gin Rummy

This is the favourite of the Europeans and also the easiest version of rummy to play. Two players play the game with 10 cards dealt each. The objective is to meld the cards into sets of 3 cards each. The ace is worth just 1 point here, all the face cards are worth 10 points and all numbered cards are worth the number printed.

Rummy 500

This game is yet another favourite. 13 cards are dealt and the objective is to meld the cards into sets or sequences of three. The numbered cards are worth the face value, the face cards are worth ten points each whereas the jokers are worth 15 points. Any unmelded card leads to deduction of points. The first player to reach 500 points wins. Check out our separate article that talks about this version of rummy in detail.

Dummy Rummy

Originating in the US, this game is simple and exciting. Played between 2 to 4 players with 2 decks and 4 jokers (totalling 108 cards), all 2s are wild card jokers. Each player is dealt 13 cards and the first to lay down all cards on the table in proper melds is the winner.

Contract Rummy

Also known as Combination Rummy, Deuces Wild Rummy, Joker Rummy and Phase 10, this is a variation of Gin Rummy and involves 3 to 8 players. The game has 7 deals in all and rules change with every deal. 10 cards are dealt in the first four rounds whereas 12 cards are dealt in the last three rounds. The scoring is a little different here as the Joker carries 25 points, the Aces carry 15 points and the face cards carry 10 points each. All numbered cards carry points equal to printed value.

Shanghai Rummy or California Rummy

This game is quite similar to Contract Rummy and was popularised in China, hence the name. The difference between this version of rummy and Contract Rummy is the number of deals, 10 in this case. Ideal for 3 to 5 players, the game is played with 2 decks of cards and each player gets 11 cards each. 2s in black suits are treated as jokers. The first one to get rid of all cards by melding them, wins.

So, these were the many versions of rummy that have become famous throughout the world. Which ones do you love the most?