OBJECTIVE OF NEPALI MARRIAGE:  Be the player with the highest score at the end of the game

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 – 5 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 156 card deck made of three standard French decks

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2’s – K’s (high), Aces may be high or low




Marriage is a Rummy game that finds its origins in Nepal.  This game has many different types of melds and is played with three full decks of cards.  Players begin with a huge hand of 21 cards.  It should be noted that there are an incredible amount of variations for this game.  The rules included below form one of the many ways to play.


Marriage uses three full 52 card French decks for a total of 156 cards.  During each round, different cards will become wild.  Aces can be high or low but not used to go around the corner.  This means that the sequences A-2-3 and Q-K-A are okay, but Q-K-A-2-3 is not.

To determine the first dealer and scorekeeper for the game, each player takes a card from the deck.  The player with the lowest card deals first, and must keep score for the entire game.  From this point on, the deal passes to the left each round.

Dealer collects all the cards, shuffles them thoroughly, and deals 21 cards to each player.


Each player’s turn has three phases: draw, meld, and discard,


At the beginning of a player’s turn, they may draw a card from the top of the draw pile or the top of the discard pile.  Only the top card of the discard pile may be drawn, and it cannot be the card that is discarded at the end of the turn.

If the draw pile is ever depleted, collect all of the discard pile (leaving the top card behind) and shuffle it thoroughly.  This becomes the new draw pile.  


There are many different types of melds in this game:

Tunnela – A set of three identical cards such as 7♥-7♥-7♥.  Tunnelas received during the deal may be immediately played to the table.  These will count as extra points.  

Triplet – A set of three cards of the same rank but all three are different suits such as 8♥-8♠-8♦.

Dirty Triplet – A set of three cards containing two cards of the same rank and different suits as well as a wild card such as W-3♥-3♠.  A dirty triplet can also be made of two wilds and any other third card that isn’t wild such as W-W-6♣.

Pure Sequence – Three cards of the same suit in sequential order such as 5♠-6♠-7♠.

Dirty Sequence –  A sequence of three cards in which two are the same suit and one is a wild card such as J♠-Q♠-W.  A dirty sequence can also be made of two wilds and any third card that isn’t wild.

Marriage – A perfect sequence of three wild cards such as 9♣-10♣-J♣ (if 10♣ is wild).  See WILD CARD section for more information.

After a player has drawn, they can begin building melds in their hand. A player cannot play melds to the table until they have met specific contracts.

Other than tunnelas received during the deal, a player must meet the Opening Contract by building three melds that include tunnelas, pure sequences, or a combination of the two.  Once the player has these built, they may play them to the table.  All three melds should be played at once.  After completing this contract, the player is eligible to complete the Closing Contract that allows them to win the round.  

The first player to meet the Opening Contract gets to determine the wild cards for the rest of the round.  That player chooses a card at random from the middle of the draw pile.  They look at the card and place it face down at the bottom of the draw pile.  Only they know the wild cards at the start.  After other players have met the Opening Contract, they may look to find out the wild card for the game.

Once a player has met the Opening Contract, they are eligible to meet the Closing Contract in order to win the round. To meet the closing contract, a player must build four more valid three card melds from the list stated above.  


To end a player’s turn, they must discard one card from their hand.  The discard pile is built up in such a way that all previously discarded cards can be seen.  This allows all players to see which cards are no longer available. 


After drawing, if a player has met the Closing Contract, they may play the melds to the table and discard their final card.  


There are some special rules regarding which cards become wild in this game.  Once the first player to meet the Opening Contract has chosen the wild card, all of the wilds are activated.  For example, if the 7♣’s are chosen as wild, then all of the 6♣’s and 8♣’s become wild as well. For the sake of scoring, the wild card chosen is known as the main wild, and the other two wild cards are known as secondary wilds.   


In this game, the player who ended the round immediately earns 10 points for each other player in the game.  So if there are 4 players total, that player earns 30 points for ending the round.  

All players earn points based on the wild cards in their melds and hand regardless of whether or not contracts have been met.  Points earned for the wild cards depend on whether they are part of a meld or not. 

Main wild card point values are as follows (not part of a meld):

Individual = 3 points

Two = 7 points total  

Secondary wild card point values are as follows (not part of a meld):

Individual = 2 points

Two = 5 points total

Three = 10 points total

Points are earned for tunnela’s played immediately after the deal:

One tunnela = 5 points

Two tunnelas = 15 points total

Three tunnelas = 25 points total

Tunnelas played at the start might end up including wilds.  Points are earned as follows:

One tunnela composed of three secondary wild cards = 15 points

Two tunnelas composed of three secondary wilds = 35 points total

In the case that three tunnelas are played at the start of the game, the third tunnela would just count as 5 points.

Marriages that are still in hand = 10 points for one or 30 points for two

Marriages that have been played to the table = 15 points for one or 35 points for two.


Play one round for each player in the game, so each player deals one time.  The player with the highest score at the end of the final round wins.

Mark Ball
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