Shanghai Rummy is played with a set of unique rules. It can be played with 3 to 5 players. Learn Shanghai Rummy rules as well as how to play Shanghai Rummy.
Shanghai Rummy Rules
Shanghai Rummy is more similar to Contract Rummy than Gin Rummy, and involves “buys” and “contracts” that change with each hand dealt. It requires 2 standard decks and 4 Jokers. The number of Jokers used is equal to 1 less than the number of players (for example, 3 Jokers are used in a 4-player game).
Each game consists of 10 hands (though games consisting of only 7 hands are commonly played). At the beginning of each hand, players receive 11 cards. Each hand is governed by a different contract. Players can meld, lay off, or discard in any way they wish as long as they first fulfill that hand’s contract.
Each hand’s contract is based upon groups of like cards (for example, K-K-K) or same-suit sequences (for example, 2-3-4-5 of hearts). The number of cards required for each group is 3. The number of cards required in a sequence is dictated by that hand’s contract. To illustrate, here are the contracts for each of the 10 hands of Shanghai Rummy:
Hand #1: 2 groups of 3
Hand #2: 1 group of 3 and 1 sequence of 4
Hand #3: 2 sequences of 4
Hand #4: 3 groups of 3
Hand #5: 1 group of 3 and 1 sequence of 7
Hand #6: 2 groups of 3 and 1 sequence of 5
Hand #7: 3 sequences of 4
Hand #8: 1 group of 3 and 1 sequence of 10
Hand #9: 3 groups of 3 and 1 sequence of 5
Hand #10: 3 sequences of 5
What Is “Buying?”
A player can “buy” by retrieving a discard out of turn. However, he cannot play the card until it is his turn. In hands 1 through 8, each player is limited to 3 buys. In hands 9 and 10, the limit is raised to 4 buys.
Melding, Laying Off, And Winning
Each player can only meld the specific cards that completely fulfill that hand’s contract. Once that has been done, they are free to lay off on their own melds or those of other players. In Shanghai Rummy, Aces can only be played in groups or in a high sequence. In other words, they cannot be used for an A-2-3-4 sequence.
When a player goes out, each of his opponents is penalized with the points in their hands. Aces represent 20 points, Jokers are valued at 50 points, 8’s through K’s are 10 points each, and 2’s through 7’s are valued at 5 points each. At the end of 10 hands, the player with the lowest score wins the game.