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Rules for Shanghai Card Game

There is not an official set of rules to play the card game Rummy, but rather a set of guidelines accepted by Rummy card players.
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Shanghai is a card game similar to rummy, but should not be confused with the game Shanghai rummy. The game is typically played with three to five players but can be played with only two people as well.

The Deal

Shanghai is played with a standard deck of 52 cards minus the jokers. The dealer will deal the cards starting with the player to his left. However, cards are not dealt one at a time. Instead cards are dealt in groups of three a total of three times and then a single card is dealt to each player to finish the deal. Remaining cards are stacked face down in the center of the table.

Game Play

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, players will lay down either a run meld or a set meld to get rid of the cards in their hand. Once a person lays down his cards, the turn passes to the next player. If the player cannot make a meld, she must draw a card from the deck until she can lay down a meld.

Run Meld

A run meld is a sequence of cards, all of the same suit, that go in numerical order. This type of meld must consist of at least three cards, but can reach up to 13 cards. For example, if a player is holding an ace, king and queen of hearts, this would be considered a run meld and the player could lay down these cards during his turn.

Set Meld

A set meld consists of at least three cards all with the same face value. The meld must contain three cards but can contain four cards. For example, a player holding a three of clubs, three of hearts and three of diamonds would be holding a set meld and can lay down these cards during her turn.


A Shanghai is when a player uses the cards played on the table in addition to ones in his hand to create a meld. Cards can be arranged at any time as long as the remaining cards still create a meld. For example, a player is holding a six of spades and on the table are two spreads that consist of a three, four, five and six of hearts and a three, four, five and six of clubs. The player can remove the six of hearts and six of clubs from where they are played and add them to his six of spades to create a set meld.


Game play can continue as long as the players choose to play. The first person to get rid of all of the cards in the hand during a round has a score of zero. All of the other players are scored one point for each card they are still holding. At the end of the game the player with the lowest score wins.

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