Contract Rummy

OBJECTIVE OF CONTRACT RUMMY: Get rid of our cards by melding, laying off, or discarding by satisfing each rounds contract.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3-5 players; 4 is optimal

NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card deck + 1 joker

RANK OF CARDS: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (low)




Contract Rummy is the name given to a family of Rummy variants with the similar features: the game is comprised of a particular number of deals and each deal is defined by a contract, that is the pattern of melds that must be achieved in order to lay down your cards.

The first version of Contract Rummy is believed to be Zioncheck, created by Ruth Armson. Popular Contract Rummy variations are: King Rummy, Continental Rummy, Shanghai Rummy, Liverpool Rummy, Progressive Rummy, and Carioca Rummy.


Contract Rummy games with greater than 5 players are played with 2 decks + 2 jokers. Jokers act as wild cards and may be used to substitute any card.

To choose the first dealer, shuffle and cut the deck. Each player will then draw a card, the person who draws the lowest value card deals first. The deal moves to their left.

There are seven deals total in Contract Rummy. In the first four deals, players receive 10 cards each. In the remaining deals, players receive 12 cards each. The dealer starts to their left and moves clockwise. Cards are dealt one at a time, face-down. Once all the cards for the deal are dealt, the remainder of the deck forms the stock pile. The top card of the stock is flipped over and placed beside it to form the discard pile.


Deal 1: 10 cards, 2 sets

Deal 2: 10 cards, 1 set and 1 sequence

Deal 3: 10 cards, 2 sequence

Deal 4: 10 cards, 3 sets

Deal 5: 12 cards, 2 sets and 1 sequence

Deal 6: 12 cards, 1 set and 2 sequences

Deal 7: 12 cards, 3 sequences

Fulfill the contracts by setting down the appropriate melds for that deal.

If the contract requires multiple sequences, they may not be from the same suit.

The seventh round/deal typically requires all cards be melded at once, this means a meld can be greater than 4 cards.


The play begins with the first player to the left of the dealer and moves clockwise. A turn has three parts:

  1. Players may draw the top card from the stockpile, keeping it secret from other players, and adding it to your hand. Players may also draw one or more cards from the discard pile. You can take cards from within the discard pile if (not on top of it): the card is immediately melded (see below) and you take all the cards above the card you choose to meld.
  2. Players may meld combinations of cards in their hand by placing them face-up on the table. Players may also ‘lay off’ their cards on pre-existing melds, whether it is their own or other players. Melded cards are scored for the player who melded them, so, if you wish to add your card to someone else’s meld place it in front of yourself. Rules for melding are outlined below.
  3. Players may discard. Unless every card in your hand was used to meld you must discard one card face-up on top of the discard pile. If you drew a single card from the top of the discard pile you are not permitted to discard that card. However, if you drew multiple cards from the discard you may choose one of those to discard again.

How to form a Meld: 

  • A meld can be a set of 3 or 4 cards of equal value. For example, King of Hearts, King of Spades, and King of Diamonds. In games with more than one deck, the meld can not have 2 cards in a group from the same suit. For example, you can not have 2 five of diamonds and one five of hearts, they must be all different.
  • A meld can be a sequence of 3 or more cards that are both consecutive and from the same suit. For example, if all the cards are spades, 3-4-5-6 is a valid meld.

Melds can be added onto if it extends the sequence. This process is called ‘laying off.’ Jokers act as wild cards and can be used to substitute any card in a meld. The rank of the Joker must be announced and remain unchanged through the course of the game.


Jokers, as mentioned above, are wild cards that may be used to substitute any card needed to complete a meld. Players must state the suit and rank of the card they wish to replace it with.

If a player has met their contract on a previous turn, if another player uses a joker in a sequence to substitute a card they have in hand, while they lay off they may exchange those cards and take the joker. The joker, however, must be used during that turn and cannot be saved for later.

Jokers played in sets are dead and cannot be reclaimed.


A player ‘goes out’ if they have fulfilled the contract of that round and played all their cards. If this happens, the hand is over for all players, and hands are scored. Players collect penalty points for cards in hand.

Face Cards (K, Q, J): 10 points each

Aces: 15 points each

Joker: 15 points

Number Cards: Face Value

The game ends after all 7 deals. The player with the lowest number of points is considered the winner.




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