OBJECTIVE OF BANAKIL: The objective of Banakil is to score a predetermined number of points to win the game.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  2 to 4 players

MATERIALS:  Two 52-card decks and two Jokers, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Draw and Discard Card Game



Banakil is a Rummy style card game where 2 to 4 players can participate. In the case of 4 players, there is an option to play in partnerships but otherwise, all other play is individual. The goal of the game is to meld cards from your hand to score points at the end of rounds. The player to reach a pre-discussed amount of points will win the game.


To set up the dealer is chosen randomly. The dealer will then shuffle the decks and Jokers to form one deck. Then the dealer will have the deck cut by the player to their left. Cards are then dealt 2 or 3 at a time, dealer’s choice, until each player has a hand of 18 cards. 

The remaining cards are placed in a facedown stockpile in the center of the table and the top card should be flipped to begin a discard pile. 

All cards then are taken into players’ hands and the game can begin. 

Card Rankings 

The ranking for Banakil is traditional except 2s are left out. The Ranking is Ace(high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3(low). Aces cannot be used as a low card in ranking because there is no 2 to lead to it. 2s and Jokers are wild cards removing them completely from the ranking system. 


The play is very similar to other Rummy games. The player on the right of the dealer will start the game following around is a counterclockwise order. Each player will have three sections to their turn to complete. The first being drawing cards, the second playing melds, and the third discarding a card. 

Drawing Cards

The first thing a player will do on their turn is draw cards. Players have two options for this, they may either draw one card from the top of the stockpile or they may draw one or multiple cards from the discard pile. 

If drawing from the stockpile there are no restrictions. You simply draw your card, add it to your hand, and continue playing. 

If, however you draw cards from the discard pile there are some restrictions to follow. If you only take the top card from the discard pile then there is no restriction to drawing the card, however, this same card cannot be then discarded at the end of the same turn. If you wish to draw more than one card from the discard pile, all other cards on top of the lowest card must also be drawn and taken into your hand. Any of these cards may then be discarded at the end of turn. 

There is no restriction from drawing from discard and can be done at any point during the round on the draw step of your turn. 


Melds are the way to play out cards from your hand to score points. Melds can be one of two things, sets or runs. 

Sets are threes or aces in groups of 3 or 4 of different suits. 

Runs are a series of cards in order of rank in the same suit. A valid example of a run would be Jack, 10 and 9 of diamonds.

All melds are placed in front of the player playing them for scoring later. 

Wild Cards

In every round, Jokers and 2s are wild cards. These wild cards can be played in place of a card in most circumstances. Say in the above scenario you are missing the 10 of diamonds, a wild card could be played in place of it to complete the meld.

In sets, only Jokers can be used as wild cards, and only one can be played in a set. In runs, only one Joker and one 2 can be played in a single run. 

Jokers, in either case, can be reclaimed by playing a valid card to a player’s own or partner’s run or set. Twos cannot be removed but can be moved by playing the valid card needed to complete a run. In the case of a complete run, the two would remain to make a run of thirteen instead of twelve. 

Playing on Melds

You may also play cards to your melds or your partner’s melds. To do this, you must play the card onto the appropriate meld. Valid cards can be added to runs or sets as long as they remain valid.  

This cannot be done however, till you as a player, have played a meld in front of yourself. 

Discarding Cards

After cards have been played a player will end their turn by discarding one card to the discard pile. A stated above if a player draws only one card from the discard then this card cannot be discarded built there are no other restrictions on discarding cards. 


There are three ways for a round to end, either a player discards their last card (called going out), a player plays out the last card in their hand, therefore not having a card to discard, or the last card of the stockpile is drawn but at the end of that turn, all players still have at least one card in their hand.

If the last option occurs, then the round ends but no scores are given to any players. In the case of the other two options, the round ends and scoring can begin.


After the round is concluded players will score their melds. There are points attributed to cards for this purpose. 

Jokers are worth 4 points, twos are worth 2 points, Aces are worth 1 and a half points. 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings are worth 1 point, and 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s are worth half a point.

All melded cards are added together and subtracted by cards remaining in a player’s hands. This can mean a player can score a negative amount of points. 

For going out, a player receives an additional 20 points. A player who has no melds does not score as above, instead, they receive a static negative 20 points.

Al player who manages to meld all the cards in their hand at one time without previously playing a meld, scores a static 40 points for the round.  This has an exception in partnership games where to score the 40 points all other players must not have played a meld yet. If they have, scores are found normally.

In individual games, a person’s score is kept separate from all other players, but in partnership games, partner scores are kept together and are scored differently. 

In partnership games, the round winner’s score is used to score, and the winner’s partner’s score is subtracted from the cumulative score of both losing opponents. 

For final scores in the positive, all halve points are rounded up, and for negatives, half points are ignored. 


The game ends when a player successfully reaches the predetermined score. If multiple players reach it during the same round the player with the higher total wins. 

Nakoa Davis