Rummikub Rules – Conventional, New Rules & Printable PDF

Rummikub Rules

A game to make you think, count, and be patient – Rummikub can change family game nights and sleepover parties with friends. This combo of rummy and mahjong is played with 106 Tiles. 2-4 players can participate in it, starting with 14 Tiles. 

While playing Rummikub, players first aim to discard the Tiles in their rack. They must form Sets of at least three Tiles, matched by number sequence and colors. If a player doesn’t have the right Tile, they can draw a Tile – or play a Joker Tile. What’s interesting is that players can manipulate existing Sets. 

At the time of the inception of Rummikub, there were three versions – Sabra, American, and International. But the Sabra version’s rules have survived, though, interestingly, there are a few variations in the new Rummikub rules. Find out more.

Rummikub Tiles 

Rummikub is played with 106 Tiles. Of these, 104 have a number on the face, and two are Joker Tiles. The Tiles are numbered 1-13, and there are four colors. That means each color has 26 Tiles.

No. of Colors of Tiles4
No. of Tiles in Each Color26
No  of 1-13 Tile Sets in Each Color2
Total No. of 1-13 Title Sets in All Colors8
No. of Joker Tiles2

Rummikub Rules

Rummikub Tile Game Set

The element without which you can’t play Rummikub is a Tile Set. But what is a Set? 

A Set is a cluster of three or more Tiles of the same number in different colors – or a series of consecutive numbers in the same color. So there are two types of Tile Sets, a Group, and a Run. 

A Group is a Set of Tiles carrying the same number. However, all Tiles must be of different colors. You need three or four Tiles of the same number but different colors to make a Group.

Examples of Groups:


If you have less than three Tiles or a cluster of Tiles in the same color, you will not have a Group.

Examples of title clusters that do NOT form a Group:


Another type of Set is a Run. This cluster consists of a series of three or more consecutive numbers. The Tiles must all be of the same color.

Examples of a Run:


Examples of Tile clusters that do NOT form a Run:


You can also use the Joker Tile to complete a Set. It acts as a replacement for a Tile of any number or color. Thus, the following Sets are possible:


New Rummikub Game Rules and Instructions

Rummikub has been around for decades, and the rules have changed a little since 1978 when the Official Rummikub Book was published by the game’s inventor Ephraim Hertzano. 

However, the latest Rummikub rules, published in 2015, are as follows:

  1. Place the Tiles face down on the table. 
  1. Every player picks a Tile and turns it up. The person who has the Tile with the highest number is the first player of the game. 
  1. The Tiles are put back with the rest and jumbled up. Then, 14 Tiles are given to each player. They must arrange these Tiles on their racks (included in the game Set), so the opponents can’t see them. 
  1. The rest of the Tiles are kept on the table as the “Pool” for drawing Tiles. 
  1. To start the game, the first player must make an initial meld. That means the numbers on the Tiles must add up to 30 or more.   

Example of a Meld:


You can also put together two Sets to create an initial Meld, such as:


The sum of the Group is 3, while the sum of the Run is 27. Together, you have a Meld of 30. 

  1. The next players must also start their turn by forming an initial Meld. 
  1. If a player cannot play a Set, they must draw a Tile from the Pool and add it to their rack. They miss their chance to play their turn even if the new Tile helps form a Melt. 

If the Tiles on their rack can form a Set that does not add up to 30, they must draw a Tile from the Pool and miss their turn.

Example of a Set that cannot be played as an opening Meld:


A player can also play a Joker Tile in the initial Meld. 

  1. The play passes to the left and continues in a clockwise direction.
  1. Once a player has made their initial Meld, they can use the Tiles on their racks to add to a rack already played on the table. 

For instance, the table has the following Set:


If you have a 7 Tile, you can create the following Set – 


You can also manipulate existing Sets in other ways. You can also remove a Tile from an existing Set to create a new one of your own.

For instance, you have the following Tiles:


The Set on the table is:


You can break up the existing Set and use your own Tiles to form the following: 


And the Set left on the table will then be:


You can also split an existing Set from the middle to form new Sets.

For instance, the Set on the table is:


You can remove 8 and split it to form the following: 


Or, consider a Set on the table as:


You can split it, add your own Tile, and form the following:

  1. Any Tile you harvest from a Set on the table must be played on the table. You cannot add it to your rack to play later. 
  1. You can make any manipulation and must leave proper Sets on the table. If you break a Set leaving Tiles without forming a Group or a Run, you must draw those one or two Tiles. 
  1. If you want to use a Joker from an existing Set on the table, you must use the Joker immediately. You cannot add it to your rack to use later.
  1. If you don’t have a playable Tile, you must add one to your rack from the Pool and miss your chance to play. You cannot play a Tile in the same turn as drawing one.
  1. Players must complete each turn within 1 minute. Otherwise, they must draw a Tile from the Pile and miss their turn to play.
  1. The game continues until one player gets rid of all the Tiles on their rack and calls, “Rummikub!”
  1. At the end of the game, each losing player gets a negative score equal to the sum of the Tile values on their rack. The winner gets a positive score equal to the value of all the players’ Tiles on the rack. (Check Scoring section for details.)
  1. You can play as many games as decided before starting. And finally, the scores from all the games will be added. The player with the highest positive score will be declared the winner. 

Check out this video that explains Rummikub with an actual game.

Rummikub Rules: Jokers

There are two jokers in every Rummikub Tile game Set. These Tiles do not have a value of their own. It can be used as a filler to complete any Group or Run. 

  1. You cannot play a Joker in the initial Meld. 
  2. You can use a Joker to replace a Tile of any number or color in a Set. 
  3. If a Joker Tile is part of a Set on the table, you can retrieve it, i.e., replace it with the Tile of the color and number required in the Set. 
  4. You must use a retrieved Joker to form a new Set in the same turn, i.e., you cannot put the Tile on your rack. 
  5. If you have a Joker on your rack when the game ends, you get -30 for it. 

Here’s a video to give you a quick look at the Joker rules.

Rummikub Rule Variation

There is a variation to the standard Rummikub rules, including the concept of Draw 2 Tiles and River. 

When you do not have a playable Tile, you can draw two Tiles from the Pool. One Tile gets added to your rack, while the other Tile gets discarded to form the River. 

The River is a row of discarded Tiles. They are placed face up in the order of the discard. 

If you want a specific Tile from the River, you can pull it – along with all the Tiles before it. The Tile to the farthest left of the River is the Key, and you must play it in the same turn.

The remaining Tiles, i.e., the Plunder Tiles, must go to your rack. You cannot use them in the same turn. 

For instance, the River has the following Tiles – 


If you want the Yellow 10, you must draw the Red 1, Blue 4, and Blue 6 along with it. Yellow 10 is the Key – and you must immediately form a Set with it. The rest of the Tiles are added to the rack.

Rummikub Scoring 

The point of a Rummikub Tile is its face value. At the end of the game, the winner gets a score equal to the sum of the values of Tiles on all the players’ racks. 

Each losing player gets a negative score equal to the values of the Tiles on their rack added together. The value of a Joker Tile is 30.  

For instance, in a 3-person game, Player 1 wins. The Tiles on Player 2’s rack are 3, 5, and 6. So Player 2 gets -14. Player 3 has Tiles 1, 7, and Joker. Player 2 gets -38. Player 1 gets 52 points.

Unique Sets of Rummikub

If you want to add a vintage touch to your game night, you can opt for the Front Porch Classics Rummikub Set. This Set comes with wooden accessories for a sophisticated look. 

But what if you want a chic look? Then the Rummikub Onyx Edition Sophisticated Set with unique black Rummikub Tiles and vibrantly-colored engraved numbers by Pressman can be the perfect Set for you. 

Unique Sets of Rummikub

Final Words 

In the beginning, the game of Rummikub may seem a little slow. But once more Sets start to form on the table, you’ll enjoy strategizing, finding opportunities, and building new Sets from old ones.

As you continue to play, you’ll learn when to hold back a Tile – so that you can play a good Set later or prevent other players from going “Rummikub!”

So don’t forget to download our Rummikub rules PDF to keep the instructions handy while playing!

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