Loba (She-wolf) refers to various Rummy games played in Latin America. In Central America Loba is a form of Contract Rummy known in Argentina as Carioca. In Argentina there are two games in the Loba family:
- Loba de Mas (positive Loba): In this game, covered on this page, points are scored for combinations laid down and lost for points remaining in a player's hand at the end of play. The object is to score as many points as possible.
- Loba de Menos (negative Loba): In this game, covered here, points are scored for cards remaining in the player's hand when the play ends. The object is to score as few points as possible.
Players: 2 to 5 players.
Cards: Two standard 52 card decks, plus all 4 jokers, for 108 cards total.
The Deal: Any player can deal first, and the turn to deal passes clockwise. 11 cards are dealt to each player. The remainder are stacked face down to form a stock pile.
Objective: As in Loba de Menos the objective is to lay down Piernas (similar to Sets) and Escaleras (Runs), however in this game you score points for the cards you lay down so you want to try and maximize your melds rather than minimize your deadwood and go out as quickly as you can.
The rules governing Legal melds in Loba de Mas are much the same as in Loba de Menos , except for the use of jokers and wild cards. In Loba de Mas the jokers are wild, and the twos can be used either as natural twos or as wild cards.
Piernas consist of from 3 to 6 cards of the same rank in three different suits. They cannot include jokers or wild twos, but it is possible to use the twos in their natural state and make a Pierna consisting entirely of twos of three suits.
Escaleras are sequences of from 3 to 13 cards in suit. They can contain any number of wild cards but cannot consist entirely of jokers. An escalera consisting of twos and jokers is OK, because one of the twos can be treated as natural, and the remaining wild cards form a sequence in that suit. Aces can be used as high (Q-K-A) or low (A-2-3) but not both. (Going "around the corner" is not allowed.
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 either draws the top card of the face down stock pile, or takes the whole discard pile. In this game, the cards of the discard pile (which is known as the "pozo") are overlapped so that all their values are visible, as in Rummy 500 / 500 Rum.
Note that when taking the pozo, there is no requirement to put down or add to any combinations. You can simply take the pozo and discard a card. However, if the pozo consists of only one card, you cannot just take this card and discard it again. It would, however, be legal to take this card and discard the other card of the same suit and rank if you happened to hold it.
Meld (optional): The player can then meld piernas and/or escaleras from their hand to the table in front of them.
Lay off (optional): Cards can also be added to the player's existing piernas and/or escaleras, as long as the new combinations are still valid.
In Loba de Mas, cards cannot be added to other players' combinations, only to the player's own. As in Loba de Menos, when adding to an escalera, a wild card can be moved from one end to the other, but a wild card that is not at the end of an escalera cannot be moved.
Discard: Finally the player discards one card, face up, to the pozo. The card should be situated such that all the previous cards on the pozo are partially visible.
End of Hand
Play continues until a player ends the round by putting down all his or her cards in valid combinations, or by putting down all but one card and discarding the last card. This is called "going out".
If the stock pile is depleted then the round ends when the player who took the last stock card discards a card and ends their turn. In this case no player receives the going out bonus.
When a player goes out then all players add up the points of the melds they have made, and subtract the points of the cards they still have in their hands, according to the following scoring table. Note that it is possible to end up with a negative score. Cards have the following point values:
|Card||Positive value in melds on table||Negative value in hand|
|Ace||3 points in Q-K-A or A-A-A;
1 point in A-2-3
|3 points each|
|K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8||2 points each||2 points each|
|7, 6, 5, 4, 3||1 point each||1 point each|
|Joker, 2||3 points used as A(high),
K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8;
1 point used for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A(low)
|3 points each|
Examples of positive scores for combinations:
- A-K-Q = 7 points
- A-2-Q = 8 points (using the 2 as a K)
- A-2-2 = 9 points
- 2-2-2 = 3 points
- 2-2-2-2-2-2-2 = 9 points (this is best scored as an escalera 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 so that the last 2 is worth 3 points)
- A-2-2-J = 11 points
- A-2-2-4 = 4 points
- K-Q-2 = 7 points
- K-2-2 = 8 points
The player who goes out, getting rid of all his cards, scores all the combinations he has on the table plus a bonus of 5 points. If the stock runs out and no one has gone out, no one gets this 5-point bonus. The players who did not go out score for the combinations they have on the table minus the cards in their hands (which may result in a negative score). Each player's score for the hand is added to their cumulative score.
A player who goes out by putting down all his cards (or all but one, plus a discard) at the same time, without having previously put down any combinations, scores a larger bonus of 5 points per player in the game - for example 15 points in a 3-player game or 20 points in a 4-player game. THis is the same as "going Rummy" or "ginning" in other games.
The game ends when one or more players have scored at least 150 points.