Shanghai Rummy

Shanghai Rummy Rules

Shanghai Rummy is a game my family has played for generations, I think from the times of WWII in my grandparent’s day and perhaps even before. It’s very competitive but fun at the same time. Everytime my family gathers together, this is the game we love to play. It’s one of those things that just hearing about it makes you think of family!

  • There are ten rounds. One deck of cards per two players.
  • Game plays best with a 3 to 8 people.
  • 11 cards are dealt to each player in every deal. The “dealer” (and shuffler) starts as one person and moves clockwise to the next person in each consecutive hand.
  • Jokers and twos (deuces) are always wild.
  • Each player may buy up to 3 times per hand.
  • There is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or sequence.
  • If you “go out blind” (discard all your cards in one play), you must have a discard.
  • This game is not like phase ten – everyone plays the same hand. If you did not lay down in the deal before someone went “out” then you count all your cards, those are added to your point total, and you move on to the next hand.

Contracts: Each deal has a different contract, which consists of some combination of sets and runs:

Deal Number



Two Sets of 3


One Set of 3 and One Run of 4


Two Runs of 4


Three Sets of 3


One Set of 3 and One Run of 7


Two Sets of 3 and One Run of 5


Three Runs of 4


One Set of 3 and One Run of 10


Three Sets of 3 and One Run of 5


Three Sequences of 5


A “set” is three cards of any non-wild card: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. For example, three Aces or three 5’s and they can be in ANY suit. (A five of spades, a five of clubs, and a five of diamonds for example or two fives of diamonds and a five of clubs, etc.)

A “run” is four (or more) cards in the same suit and in order by rank. For example, you could have a 5,6,7,8 of clubs or a 10, J, Q, K, A of spades. MUST be only one suit and in order.

Buying: A “buy” is when an out-of-turn player takes the pervious person’s discard. The player has to draw an extra card from the stockpile, and cannot play the cards immediately, but must wait for his turn. If more than one player wants it, the one closest to the dealer’s left has precedence.

There is a limit to the number of buys allowed: up to three buys per hand. Maximum of 17 cards. So, you start with 11 cards, first buy puts you at 13 cards, second buy puts you at 15 cards, and third buy puts you at 17 cards. So you should always be able to count your cards to tell if you need to pick up or discard and for how many buys you have left.

Jokers and deuces: There is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or run. You cannot use more wild cards than regular cards in a hand. For example, in a run of 4 you must have at least 2 regular cards (such as a 10 and Jack of hearts). In a set of three, you must have two regular numbered cards such as two Jacks and one wild or two fives and one wild.

Points: The object of the game is to complete all 10 hands without gaining many points. You can do that by trying to go down or out in each hand before someone else has. Also, always discard the highest point cards that you do not need (except wild cards, which you can discard, but will greatly benefit your competitors!)

  • Jokers/Deuces = 20
  • Aces = 15 (Aces are HIGH only)
  • 10 thru King = 10
  • 3 thru 9 = 5

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