OBJECTIVE OF GERMAN RUMMY: Be the player with the highest score at the end of the game

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: Two 52 card decks and Four Jokers

RANK OF CARDS: (low) Ace – Ace (high)


AUDIENCE: Adults, Family


Although this game is called German Rummy by outsiders, within its homeland it is simply known as Rommé. German Rummy differentiates itself from the classic 500 Rum by utilizing two decks, 4 Jokers, and the ability to “plunder” Jokers from established melds.  Think you will be able to start dropping melds on the table quickly?  Think again!  Your first meld must be worth at least 40 points. 

Play one round for each player at the table, so each player gets to deal one time.  The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins.


German Rummy is played with two 52 card decks and 4 Jokers.  The traditional German Rommé deck comes with 6 jokers, but most French decks only come with 2.

The dealer doles out 13 cards to each player one at a time.  The remaining cards are placed in the center of the table and become the draw pile.  The dealer should then flip one card over face up to begin the discard pile.


In German Rummy, there are two types of melds: runs and sets. A run is a sequence of three or more cards of the same suit.  2-3-4-5 all of hearts is an example of a run.  The second type of meld is called a set.  A set is composed of three or more cards of the same rank.  Q-Q-Q is an example of a set.  Sets may not contain cards of the same suit.

In this game, Aces can be played both high or low, but players cannot go around the corner.  This means that Aces cannot be played in the middle of the run.  For example, playing Q-K-A-2 is an illegal run.

Melds may be built with Jokers, but there is a special rule that applies.  A meld cannot be built with more than one joker unless there is at least two other cards.  For example, set of 3-Joker-Joker is an illegal meld.  A 3-3-Joker-Joker is perfectly legal.


During the game, a player’s first meld must be worth at least 40 points.  Once a player successfully lays down a meld worth 40 points or more, they may begin playing other melds.


Once a player has played their first meld, they may also lay off.  This is done by playing cards on melds that have already been built.  A player may lay off on their own meld or their opponents’.


Each player’s turn is composed of three parts: draw, meld, and discard.

When a player draws, they may take the top card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile.

After drawing, the player may create melds.  The first meld they lay down on the table must be worth at least 40 points.  Players may also lay off on other melds if the first meld requirement has been met.  They may also swap out Jokers if they are able (see Joker rules below).

To end a turn, a player must discard one card from their hand to the top of the discard pile.

A round is over once a player has emptied their hand.  They may empty their hand by playing a meld, laying off, or by discarding.


If a player has played their first meld, they may swap cards from their hand with Jokers that are out on the table.  For example, if an opponent has played and run of spades 3-4-Joker-6, and the player has the 5 of spades, they may swap out their 5 for the Joker. That Joker must immediately be played in a new meld.  The player is not allowed to keep the Joker in their hand.


Once a player successfully empties their hand, the round is over.  The winning player earns points equal to the value of their melded cards.  All other players earn points equal to the difference between their melded cards and the cards left in their hand.

Cards are worth the following points:

King, Queen, Jack10 Points
10 – 2Points equal to the value of the card
Ace11 points in a set 11 points when used high 1 point when used low 11 points if still in hand at end of the round
JokerPoints equal to the card it is replacing 30 points if still in hand at end of the round


The player with the highest score at the end of the final round wins.  In the event of a tie, player’s involved in the tie should play until the tie is broken. 

Mark Ball
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