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Rummy Card Games in India: What is it? Is it Legal?

rummy card games india
Rummy Card Games in India

India has a long tradition of playing cards. Despite the social distancing, people from India continue to play card games online. Indian Rummy is one of the oldest card games in the country. 

It is one of the favorite card games because it tests the analytical and mathematical skills of the players with its 52-card deck and printed jokers.  

A Little Explanation About Rummy:

Rummy is one of the most popular card games in the world. Its rich history evolves from Conquian, a Mexican game, and an 18th century Chinese game with the same premise. It is a matching-card game where the goal is to build melds that is consist of sets. 

The game is simple. Once the players are dealt with 13 cards each, the rest will face down to form a closed deck. Then the last card from the closed deck is placed faced up to create an open deck.

Each player can take a card from either the open or closed deck, with an option to discard the pick to the open deck. 

How to Play the Indian Rummy?

The rules are easy to learn, but mastering the game is another story. 

Like the rest of rummy games, Indian Rummy follows the system of shuffle and deal, plus the open card and joker. Drawing and discarding have the same rules. 

What makes Indian Rummy different are the following features:

  • Indian Rummy allows you to fold in two stages: initial and middle, which would cost you ten points.
  • The goal is to score zero! 
  • Indian rummy table only allows two to six players. 
  • There are two types of jokers in Indian Rummy: printed and random cards from the deck.

Runs and Sets in Indian Rummy

The main goal in Indian Rummy is to form 13 cards into sequences, also known as runs.  

It must consist of three or more consecutive cards in the same suit: A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A. The ace can be next to the two or the king, but never both at once, which means K-A-2 is an incorrect run. 

Meanwhile, a set, which also refers to the trails or trios, includes three cards of the same rank in different suits. Five aces – five hearts – five diamonds are considered valid, but not seven club – seven club – seven hearts. 

Be careful not to overlap these combinations. Seven diamonds – eight diamonds – nine diamonds – nine hearts – nine spades is considered a run of diamonds with two spare nine or a set of nine with two extra diamonds. All six cards have already formed a run and a set if we add a second nine diamonds or nine spades or six diamonds. 

What can be used as a substitute is a wild card. If eight clubs turned up, then three hearts, eight spades, and five hearts is a valid run. All eights are wild, so J spade – J diamond – eight diamond is also valid. 

You can also form a straight run without the use of wild cards. A valid combination must at least include a straight run. Seven hearts – eight hearts – nine hearts is called a straight run. 

Declaring an Indian Rummy Win

To declare a rummy win, it is essential to hold at least two runs, with one of them must be straight. Keep in mind that the remainder must form a combination that will be runs or sets. 

A winning hand has four combinations: 

  • One of four cards
  • Three of three cards

It is also possible to find only three combinations: five, four, and four. Or five, five, and three cards. 

A winning hand must have at least two sequences, one of which must be “pure,” i.e., made without any jokers.

Indian Rummy Scoring

Once the winner is declared, the rest of the players who haven’t packed must count their cards for the pay-off. Here are the card values:

  • A, K, Q, J, 10: 10 points each
  • 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2: face value
  • All jokers: zero

Jokers in Indian Rummy

Jokers can make or break an Indian rummy game. This will be your wild card and substitutes for regular suit cards. 

It can be used to create a set or a sequence. If you one card short, you can always use a joker as a replacement. Additionally, to the standard jokers in the deck, a player can select a card out of the stock (wild card joker). 

With a total of five joker cards, only four can be used by players. One Joker would lie up under the closed deck, which all the players can see. It would determine an additional set of jokers as follows:  

  • The same rank 
  • “Paplu,” or the next higher card of the same suit, which also functions as a joker, with the holder is awarded an additional bonus from each player after the round. This is 10 points from each player (25 points if two paplus are held).
  • If the selected card turns out to be a printed joker, all aces become the joker for that particular rummy game.

Jokers can change the game entirely, so it is essential to focus on making the best use of jokers. It is always valuable for completing a run or setting higher points. Try to avoid not to use them in a natural run. 

Tips and Tricks in Winning Indian Rummy?

Want to get ahead of a 13-card Rummy? Here are some helpful tips for you: 

  • Be observant of what the other players are doing. Checking what they discard or pick from the card pile will give you an idea of how they are doing in their game. This way, you’ll know which are the right card to keep or discard. 
  • It will be best to discard cards that you don’t plan on using – especially if their value is high. 
  • Never wait for a specific card to meld a run. Continue reevaluating your card and make changes if necessary. 
  • Taking cards from the pile leaves a clue for your opponent. You may confuse them by throwing a card (shall you have a duplicate of it) that is part of the sequence. 

The good news for players is, Rummy has been categorized and declared in 1996 by the courts of law to be a game of skill. It means players can legally play anywhere from their homes or in public. 

In India, what is considered to be a game of skill is similar to business activity. That means Rummy is excluded from the applicability of laws prohibiting betting and gambling. With this, Rummy made its way more accessible to the mainstream culture. 

A lot of people test their skills by playing online legitimately with the use of gaming sites. If you want to read more in-depth about the legalities of rummy, read our past article here.

Online Rummy

Indian Rummy is often played in casinos, homes, and clubs, but with the recent lockdowns, players have been flocking online sites that offer features such as chat and tips on how to play. 

Online rummy sites made it easier to set up private games with friends and family or even public games against people from all around the world. 

With 300 million smartphone users in India, playing Indian Rummy has never been more accessible with its smartphone adaptation. All you need to have is an internet connection to play the game online. 

Top Rummy Sites In India

If you are looking for the best rummy sites, here are our best picks!

  • Classic Rummy: It remains one of India’s biggest rummy sites and a great way to earn cash prizes. Classic Rummy runs promotional offers and contests every day. 
  • Junglee Rummy: This popular rummy site is one of the fastest-growing because of its innovative gaming features. The tables are well-designed and the most unique in the industry. 
  • RummyCircle: The tournaments include big tournaments compared to other platforms. It has the Grand Rummy Championship and Diwali Rummy Championship annually. 

Card games have long been part of the Indian culture, and it does not seem to be stopping any time soon. Future generations will continue to play it in a more modern set-up or from high-tech gadgets.  

Yes, it can be challenging to learn Rummy, but the fun that accompanies it has gotten players addicted for centuries.

Read our latest articles about Indian Rummy here:


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Vijay Mohandas
Author: Vijay Mohandas

Vijay is a long-time journalist and market analyst editor for the Indian and Asian gaming industry. Vijay is passionate about writing and analysing the trends, movers and shakers of the gaming industry and fantasy sports, especially cricket.

linkedin: Vijay Mohandas