How to Play California Rummy

By Timothy Baron
California Rummy is played with 3 to 8 players.

Those who have played the card games Rummy and Gin Rummy will find California Rummy familiar. The objective of the game is to play all your cards before the other players. This is achieved by forming runs and sets. The game is divided into seven rounds, each with successively more difficult requirements to succeed. Points are assigned to players who did not discard their hand, and whoever has the fewest points at the end of the game wins.

Deal the cards. In the first round, each player receives seven cards. In each successive round, add an extra card. The remaining cards are stacked face down in the middle of the table. This stack is known as the "stock pile." The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Play proceeds clockwise.

Draw a single card at the beginning of your turn. You can draw either from the stock pile or the discard pile, if there are any cards in the discard pile. If you do not draw from the discard pile, then other players have the option to buy the top discard card. They must also draw the top card of the stock pile as a fee. Players may only buy a card once per round.

Play cards according to the contract of the round. A "set" is group of three cards with the same value, while a "run" is a group of four consecutive cards in the same suit. For instance, three fives would be a set, while 5, 6, 7 and 8 would be a run. The contracts for each round are as follows:

Round 1: two sets Round 2: one set and one run Round 3: two runs Round 4: three sets Round 5: two sets and one run Round 6: one set and two runs Round 7: three runs

Expand on sets and runs that have already been played. For instance, if someone has played three 7's and you have the fourth 7 in your hand, play it on his set.

Discard a single card when you can't play any more. Place it face up in the discard pile.

Win the round if you play all the cards in your hand. All other players must then take points based on the cards left in their hand. Aces and jokers are worth 15 points, 8's through kings are worth 10 points and all other cards are worth 5.

Shuffle the deck and begin the next round. If you've already played 7 rounds, then tally your points. Whoever has the lowest score wins.

Things Needed

  • Playing cards
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Tip

Jokers can be incorporated as wild cards. When a player has one in his hand, he can use it to substitute any other card.