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Shanghai Rummy


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Things to Know Before You Play


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:

  • A specfic number of deals comprise a game
  • In each deal a "contract" or a particular, predtermined pattern of melds, are required to lay down any cards. Melding is the act of laying down or declaring (a combination of cards) in order to score points.
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.
 

Decks


  • For 3 to 4 players: use two decks of cards, 52 cards each plus one joker for a total of 105 cards.
  • For 5 or more players: use three decks of 52 cardseach, plus two jokers, for a total of 158 cards.
 

Card Values


  • The cards are ranked (high) K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 (low)
  • An ace may be ranked either high or low.
  • Jokers are wild

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


  • There are ten rounds
  • 11 cards are dealt to each player in every deal
  • Each player's turn consists of a draw, possible melding and a discard. Each player's turn must end in a discard, placed face up on the discard pile
  • Each meld consists of either a set, consisting of three or more cards of the same value, or a sequence consisting of four or more cards of the same rank and consecutive value
  • An ace may rank either high (A-K-Q) or low (3-2-A), but sequences may not extend "round the corner" (K-A-2)
  • Jokers are wild and can be played for any card value
  • When two or more sequences are required, they must be in different suits, or in the same suit. They cannot be in consecutive order and must be separated by at least one card.
  • The game uses the term "buying" for when an out-of-turn player takes an upcard.
  • There is a limit to the number of buys allowed.
  • There is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or sequence.
  • If you "go out blind" (discard all your cards in one play), you earn a bonus of 25 points (50 if you haven't used a joker). Note that a bonus subtracts points from your score, not adds them.
  • Number cards count as 5 points each for scoring, rather than the face value of the card.
Contracts: Each deal has a different contract, which consists of some combination of sets and sequences:
 
Deal NumberContract
1Two sets of 3
2One set of 3 and one sequence of 4
3Two sequences of 4
4Three sets of 3
5One set of 3 and one sequence of 7
6Two sets of 3 and one sequence of 5
7Three sequences of 4
8One set of 3 and one sequence of 10
9Three sets of 3 and one sequence of 5
10Three sequences of 5
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:
  • 1 joker may be used in a set of 3, or a sequence of 4
  • 2 jokers may be used in a sequence of 5
  • 3 jokers may be used in a sequence of 7
  • 4 jokers may be used in a sequence of 10
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:
 
3-9=5 points
10-K=10 points
Aces and Dueces=20 points
 
The player with the fewest points at the end of the seven deals wins the game.