How To Play Indian Rummy - Indian Rummy Rules


For decades since the long period of British rule, card games such as Poker, Bridge and Rummy have been immensely popular across India where they are played both socially and within the family. Indian Rummy is a fun rummy game with a big sense of tradition. It is particularly popular in card rooms and casinos across India where, in certain jurisdictions, classic Rummy is a wagering game played in many a Rummy club. Little is known about the origin and history of Indian Rummy.

It is possible that Indian Rummy is derived from the United States as it plays like a cross between Gin Rummy and Rummy 500. It is similar to Rummy 500 in that it is played with 13 cards, one or two decks, two or more players and usually jokers (wild cards). However in the overall simplicity of turn by turn play, it is a lot more like Gin Rummy, which is its closest relative. If you like Gin Rummy, you are very likely to enjoy Indian Rummy. These rules were written for an offline, real life card playing situation but they are equally applicable to online versions which can be played.

Players & Deck - Indian Rummy is usually played with 2 to 6 players. A single deck of 52 cards is used (54 if wild cards are included) and each player takes turns dealing the cards. If there are 4 or more players, two decks are used (104/108 cards) but 13 cards are still dealt to each.

Number of players Deck of Cards Number of cards dealt to each player
2 - 3 Players 1 deck 13 cards each
4 - 6 Players 2 deck 13 cards each
5+ Players 3 decks 13 cards each

The Deal - The dealer deals each player 13 cards face down. The next card from the deck is turned face up which indicates that it is the start of the discard pile. The rest of the deck is positioned face down and becomes the stock pile.

Object Of The Game

The purpose of the game is to complete a hand with most or all cards formed into Sets and/or Runs. A Run (sequence) is comprised of three or more cards bearing the same suit and in consecutive order such as for example:

Example of a Valid Run Example of an Invalid Run


A Set is formed of three or four cards that are identical rank and of different suits, such as for example:

Example of a Valid Set Example of an Invalid Set


A card can be used only once, either in a Set or in a Run. In other words, you cannot use the same card for both a Run and a Set. Note that in a Set, each card must be of the same rank and a different suit, however when two decks are used situations do arise where you have in your hand for example and - you cannot add to this to form a valid Set of three as the first two kings are of the same suit.

One crucial element of Indian Rummy is that your hand must contain at least two sequences (Runs) and if jokers are in play, at least one of those should be a "natural" or "pure" sequence (ie containing no joker wild card) before you can go out. The first pure sequence is sometimes referred to as "Life 1" and the second, which can be non pure, is sometimes referred to as "Life 2". A joker may be used anywhere, either in a Run or a Set, once you have formed Life 1. You must go out on your turn by discarding - it is irrelevant as to whether this may or may not be a card that could have been added to an existing meld.

How Indian Rummy Is Played Turn By Turn

There is no laying melds on the table during play as this only happens when someone goes out and there is no laying off cards onto other melds at any point in Indian Rummy. The two main elements observed during a single turn of Indian Rummy are simply the draw and the discard:

Drawing (Compulsory) - The first player must take just one card either from the discard pile or the stock and add this card to the 13 cards of his or her hand. The discard pile is face up and only the top card (known as the upcard) is visible. If that player chooses to take from the stock, his opponent will not see the card (since cards on the stock pile are face down).

Discarding (Compulsory) - After drawing, you must examine your cards and decide which one is the card you need least. It will be a card that is probably not in sequence with the rest or is the only one of its kind making it impossible to form either a Set or a Run. You then take this card and place it on the discard pile, face up.

How and When To Go Out

There is no knocking in Indian Rummy. If the player manages to meld all his cards and has a zero deadwood count, and his hand meets the requirement of containing at least two sequences (one of which is pure, with no wild cards), only then may he go out. He does this by placing his melds on the table and discarding the final card (traditionally face down) to signal victory. At this point, other players display their melds and deadwood is counted up and scored accordingly.

What If The Stock Pile Runs Out?

If there is just one card left on the stock pile and the player, whose turn it is, does not want the card on the discard pile, then the discard pile is taken, shuffled and turned over to start a new stock pile.

Some Notes On Scoring

If the player who goes out does not have at least one pure sequence, all the other cards are counted as unmatched and no other meld is valid.

Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) score 10 points. Aces score 10 points. Joker are worth 0 points. All the rest of the deck score the rank as the value (ie the pip value). For example, a would be worth six points, a is worth 7 points, etc.

Cards Value Example 1 Example 2
Jokers 0 points  is worth 0 points  is worth 0 points
Aces 10 points  is worth 10 points  is worth 10 points
Faces 10 points  is worth 10 points  is worth 10 points
Others Pip value  is worth 5 points  is worth 7 points

Aces are high and the cards rank in this order: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A. Note that because the Ace is always high in Indian Rummy,    is a valid sequence and also    but Aces do not go "round the corner" and therefore    is not a valid meld.

Scoring is much like in Gin Rummy except more simple as there is no knocking and there are no line or game bonuses etc. Each player or a designated party ie the dealer will have to tally up the value of each players unmatched cards (ie deadwood) and players are scored with negative points for deadwood. The winner earns the combined deadwood counts as a positive value. Players can play a single hand but can also keep dealing the cards for subsequent games until one reaches a previously agreed target score or until they play a fixed number of deals or until a set amount of time has elapsed.


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