OBJECTIVE OF ROBBER’S RUMMY: Be the first player to get rid of their entire hand


NUMBER OF CARDS: Two 52 card decks, four jokers

RANK OF CARDS: (low) Ace – Ace (high)


AUDIENCE: Family, Adults


Robber’s Rummy is a rummy game that challenges players to empty their hands by creating melds.  Melds are played to the center of the playing space.  There are many aspects of this game that make it very unique.  For instance, a player’s turn does not start with a draw.  Players are able to make melds right away.  Secondly, there is no discard pile.  The final difference, and the reason for the game’s name, is that cards can be taken (or robbed) from previously played melds in order to form new ones.


Robber’s Rummy is played with two standard 52 card decks.  Up to four jokers may be used.   

To decide who will be the first dealer, have each player take a card from the deck.  The player with the lowest card deals first.  The dealer should dole out eleven cards to each player one at a time.  Play will move clockwise around the table. 


In Robber’s Rummy, there are two types of melds. A run is a sequence of three or more cards of the same suit.  2-3-4-5 all of clubs 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.  Players are allowed to go around the corner.  This means that Aces can be played in the middle of the run.  For example, playing Q-K-A-2 is an example of going around the corner.  This rule is optional, and it makes creating melds much easier.  With Robber’s Rummy, allowing players to go around the corner will speed the game up a lot.

As stated above, Robber’s Rummy is unique in that players are allowed to rob cards from established melds in order to create new ones.  When doing this, there must be enough cards left behind to leave a legal meld on the table.  For example, in the meld 4-5-6-7, a player cannot steal the 5 to build a new meld because that would leave an illegal runon the table.  However, a player is able to steal the 5 if they are able to replace it with a Joker.

On a player’s turn, a player can reorganize any of the cards out on the table as needed as long as every card ends up as part of a legal meld.  None of the cards are allowed to be picked up and kept. 


Players may not play any cards onto the table until they have created their first meld.  A player’s first meld must equal 40 points or more.  Once a player has created and layed such a meld, they are able to create and play smaller melds. They are also able to lay off and rob from the table.


After playing their first meld, players may lay off cards onto existing melds. 


A player’s turn is quite unique in Robber’s Rummy.

A player begins their turn by playing melds.  If they are unable to play a meld, or if they do not wish to play a meld, they must draw a card from the draw pile.  If they did play a meld, they have the option of drawing a card. 

If a player draws a card, they have one more opportunity to make melds.  Afterward, their turn is over and play passes to the next player. 

If at the beginning of their turn a player lays down a meld and chooses not to draw a card, their turn is immediately over.

Please note that there is no discard pile in this game.  Players will never discard.  The only way to remove cards from your hand is to play them in melds.


Only one Joker can be used within a meld.  When a player is robbing and rearranging melds on the table, jokers may be used to represent any card needed.  Jokers may be moved freely in order to create new melds.


The first player to empty their hand wins the game.

Mark Ball
Latest posts by Mark Ball (see all)