21 Cards Rummy Rules

 

21 Card Rummy is a 'Points Rummy' variant which is the most popular rummy format in card rooms and clubs around the world. This game played between 2 to 6 players is played with three decks of cards with a printed joker of each deck which makes this game a fascinating, intriguing and involving game. With its various kinds of melds and four different combinations to declare a valid show makes this a fast paced game.

For those who are well versed and love playing 13 Cards Indian Rummy, it would be a rather exciting proposition to play 21 Card Rummy, simply because it's more thrilling and stimulating for the mind. The set of skills which you have perfected can be pushed further and used to its best when you play 21 cards rummy. However, before you begin to play, you need to familiarize yourself with some terminology, some of these are common to other rummy formats while a few are exclusively used for 21 Cards Rummy.

Toss: As in all rummy games, the toss is to decide which player will make the first move and which player will deal the cards. All players are distributed cards randomly and the player with the highest card is the winner and hence will be the first to make the move. The player with the lowest card will be the dealer for the game.

Seat Shuffle: Depending on the result of the toss, seats will be reshuffled in accordance with the card - highest to lowest. The player with highest card will be the one to make the first move and the player with the lowest will be the dealer and will be the last to play his/her turn.

Jokers: Like in other rummy games, the Joker is a card which can be used in place if any other card. In 21 Card Rummy, there are three kinds of Jokers; Wild Card Jokers, Upper & Lower Joker and Printed Jokers. Thus we have:

Wild Card Joker: After the cards are doled to the players, a card is picked randomly before the game begins. This card is declared as the joker for that game.

E.g. 6♥ 5♠ 8♥ is a valid sequence where 5♠ is the wild card joker. Thus 5 of all the suits; 5♠ 5♥ 5♣ 5♦ are all the jokers.

Upper Joker and Lower Joker: A card lower and a card higher to the selected Wild Card Joker are called Upper Joker and Lower Joker respectively.

E.g. if 9♣ is selected as a Wild Card Joker then besides all the 9s of the three decks 9♠ 9♥ 9♣ 9♦, you will also have 8♣ and 10♣ as the two Upper and Lower Jokers. The Upper and Lower jokers can also be used in place of any other card to complete a sequence or a set.

E.g. In case an Ace of club, A♣ is picked as the Wild Card Joker then K♣ and 2♣ will be the Upper and Lower Jokers respectively. However it should be noted that a sequence of K-A-2 is not a valid sequence even if Ace is a Joker.

E.g. In case a Printed Joker is picked randomly as the Wild Card Joker then all Aces will be considered as Wild Card Jokers, A♠ A♥ A♣ A♦. However it should be noted that in such a case Ace of Spade will be considered as a Value Card, thus K♠ and 2♠ will be the Upper and Lower Joker.

Value Cards: The cards of same value and suit as the one picked randomly as wildcard joker will be called value cards. A card higher to this selected card and a card lower will also be considered as Value Cards and will have same attribute as Joker and thus referred as Upper Joker and Lower Joker respectively. Besides this, all the three Value Cards (8♣ 9♣ 10♣ - here 9♣ was the randomly picked wild card joker) appearing in a hand is a Jackpot and earns points for the player from the opponent/s.

Printed Joker: These are the original Joker of the deck, in 21 Card Rummy which is played with 3 decks there will be 3 Printed Jokers, one from each deck, which can be used in place of any other card to form a sequence or set.

Sequence or Life: A Sequence or Life is three or more running cards of the same suit with or without a joker.
E.g. - 7♦ 8♦ 9♦ and 7♦ 3♣ 9♦ where three of club is a joker.

Pure Sequence or Pure Life: A Pure Sequence or Pure Life is three or more running cards without a Joker.
E.g. - 7♦ 8♦ 9♦ and 2♣ 3♣ 4♣ where three of club is a joker, yet its a pure sequence

Set: A Set is three or more cards of the same face value but of different suits. It is important to note that a set cannot contain two cards of the same suit
E.g. - 5♠ 5♥ 5♣ 5♦ is thus a valid set while 5♠ 5♠ 5♣ 5♦ is an invalid set as it contains two 5♠

  • Three identical cards of same value and same suit is called a Tunnela (or London) in 21 Card Rummy
    E.g. - 5♥ 5♥ 5♥.
  • Two identical cards with a joker is not a valid Tunnela or London
    E.g. - 6♦ 6♦ K♦ (where K♦ is a joker), a Joker cannot be used to make a Tunnela.
  • A valid Tunnela can be formed of three Printed Jokers grouped together.
  • A Tunnela is also considered as a pure sequence in 21 card rummy.
  • Two identical cards of the same value is called a Dublee in 21 Cards Rummy
    E.g. - 5♥ 5♥
  • One card plus a joker, such as 6♦ K♦ (where K♦ is a joker), is not a valid Dublee. Joker cannot be used to make a Dublee, unless used as a regular card and not a Joker, e.g. K♦ K♦ (here K♦ is a joker yet a valid Dublee)
  • A valid Dublee can also be formed with two printed jokers grouped together.
  • A player can declare a valid show if they have eight (8) dublees in hand in 21 Card Rummy
  • If a player has Six Dublees in hand in 21 card rummy, then the player will lose only 2 points when another player declares.













  • Three decks of playing cards are used for playing 21 Card Rummy (includes 1 printed joker per deck).
  • The player to make the first move and the player to deal is decided by a toss
  • 21 Cards are randomly dealt to each player during the dealing
  • After the cards are doled, a card is selected randomly and declared as Wild Card Joker
  • All cards of same value over all suits are thus jokers
  • The cards of the same suit and value as the one picked as Wild Card Joker are called Value Cards, a card higher to this and a card lower to this card are also considered as Value Cards and have same attribute as Joker and thus called Upper Joker and Lower Joker respectively.
  • If a printed joker gets picked randomly as a Wild Card Joker than all Ace cards are considered as joker. Subsequently Ace of Spade, A♠, is considered as Value Card and thus K♠ A♠ 2♠ becomes the Value Cards with K♠ and 2♠ being the Lower and Upper Jokers. This also means that in such a game there will be 20 jokers (including Wild Cards Jokers, Upper Jokers, Lower Jokers and Printed Jokers).
  • A player plays a turn by picking and discarding a card. A player may pick up a card from either the face down closed deck or face up open pile of cards. Subsequently a player needs to discard a card onto the open file of card.
  • A turn, picking and discarding of card, needs to be completed within the allotted time ticking on the timer.
  • If a player does not pick and discard within the allotted time, their turn will be considered missed.
  • A player picks a card and does not discard a card subsequently within the allotted time, the card picked will automatically be discarded by the system.
  • If a player misses turn, auto play mode will activate and cards will be picked and discarded by the system automatically. The card picked will be the card discarded by the system. If player does not deactivate auto play and start to play, after 20 turns the player will be dropped. The player will get middle drop and incur 70 points.
  • Player can view the discarded card by clicking on the 'Discard' button available on the upper right hand side off the table. This will show all the cards discarded and picked by all the players playing on that table.
  • A joker cannot be picked from the open pile of discarded cards, however if the first open card on the open pile at the start of the game happens to be a joker, only the player making the first move is allowed to pick the card.
  • Discarded cards pile shows only one card at the top at any given time, the other cards from the discarded pile are automatically placed back randomly in the face down pile.

When a player fails to make/complete a move during the allotted time of their turn, the system gives them an extra time of 15 Seconds. This is one time useable extra time in one round of a game. Similarly players get an extra time of 15 Seconds to meld cards on declaration of a show.

Players have an option to drop a game any time in the duration of the game. However, they can take a drop only during their turn. Taking a drop in the first move/first turn incurs 30 points (referred as First Drop) and thereafter any time during the game incurs 70 points (referred as Middle Drop).

  • To declare a show a player must drag a card into the 'show place' or click on the card and choose 'show'.
  • Once the show is declared, player gets allotted time to group and meld the cards and an extra time too for melding cards.
  • If a player declares a show, each of the other players also needs to group and meld their cards in the allotted time. If the player fails to group all the cards in the allotted time, the cards remaining ungrouped will be counted.
  • To declare a valid show, player must have the 21 Cards in one of the following arranged combination:
    • At least three pure sequences without a joker and rest of the cards in sets or sequences with or without joker.
    • At least three Tunnelas (three cards of same value, same suit), rest of the cards need not be grouped or arranged.
    • At least eight Dublees (two cards of same value, same suit), rest of the cards need not be grouped or arranged.
    • Player can arrange eight jokers in a single group and declare a valid show, rest of the cards need not be grouped or arranged.

When a player declares a show, the cards need to be grouped and meld to present for validating. All players need to group and meld their cards to present for validation. The system validates the show and declares the scores.

On declaring a valid show the system announces the score. The scoring in 21 Cards Rummy is based on various criteria. Scoring for each player is computed by the system depending on these criteria as follows:

  • 30 points are lost by each of the players who take a drop in their first turn. These 30 points of each player is gained by the winner who declares a valid show.
  • 70 points are lost by each of the players who take a drop after the first move . These 70 points of each player is gained by the winner who declares a valid show.
  • Calculation of points lost by players other than the one declaring is computed by the system. Loosing players thus get minus points for deadwood cards (unutilized/ non-grouped/non melds) as follows:
    • A, K, Q and J of all suit carry 10 points each
    • Pip cards 1,2,3,4,5,,6,7,8,9,10 carry points as their face value. E.g. – 1=1 and 5=5 and 9=9
    • Joker carries zero point
  • The scoring section in the game result will show negative for loosing players.
  • The points calculation is done as follows:
    • All cards will be counted if the player has failed to make any sequences, however the maximum score would be 120 points. e.i. – if a players cards adds to 150 points, the player still gets 120 points only
    • If player has failed to make mandatory 3 pure sequences, but has made 1 or 2 pure sequences, cards of these pure sequences will not be counted but all other cards will be counted including of the sequences made using jokers.
    • If player has all the 3 mandatory sequences, then all other sets and sequences using the joker are valid and only cards that are deadwood would be counted.
    • Under all circumstances a player can loose a maximum of 120 points in one hand
  • Some saving grace for loosing players in 21 Cards Rummy is as follows:
    • Player looses only 2 points if all the cards are arranged in valid sets and sequences including of 3 mandatory pure sequences
    • Player looses only 2 points if he has grouped 6 or more Dublees and if each of the Dublee is grouped separately
    • Player looses only 2 points if he has 7 or more jokers and if all the jokers are grouped together separately from other cards.
  • The sum total of the winners points will be sum total of the points of all the other players who lost their points. The score section will always show the winner's points in positive while those of looser in negative.
  • If player miss their turns auto play is activated. However after 20 turns of auto play, the system drops the player out of the game and the player looses points equivalent to middle drop, i.e. 70 points.
  • If a player declares a wrong show, the player looses 120 points which is the maximum loosing points, the game however continues till a valid show is declared by a player.

In 21 Cards Rummy the randomly picked card to announce the Wildcard Joker is considered Value Card, thus all cards of the same value and suit are Value Cards as also the card higher and lower in rank (Upper Joker and Lower Joker) are also Value Card. Each player, including the loosing player receives points if they have these cards in hand.

  • The points for these Value Cards are as follows:
    • One card = 10 Points
    • Two Cards = 30 Points
    • Three Cards = 50 points
  • In case of a combination of Value Cards called Jackpot or Marriage:
    • 1 Upper + 1 Same Suit + 1 Lower = 100 points
    • 2 Upper + 2 Same Suit + 2 Lower = 300 points
    • 3 Upper + 3 Same Suit + 3 Lower = 500 points


Note: It should be noted that a marriage need not be grouped to receive points. The cards in a marriage can be used as normal jokers to form other sets/sequences. If these value cards have been counted in a marriage, they will not fetch individual points for the player. Also the player who made invalid declaration will gain and loose points for the Value Cards they possess, if any.

Calculations of points for different combination of Value Cards

2 Up Jokers – 30 Points
1 Up Joker, 1 Down Joker – 20 points
2 Up Jokers, 1 Down Joker – 40 points
2 Same Suit Joker, 2 Down Jokers – 60 points
1 Up Joker, 1 Down Jokerm 1 Same Suit Joker – 100 points

Thus the score for a player can be simplified by the formula below:

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