Crummy rummy is the official card game of my family. In the absence of any actual crummy rummy governing body with precedence -- probably since the game does not really seem to exist outside the family -- I have gone out on a limb to call this document the "official rules" of the game. These rules have been certified and endorsed by the Crummy Rummy Elders' Education and Preservation Society (CREEPS), more commonly known as my parents.


Crummy rummy is a variant of contract rummy for two or more players. There are seven rounds of play. For each round, there is a fixed configuration of cards that each player must try to obtain. The round ends when some player has no cards left, and points are assigned to players that have cards remaining. The objective of the game is to have the least amount of total points after all seven rounds.


The origin of the name crummy rummy is uncertain. But one thing is certain, it has nothing to do with Donald Rumsfeld. Crummy rummy affectionados unanimously find nothing "crummy" about the game, so rhyming value is assumed to be the primary factor in the name.

Required Equipment

One deck (including jokers) is needed for every two players, rounded up. Deuces and jokers are wild; aces are always high.

One player must be designated the scorekeeper. A pencil and paper are required.

Runs & Sets

A run is a sequence of 4 or more consecutive cards from the same suit (example: 9-10-J-Q of diamonds). The exception to this rule is in round 5, where a run of seven cards is required.

A set is 3 or more cards of the same rank (example: three 5's from any suits). Since the game may be played with multiple decks of cards, the cards of a set do not need to belong to different suits (example: 3 of spades, 3 of spades, 3 of hearts).

As expected, a wildcard may take the place of any card in a run or a set. However, wildcards may not account for more than half of the cards in a single run or set. This means that having three wildcards does not constitute a legal set.

The Contracts

In each round, the players are dealt a different number of cards, and try to fill a different contract:

Round 17 cards2 sets
Round 28 cards1 run + 1 set
Round 39 cards2 runs
Round 410 cards3 sets
Round 511 cards1 run of seven + 1 set
Round 612 cards2 runs + 1 set
Round 713 cards3 runs (all cards!)

When the contract requires a player to have more than one run (rounds 3, 6 & 7), each run must be of a different suit. For instance, you may not count both 3-4-5-6 of clubs and 10-J-Q-K of clubs towards your contract.

Likewise, when the contract requires more than one set (rounds 1 & 4), each set must be of a different rank. For instance, you may not count six aces as two separate sets towards your contract.

The last round has slightly different gameplay than the other rounds -- see below.


To begin each round, the dealer deals out the appropriate number of cards. The deck is placed face down on the table. The top card of the deck is placed face-up to start the discard pile. If this card is a wildcard, it is placed back into the deck randomly and the next card in the deck is used instead.

The players each take turns in clockwise order, starting with the player following the dealer. Each turn has the following structure:

  1. The player chooses whether to take the top card from the discard pile (which is face-up), or the top card from the deck (which is face-down). If the player chooses the card from the deck, another player may take the face-up card out of turn while the active player is considering his/her move (see below on taking out of turn).

  2. The player optionally plays cards to the table (see below on playing to the table).

  3. The player discards (face-up) onto the discard pile, unless he/she has no cards left.
If the face-down deck is exhausted, then the discard pile is shuffled and reused as the new face-down deck.

The round ends when a player has no more cards left after his/her turn (i.e, after possibly discarding his/her final card). At this time, the other players score their remaining cards (see below on scoring). The person to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer, and the next round begins.

After the final round, the player with the least total points overall is declared the winner.

Taking Out Of Turn

If the active player does not take the face-up card on his/her turn, other players are allowed to take it out of turn. But as a penalty, the out-of-turn player must also pick up the top card of the deck (after the active player has taken his/her card). The out-of-turn player must not discard or play cards to the table at this time, as it is not his/her turn. Thus, the player who takes out of turn is left with two more cards in his/her hand.

Only one player is allowed to take out of turn during each turn (and once a card in the discard pile is no longer the top card, it is permanently "dead" -- it cannot be taken out of turn if it becomes visible again). If several out-of-turn players all want the face-up card, the one closest in line after the active player takes it.

After the card (and penalty card) is taken out of turn, the active player continues his/her turn as usual, by optionally laying down and then discarding.

Laying Down & Playing Cards To The Table

A player may not play any cards to the table until he/she has met the entire contract for that round. At that point, he/she lays down the cards that fill the contract on the table (face up).

After a player has already layed down the round's contract (possibly earlier during the same turn), then during his/her turns, he/she may play any additional cards from his/her hand to the table which extend any other runs and sets on the table (including those of other players), just as in other forms of rummy. If the card played replaces a wildcard, the wildcard may be transferred to another run or set on the table, if desired.

However, a player may not lay down a completely new run or set apart from the initial contract. All cards played to the table must extend existing runs and sets from some player's contract. So it is possible that you may have layed down, but are still stuck with (for example) three aces in your hand that you cannot play!

In playing cards to the table, the limitation on wildcards must always hold -- that is, no run or set can have more than half wildcards. In theory, it is possible to have laid down the contract, and be left with nothing but wildcards that cannot be legally played to the table.

The Final Round

In the 7th round, the player's contract of three runs must use all of his/her cards, including the card just picked up at the beginning of the turn. In other words, there is no discard step in the final player's turn. Thus, the first player to lay down his/her contract in this round is the winner of the round, and there is no additional playing to the table. The other players are always stuck with at least thirteen cards to score.


After each round is over, the losing players score are assigned points for each remaining card in their hand, as follows:

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 85 points each
9, 10, J, Q, K10 points each
A, 2, Joker15 points each


Crummy rummy is a complicated game. It is common for a beginner to forget that deuces are wild and discard a deuce. It is also common for a beginner who has not laid down his/her contract yet to discard a card that may be played to the table by the next player (although sometimes this is unavoidable). In these circumstances, it is good etiquette to inform the beginner of the mistake and let him/her change the choice of discard.

Rules Variants

When playing cards to the table, if the card replaces a wildcard in an existing run or set, it may be moved to another run or set. However, some variants demand that only jokers may be moved in this way, while deuces must remain in the same run/set.

Some variants allow for aces to be played low in a run, so that A-2-3-4 is a run (where the A, 3, and 4 have the same suit, but the 2, being wild, may be of any suit).

In this document, I have intentionally given a rule for taking cards out of turn that is simpler than how I was taught. In the "original" variant, taking a card out of turn must happen before the active player picks up his/her card. This can lead to a problem if the active player picks up a card from the deck too soon to allow other players the opportunity to take out of turn. It necessitates the active player to ask the others "Do you want this?" before bypassing the face-up card for the face-down card. The only difference in the variant presented here is that the out-of-turn player's penalty card and the active player's card are exchanged in order. But since both of these cards start face-down, it is an insignificant difference.