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Rummikub Rules: How do you Play Rummikub?

There’s A Reason It’s Called Rummikub

If you have ever played gin rummy, you have played Rummikub with cards, instead of Rummikub numbered and colored game tiles.  That said, the rest of this article should be easy to follow.

Today the game Rummikub is offered online, and electronics permit you to play with persons of many different countries.  This is always interesting for young and old players alike. Rummikub Rules are the same for every country, so don’t let anyone con you, even in the wildest of games.

Initially, everyone draws one tile to see who holds the highest number and begins the game.  Then each player is “dealt” 14 tiles and arranges them on their private tile display rack, according to number or color to make their initial meld.  A group meld is a grouping of 3 or more tiles of the same number or in a numeric sequence of the same color: (example: 555 in various colors or 6789 in one color).  A numeric meld of tiles is called a run.

What Are We Trying to Do, Exactly?

The game objective is to be the first to play all of your tiles and eventually be high scorer, so you want to have as many melds as possible, to use up your tiles.  However, Rummikub Rules dictate your Initial Meld must total 30 points or you have to forfeit your turn and draw a tile from the pool.

When it is your turn, lay the tiles you have which make melds out on the board.  You must first lay your initial meld of 30 points.  In your subsequent turns after the first 30 point meld you can lay out extra tiles to augment melds you have previously laid out in prior turns.  For example, if you have previously played the meld of 678. you  could add a 5 or 9 to it of the same color. If you have four 5s played previously, you may manipulate the meld and move one of those fives into the meld of 678.

Joker Is A Wild Man

Rummikub Rules state that a Joker, red or black, can be played like a “deuces wild” theme in card games. However, if caught with one in your rack after a winner plays all their tiles, that Joker will be 30 point penalty against you.  In Rummikub, you really have to “know when to hold them and know when to play them”.

After a winner plays all their tiles, the rack of each player is tallied and this number is given in a total to the winner as their high or positive score.  The same number of tiles are considered a negative score to the player who was caught holding them. The score continues through subsequent “hands” until all tiles are played from the pool.

Winning the Game

The game is considered over when there are no more free tiles in the pool and a winner is tallied from the scores accumulated, negative and positive.

Be A Manipulator!

The heat of Rummikub is in the manipulating of tiles on your board to add to previous melds, thereby using more single tiles in play.  Sometimes the manipulating becomes very complex, so play close attention to your tiles and the melds of other players.

Each player must complete their turn within the time limit set at the beginning of the game: 60 seconds or more or less as determined by the Starter of the game, per Rummikub Rules.


A strategy in this game could be to hold onto a Joker in order to play it at the last moment when needing it to run out of tiles.  Another ploy would be to have four of one number but only play three of them in a meld, retaining the fourth one to be your last tile played to win the hand.

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