Melding Games

Shanghai Rummy

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Shanghai Rummy

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This variant of classic Rummy is a fun and easy game to learn. It can be adjusted to meet the needs of the players, but this article will discuss how three or five players approach the game. Before most games begin, the group will usually establish who will be a point keeper for the game.

How to Play Shanghai Rummy

To begin a game of Shanghai Rummy the players need two decks of standard playing cards, including the jokers. The dealer gives each player eleven cards and the remainder of the deck is set in the middle of the table. A card is turned over, face up, and this becomes the discard pile.

The game is played in turns, and each turn consists of the player drawing a card from the deck or the discard pile, playing a set when possible and then discarding a card. The player who gets rid of all of their cards first is the winner, but the final move must be a discard in order to win.

Cards are eliminated by creating melds, which are composed of either sequences or groups. A sequence is four cards in the same suit which run in consecutive order. A group is three cards of the same rank. Jokers are wild cards and can be used as a substitute for a missing card.

Each hand of the game determines how play occurs. The contracts required for each hand are as follows:

  • Hand 1: two groups
  • Hand 2: one group and one sequence
  • Hand 3: two sequences
  • Hand 4: three groups
  • Hand 5: two groups and one sequence
  • Hand 6: one group and two sequences
  • Hand 7: three sequences with no discard

The first player to meld their cards wins the hand. The remaining players must total up the values of the cards they are holding at the end of the play as well as how many on the table as well.

Card Value in Shanghai Rummy

Card values are as follows:

  • 2 -9 = 5 points each
  • 10 - King = 10 points each
  • Aces and Jokers = 15 points each

Melding Cards in Shanghai Rummy

A hand begins with the player to the dealer’s left draws a card. The player then places groups and sequences from their hand, face up on the table. These are only those that are required for the hand (see chart above) – for instance a player in their first hand cannot lay down a single group, but must wait until they can lay down two at one time. If the player has already lain down melds during a game they can lay off more cards to each group or sequence, but not in the same turn as the meld itself.

Finally, the player completes their turn by discarding a single card into the discard pile. The other players have the right to take this card if they wish, though the next turn goes to the player on the last player’s immediate left.

If the deck ever runs out of cards the discard pile is simply flipped over and used in its stead, and play continues as normal.