Basic or straight rummie is the game most people are referring to when they say rummie. Basic rummie, or rummy, can accommodate up to six players. Normally, two to four participants play. The object is to the first player to reach a predetermined score.
Choose a player to deal the cards. This person shuffles the cards and offers the deck to the person on his left to “cut." Cut means to take a portion of the deck from the top and put this portion on the bottom of the deck. Then the dealer deals the cards face down and one at a time to the players, starting with the person on his left. Two players each get 10 cards, three or four players get seven cards and six players get six cards each. When the dealer has dealt the correct number of cards to each player, he places the remaining cards face down in the middle of the table. He then takes the top card from the deck, called the stack, and lays it face up next to the rest of the deck, called the discard pile.
The first player is the person sitting at the dealer’s left. He takes a card from the stack or he chooses the top card in the discard pile. If he can meld and wishes to do so, he does this now. Melding is laying down card combinations for points. For example, one can lay down a sequence such as ace, two, three of the same suit or one can lay down three of the same card, such as three sixes (all different suits). A meld must be at least three cards. The player can also add to another person’s meld. For example, if another player melded three fives and the current player has the last five, he may lay it down on his turn. When the player finishes melding or chooses not to meld, he discards one card from his hand to the discard pile. His turn is over; play progresses clockwise around the table.
When a player picks up a card and is able to put everything in his hand down on that turn he wins that round. The other players figure the scores of the cards remaining in their hands. Face cards count as 10 points and each number card counts at face value, for example, a nine counts for nine points. According to Pagat, the total of all of these points is added to the winner's cumulative total and the other players get zero for the round. If no one reaches the winning score, play continues with the player to the left of the dealer, dealing the next round. The first person to reach the winning score wins the entire game.
Some people play with an alternate method of scoring. Each player counts the amount of the meld he has on the table. The winner of the hand gets only his amount. The other players get the amount less the amount of the cards they have left in their hand. They can wind up with a negative number, called going in the hole. The rest of the rules work the same.
Liz Jones is a freelance writer with extensive experience in a variety of areas, including digital imaging and the food industry. Jones has been writing professionally for three years. She attended the Pennsylvania State University where she majored in Astro Physics.