Card Games

How to Play Hawaiian Rummy

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"How to Play Hawaiian Rummy"
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Rummy is one of those card games with endless variations, and one such variation not played quite as often as the others is Hawaiian Rummy. Though not as popular as some of the other variations, possibly because it implements even more luck into its game than other Rummies, Hawaiian Rummy is nevertheless great fun.


Hawaiian Rummy requires two complete decks of cards, including the Jokers. Shuffle both decks together. The number of cards dealt to the players depend on how many people are at the table. If there are two, each gets ten. If there are three or four, the ideal amount, each gets seven. Five or six get six cards. The rest of the cards form the Stock at the center of the table. Turn over one card.


As with other Rummy games, the goal in Hawaiian Rummy is to score points. In this case, however, you want to score as few points as possible compared to the other players. You do this by forming your cards into melds. In Hawaiian Rummy, melds consist of two possibilities:

- Sets of three or four of a particular number but of different suits. For example, four fives would be a set, or three sevens. Most melds will consist of these sets.

- Runs of four cards of the same suit. For example, the ten, jack, queen and king of hearts would form a run. You can only have one run per round of Hawaiian Rummy.

Unlike other Rummy games, Hawaiian Rummy allows for wild cards, in this case the four jokers and the eight twos. These twelve wild cards can be retrieved from sets in which they were used by players who can fill the gap they left behind. For example, if a set consists of three sixes and one two, and another player has the missing six suit, they can swap cards and take the two for their own.


Each turn has four phases.

- The first phase is drawing. The player has the option to pick up the card on the table or pass it to the player on their left. Passing requires sending another card from the top of the deck along with the first. 

- The second phase is melding. If you have a viable set of cards, you may lay it down on the table. This eliminates that set from scoring later on. Melding is optional.

- The third phase is laying off. You may add a card to another of your sets. For exmple, if you have three tens and you get the fourth ten, you can add it to the original set. You can also use this opportunity to take wild cards from other sets. Laying off is optional.

- The fourth phase is discarding. Each turn you must get rid of at least one card. When that's done play moves to the next player on your left.

Completion and Scoring

A game of Hawaiian Rummy ends when one player runs out of cards, having merged them all into sets. When that happens the remaining players count up the scores of their remaining cards. Cards are scored as such:

- Jokers are worth 50 points

- Twos and aces are worth 20 points

- Nines, tens and face cards are worth ten points

- All other cards are worth five points

Rounds continue until one player hits a set amount of points. This amount can be whatever you wish, though in Rummy 500 is a common scoring benchmark. The player with the least amount of points when you reach this number is the winner.  

More about this author: Matt Bird

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