How to Play Rummy Cube

By Shawn McClain

Rummikub, also known as Rummy Cube or Tile Rummy, is a tile-based game for two to four players. The 106 tiles are divided into sets numbered 1 through 13, with two sets in each of four different colors, plus two joker tiles that serve as wild cards. Rummikub is similar to card-based rummy games, in which players try to play melds of three or more tiles from their hand. Rummikub features just a few simple rules, yet the game is complex enough to keep people playing again and again.

Mix up all of the tiles and place them in a pile, face down, in the middle of the table. Have each person choose one tile, with the highest number going first. Return these tiles to the table and mix them back in with the rest.

Have each player choose 14 tiles at random. The tiles are placed on the rack in front of each player.

Have the first player take her turn. She can use the tiles on her rack to make either groups or runs. A group is a set of three or four tiles that all have the same value; however, each tile in the group must be a different color. A run is a sequential set of three or more tiles that are all the same color. These runs and groups are placed on the table face up. The total value of the first tiles played must equal 30 or more points. The player may play as many groups as necessary to reach 30 and open. Once she has done so, there is no restriction on playing tiles. If the player cannot make a play, she must take one tile from the middle of the table and add it to her rack.

Have the next player take his turn. The same initial playing restrictions apply. Once there are groups and runs on the table, any player who has opened can place tiles on those groups and runs, as well as making his own, additional groups and runs. A player can also manipulate tiles already on the table, splitting up groups and runs, as long as he is playing at least one tile from his hand. For example, if a player has a red 6 and there is a run of red 4-5-6-7-8 on the table, the player can take his tile and split the run into two smaller runs of 4-5-6 and 6-7-8.

Continue to play until someone uses all of the tiles in the rack. The player who empties the rack first calls "Rummikub" to halt play.

Add up the values of the tiles for each losing player. Each losing player loses points equal to this value. The winning player gains points equal to all of these values put together. Continue to play for a predetermined number of rounds. The player with the highest score at that point wins.

Tip

The joker tile can substitute for any other tile in the game. A joker is worth the value of whatever tile it is standing in for. You may swap an exposed joker for the tile it represents, but you must then use the joker in that same turn. When you calculate scores after someone has won the game, an unplayed joker is worth 30 points.

About the Author

Shawn McClain has spent over 15 years as a journalist covering technology, business, culture and the arts. He has published numerous articles in both national and local publications, and online at various websites. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in journalism at Clarion University.