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rummy

rummy, card game played by two to six players with a standard deck. The cards usually rank from king down through ace. Seven cards are dealt to each player in the three- or four-hand game, one card is turned up on the table, and the remaining cards are left face down in a stock pile. Players, in order, each draw one card from stock and then discard one card from their hands into the discard pile, face up. They have the option of drawing the top card from the discard pile. The object is to meld, that is to put down sets of cards—either three or four cards of the same rank or a sequence of three or more in the same suit. The first player to meld all his cards wins. A variation is knock rummy, in which a player may wait to meld seven cards for higher stakes, but may also knock after drawing from stock and discards. By knocking he lays down his cards, and if the nonmelded cards have a total less than the nonmelded cards of each of the other players, he wins. Aces are counted 1 point, each face card 10, and all others for their pip values. Gin rummy, a variant invented in 1909, became immensely popular in the early 1940s. Two may play and each is dealt 10 cards; knocking is permitted only with unmatched cards totaling 10 points or less. Gin is scored when all cards are melded. The game continues until 100 points are scored. Scoring is relatively complicated, for it involves box tallies and a system of bonus points. Between 1949 and 1951 a rummy variation from Argentina, canasta, became the biggest game fad in the United States since Mah-Jongg in the early 1920s. The Argentinean import for a time even surpassed contract bridge in popularity. It is played with two standard decks, plus four jokers, which, with the eight deuces, are wild cards. Red threes are counted as bonus cards and black threes may be used as defensive discards. It also is similar to some other (but by no means all) forms of rummy in that a card is turned up to form the basis of a discard pile and the whole pile may be drawn by a player. Furthermore, sequences have no value and suits no meaning. A player's object is to score the most points by making canastas (seven or more cards of the same rank or four or more cards of one rank plus wild cards to total seven cards constitute a canasta) and melding cards of the same rank. To go out of the game a player must lay at least one canasta on the table with the remaining cards in melded form. Canasta variants include Bolivia and Samba. Other popular varieties of rummy are five-hundred rummy, continental rummy, and panguingue.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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