Kalooki - Europe

Kalooki (also known as Kaluki, Kalookie, or Caloochi) is a popular game, often played with wild cards. There are many variants of Kalooki and the rules may differ depending on where the game is played or which version of Kalooki is being played. The most popular versions originated in Europe and North America but it is worth mentioning that there are also Jamaican and South African versions of the game, however they are different enough to be considered in a different category of Rummy games. Kalookie is usually played for money, but chips, simple points or some other scoring method works fine too.

The rules and general order of play is the same as for Standard Rummy, with a number of minor exceptions. This page covers the European version, there is also a page for the North American version. Please note that the North American version of Kalooki appears to be gaining popularity in Europe, and is what John Scarne witnessed being played in the Victoria Sporting Club in London.


Players: Two to five players.

Cards: Two standard 52 card decks are used in this game, plus 2 jokers, for a total of of 106 cards. Cards rank from duce to ace, meaning the ace is always high.

The Deal: The deal and order of play are decided by a draw of the cards. An Ace, two, three, four and five are shuffled together and each player draws one card. The player holding the Ace gets the first deal, and the choice of seat. The remaining players take seats clockwise in order from the dealer – the holder of the two to the dealer’s left, the three to his left, etc. The deal likewise moves around the table clockwise with each hand.

The dealer shuffles the cards and offers them to the player to his right for the cut. After the cut, he deals the cards one at a time around the table clockwise until each player has 13 cards.

Objective: The object of a hand of Kalooki is to be the first player to play all of the cards in your hand by melding them or "calling up". All the other players score penalty points based on the cards values left in the hand at the end of play. Anyone accumulating more than 150 penalty points over a series of hands is eliminated from the game. The last surviving player wins the game and takes the money from the pool.

The Stake: Before the game the players should decide on the the following stakes:

Type Paid To Whom Suggested
Call Up Amount paid to the winner of each hand by the other players 1 unit
Kalooki Amount paid to a winner who wins by placing all 13 cards down at once 2 units
Initial Stake Amount paid to the pool by all players at the start of the game 5 units
Buy In Stake Amount paid to the pool to re-enter the game by a player who exceeds target score 5 units

The units in the above table are a proposed ratio. For example, using the "Suggested" units proposed in the table above, if a call up pays 1 unit for example, 10 cents, then a kalooki pays 20 cents and the initial stake and buy in stake will be 50 cents each.

Game Play

The player to the left of the dealer plays first, with turns moving around the table clockwise from there. Each turn consists of four parts:

  1. Draw: The first player may draw from either the stock or the discard pile without having to lay down a meld. After the first play, players may only draw from the stock until they have made an initial meld totaling at least 40 points.
  2. Meld (optional): Cards may be discarded by placing combinations of three or more cards from your hand face up on the table before you. Alternatively, you may keep melds in your hand. You may only lay down one meld during a turn. There are two kinds of combinations: Runs and Sets. Note that since Aces are always high in European Kalooki then runs such as Q-K-A are legal melds, but A-2-3 or K-A-2 are not valid melds.
  3. Lay off (optional): After you have laid down your initial meld, you can in the same turn or in later turns add cards from your hand to melds already on the table - your own or other melds formed by another player, with the object of forming a larger valid meld. In succeeding turns, you do not have to meld in order to build. In Kalooki, this is known as "building" and only happens in a turn and not at the end of a hand.
  4. Discard: Unless you melded all the cards in your hand, you must place a card from your hand face up on top of the discard pile to complete your turn. Once the player has discarded, his turn is over and he may not play any cards until it is his turn again.


All Jokers are wild cards that can stand for any card in a meld and even a duplicate of a card already in another meld. If you use a joker at one end of a run, you must declare what card the joker represents as this cannot be later changed by any player. Also if you put down two jokers melded with a natural card, then you must make it clear whether it is a set or a run and if it is a run you must say what the two cards represent. However, you do not need to specify the suit represented by a joker used in a set.

You can, in some circumstances, re-use a joker previously melded by yourself or by another player. This can only be done by a player who has laid down the initial meld that met the 40 point requirement and the released joker must immediately be used in a new meld or built upon an existing meld - it can never be kept in the hand of a player to save it for later.

  1. If a set of three cards contains a joker, the joker can be released in exchange for equal ranking cards of both missing suits from the player's hand. For example, if 10-10-Joker has been melded, a player who has a 10 and a 10 can add both of these cards to the set, taking the joker in exchange and using it elsewhere. If you just add one of these 10's onto the set, you form a closed four-card set of 10-10-10-joker, from which the joker can never be taken. To a three-card set with two jokers you could add any two of the three missing suits, releasing one of the jokers and forming a closed four-card set.
  2. If a run contains a joker, a player who holds the card that the joker represents can place it on the run, in substitution for the joker, and reuse the joker elsewhere. Remember, the joker cannot be taken into the hand but must be used in the same turn.

End of Hand

The play ends when one player melds all their cards, discards their last card and thereby goes out. Note that even when calling up you must end your turn with a discard - it is not legal to draw, meld all your cards and discard nothing. Once any player calls up or goes out, there is no opportunity to lay off cards or lay down melds. Play ends immediately and all players are stuck with the points that are in their hands. Those points are totaled and added to the players' cumulative scores.

Winning by melding all 13 cards on the same turn is known as "Kalooki" and earns a larger point bonus than calling up. If, after discarding to end your turn, you are left with 1, 2 or 3 cards then you must warn the other players how many cards you have left in your hand, otherwise you will be barred from going out on your next turn.

Stock Pile Exhausted

If the stock pile runs out of cards, the discard pile is shuffled and put on the table face down to form a new stock. The card discarded by the player who drew the last card of the old stock is placed face up beside the new stock to start the new discard pile. However, if the stock pile runs out a second time, there is no second reshuffle and the game is declared void. When this happens there is no score or payment and the same dealer shuffles and deals a new hand.


When a player goes out then all the remaining players add up the points of the cards they still have in their hands whether or not they could have been melded. Once one player goes out the other players are stuck with whatever they are still holding.

Cards have the following point values:

Card Value
Jokers 15
Ace 11
Face cards 10
Others Face value

Player payments: At the start of the game, each player will make a payment or stake to the pool. The winner of a hand, is paid this stake for a call up or a Kalooki as per each of the other players in the hand. Players who have been eliminated (see below) from the game will not pay.

Penalty points: The total point value of the cards held in the hands of each of the other players are penalty points. These determine who is eliminated from the game and who will eventually win the prize pool. A cumulative total of penalty points is kept on a regular score sheet.

If a player reaches 150 points, he/she is eliminated from the game, unless he chooses to buy in by paying the buy-in amount that was agreed upon at the start of the game. If he buys back in, the score is reduced to the score of the highest scoring player who is still below 150 points. Buying in is subject to two rules:

  1. A player can buy in only twice during a game.
  2. Buying in can only be done if there are at least two players under 150 points.

Players settle up on the call up and Kalooki at the end of each hand. The pool goes to the last player remaining in the game. All scores can be managed on the score sheet and payments settled at the end.

Optional Rules and Variations

  1. North American Kalooki

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