Kids Rummy is almost identical to Standard Rummy with minimal variants applied, and with only matching of Sets. By eliminating Runs the game becomes a simple step up from games like Go Fish, and is easy for even very young children to understand, enjoy and even to win when playing with adults, giving them a great boost in self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. As most parents know, helping kids achieve these kinds of things is an important part of their development.
Players: 2 to 6 players, although probably best with 4 or less.
Cards: One standard deck of 52 cards. Using the Jokers is optional. An additional deck can be added for groups larger than 5 players, but this may increase the complexity too much for younger kids.
The Deal: For games with only 2 players, 10 cards are dealt to each. For more than 2 players deal 7 cards to each player. After the deal the remaining cards are placed in the center of the table where all players can reach it. This is the "stock pile". The top card of the stock pile is turned over and placed next to the stock pile, this is the start of the "discard pile".
Objective: The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards by grouping them into sets of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank (in other words, their face value matches).
The only types of melds used in Kids Rummy is the "set". A "set", sometimes called a "book", is a group of 3 or 4 cards, all with the same rank but with different suits. If the game is using more than one deck then a set can not have more than one card with the same suit. For example, these are valid sets:
But these are not:
9-9-9-9 9-9-6-9 9-9
A single card can only be used only once as part of one set, and cannot be reused in different melds at the same time.
Play commences with the player to the left of the dealer taking a turn and continues clockwise until the hand ends.
Players do the following actions when it is their turn:
- Draw: The player begins by drawing one card either from the stock pile or the face-up discard pile. This card is added to the player's hand.
- Meld (optional): If the player has cards in their hand that can be formed into sets then they may place the cards face up on the table in front of them. The player is not required to do so but may instead decide to hold onto their melds until later turns for strategic reasons.
- Lay off (optional): After a player has formed one or more sets of their own then they can also add cards to existing melds already on the table, whether it is their own meld or that formed by another player.
- Discard: The player ends their turn by discarding a card they do not want (or want less than the other cards in their hand) face-up onto the discard pile. Note that in Kids Rummy it is not required to discard a card when they are going out. In other words, if the last 3 cards in a player's had forms a set then they can meld those 3 cards and the round will be over.
If the Jokers are being used in the game then they can be used in place of any other card when forming sets. For example, if a player has a Joker in their hand and also a 7 and 7 then they can lay down a meld with the cards 7-7-Joker.
If a player who has already formed at least one meld of their own has in their hand the natural card that a Joker on the table is representing, then during their turn he or she can swap the natural card for the Joker, and take the Joker into their hand for later use. For example, if there is a meld on the table with the cards 7-7-Joker and the player has the 7 then he or she can lay the 7 down on the existing meld and take the Joker into their hand, and either use it immediately or hold on to it for future turns.
If the stock pile runs out of cards and the current player does not want to take the top card of the discard pile, then all the cards on the discard pile except the top card can be taken, shuffled, and laid face down to become a new stock pile. The current player can then take the top card from the stock pile and continue their turn.
End of Round
The round is over when a player is able to get rid of all their cards though melding, laying off, and discarding. This is called "going out". As soon as a player is able to go out then the round is over and the other players are not able to take any additional turns.
When playing single-round games, which are the easiest for very young kids to understand, then the player who goes out is the winner.
For multi-round games the player who goes out scores zero points, and the players who did not go out add up the points of the cards they still have in their hands. Cards have the following point values:
|10, J, Q, K||10 points|
Those points are added to a running cumulative score being tracked for each player. Additional rounds are played until one player exceeds a pre-determined target score. The target score is typically 100 points for 2 player games, or 300 points for games with more than 2 players, but any target score is fine as long as the players agree to it.
Once the target score is reached by one or more players at the end of a round, then the player with the lowest score is the winner of the game.
- Optional Elimination Mode
- One of the variations of Standard Rummy that goes well with Kids Rummy is the elimination mode of game play. Or for kids, perhaps we could call it the dodge ball mode. The way it works is that when one player exceeds the target score they are knocked out of the game, and the next round continues without them. The rounds continue until there is only one player left under the target score, who is then declared the winner.