First, Shanghai Rummy has one of the longest rule descriptions of any of the games we feature on Go Camping America. However, it's one of our favorites for a reason and think it's worth the few extra minutes to get through the rules.
Second, there are many different variations of Rummy, with Contract Rummy as the general name given for a whole class of Rummy games. All rummy games share two specific characterisitics:
With all that, Shanghai Rummy is a version with more contracts and wilder scoring.
Number of Players
3 to 8 players, each plays for themselves. No partnerships.
Starting a Game
To determine who deals first, the deck is shuffled and cut and each player draws a card. The player drawing the lowest card delas first. Thereafter, the deal passes from player to player to the left. Cards are dealt clockwise, starting with the player on the dealers left. After dealing, the top card is turned as the upcard, and the remainder of the deck is turned face-down to form the stock.
How to Play
Contracts: Each deal has a different contract, which consists of some combination of sets and sequences:
Buying: A "buy" is when an out-of-turn players takes the upcard. It works basically the same as it does in Contract Rummy. The player has to draw an extra card from the stock, and cannot play the cards immediately, but must wait for his turn. If more than one player wants it, the one closest to the dealer's left has precedence.
There is a limit to the number of buys allowed. In contracts 1 through 8, each player is only allowed 3 buys per hand. In contracts 9 and 10, each player is allowed 4 buys per hand.
Jokers: There is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or sequence:
The Draw: The player in turn may draw either the top card of the discard pile, or the top card of the stock. If he does not want the discard, he may decline it, and any other player may take it. The right to take it passes to the palyer's left (clockwise around the table). If an out-of-turn player takes the top of the discard pile, he must also draw the top card of the stock (as a penalty), but he may not yet meld, lay off, or discard, since it is not yet his turn.
Once the fate of the discard has been decided, the in-turn player must take the top card of the stock. Since he has refused the discard, he cannot take the top of the discard pile, even if a new card has been revealed.
Fulfilling the Contract: Once an in-turn player has drawn a card, he may fulfill the contract by laying down the appropriate melds. He may only lay down the precise melds as called for in the contract. He may not lay off any additional cards at this time.
Laying Off: In the subsequent turns after a player's contract has been met, he may lay off additional cards to any meld on the table, whether his own or his opponents. However, he may not create any new melds of his own. A player may not lay off any cards until he himself has met the contract.
Jokers: A joker is a wild card, an may be used to in place of any other card as part of a meld. When doing so, the player must state its suit and rank. Any player in turn (providing he's already fulfilled his contract) may later trade the actual card for the joker, and may then either use the joker immediately, or hold it in his hand.
Going Out: When a player has discarded his last card, the hand is over, and scored. If the stock is exhausted before any player has gone out, the discard pile is shuffled by the original dealer and turned face-down to form a new stock.
Scoring: At the end of a hand, each player scores the sum of all cards in his hand. For purposes of scoring, the cards remaining in the players hand have the following values:
Aces and Dueces=20 points
The player with the fewest points at the end of the seven deals wins the game.