This page is based on information from John Schweigel.
The Canadian two-player rummy game is said to have originated in Montreal. From there it was brought to Toronto in the 1990's, and has since become increasingly popular. It is nearly always played for stakes.
There are two players. Two identical standard 52-card decks (no jokers) are shuffled together to make a 104-card deck. The card values are as follows:
|Queen of Spades||100 points|
|Jack of Diamonds||50 points|
|Twos||20 points each|
|Aces||15 points each|
|Other face cards and tens||10 points each|
|All other cards (2 to 9)||5 points each|
The aim of the game is, by drawing and discarding, to get rid of all your cards by forming them into sets of three or more cards of equal rank. There is a bonus for collecting all eight cards of one rank.
Twos are wild and can be used to represent any card.
The first dealer is determined at random and thereafter the turn to deal alternates.
The dealer shuffles, the dealer's opponent cuts, and the dealer deals 15 cards to each player, one card at a time. The next card is placed face up on the table to start the discard pile, and the remaining 73 undealt cards are stacked face down beside it to form a draw pile.
Sequence of play.
The non-dealer plays first. Thereafter the turn to play alternates.
A normal turn consists of:
- Either drawing the top card of the face down stock pile or taking the whole of the face up discard pile.
- Optionally laying down (melding) one or more sets of equal cards, or adding to his own previously laid down sets.
- Discarding one card from hand face up on top of the discard pile.
Discarding ends the player's turn. It is then the opponent's turn to play.
Laying down sets and taking the discard pile
After drawing and before discarding, a player can lay down any valid sets in his hand.
A valid set consists of at least three cards of the same rank - for example K-K-K or 7-7-7 ot 9-9-9-9-9.
>Twos can be used as wild cards, to represent any other card. For example 8-8-2, Q-2-2, 6-6-6-2-2 are also valid sets. However there is a bonus for laying down a set of all eight cards of one rank without wild twos, and for going out without having laid down any wild twos. Therefore there is an incentive, where possible, to use twos only as
Sets that have been laid down can be added to by the player who put them down but not rearranged. For example wild cards cannot be moved from one set to another. A player can never add cards to his opponent's sets.
The discard pile can only be taken if the player lays down two cards from hand to form a set along with the top card of the discard pile. Twos cannot be used as wild cards in a set used to pick up the pile: if the top card of the pile is a two, it can only be taken using a pair of twos from hand. After laying down the top card of the pile together with the two matching cards from hand, the player must take the rest of the discard pile into hand, and may use these cards to lay down further sets or add to his existing sets.
Note that it is not possible just to take the top card from the discard pile: a player who takes the top card must always take the whole pile.
On the first turn only, if the face up card is a two, the non-dealer simply may take the two into hand instead of drawing from the stock, without laying down a set of twos. His turn then continues as normal - possibly laying down sets and ending with a discard.
Except when picking up the discard pile, a player is never obliged to lay down a valid set from hand. Also a player need not lay down the whole of a set that is held - three cards are sufficient. For example holding 10-10-10-10-10 it is often better to lay down just three of them, 10-10-10, keeping a pair of 10's in hand so as to be able to take the pile if the opponent discards a 10. If this happens, the two resulting sets of 10's are automatically amalgamated into a single set of six 10's.
Note that despite their high values, the Q and J have no special powers. They can be drawn discarded and used in sets in the usual way along with other Queens and Jacks.
End of the play
Play continues until one player goes out by getting rid of all the cards from his hand. On this last turn the player going out can either lay down all his cards but one as sets, discarding his last card, or lay down all his cards leaving himself with no discard.
In the rare case where the stock pile is exhausted, a new stock pile is created by shuffling all the cards in the discard pile except for its top card, which remains in place, and play continues.
When a player goes out, the scores are calculated as follows. The player who went out scores the total value of the cards he has placed on the table in sets. The other player also scores for his own sets on the table, but from this must subtracted the the value of all cards remaining in his hand.
A cumulative score is kept for each player, and the game continues for as many deals as necessary until one or both players has a score of 1200 points or more. The player who then has the higher score is then the winner.
If the player who did not go out has a greater value of cards in hand than on the table, his score for that deal will be negative. This is called a "Chapeau" (hat), and in Toronto is also commonly known as a "shampoo". To mark this event the player's score is circled.
A "Natural" is a set of all eight cards of one rank - for example 10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10. If the cards laid down by a player include a natural, two bonuses are applied. First, the score for cards in the set is doubled (e.g. 8 tens score 160 rather than 80), and second, the player who put down the natural has an asterisk marked against his score. A natural set cannot include twos used as wild cards, but a set consisting just of eight twos does count as a natural, scoring 320.
A second type of natural is scored if a player goes out without using any twos as wild cards. This type of natural can include a set consisting entirely of twos, for example 2-2-2, but no set that uses twos to stand for other cards. In this case all the player's card values are doubled, and the player gets an asterisk.
If the player who goes out has not used any wild twos and his sets include an 8-card set, then he has two naturals. He is awarded two asterisks, the cards in the set of 8 will count 4 times their basic value, and his other cards twice their basic value.
Before the game, the players should agree on the stakes, which are expressed as two amounts, one three times the other - for example $1-$3 or $2-$6 or $3-$9.
The larger is the payment amount is the payment for winning the game, and for each natural achieved by the winner and for each chapeau suffered by the loser. The loser's naturals and the winner's chapeaux do not affect payment.
The smaller amount is an extra amount that the winner is paid per 100 points difference in score. For this purpose each player's score is rounded to the nearest 100 points, a score ending in 50 being rounded up, and the extra payment is based on the difference.
If the loser's score (before rounding) is less than 600 but not negative (i.e. from 0 to 599 points), this is a skunk, and all payments to the winner are doubled. If the loser's final score (before rounding) is negative, all payments are tripled.
Examples of payments for a $1-$3 game:
- The winner has 1252 points with two naturals and one chapeau; the loser has 649 points with one natural and one chapeau. The scores are rounded to 1300 and 600 and the loser pays the winner $19 - that is $3 for the game, $7 for the score difference, $6 for the winner's two naturals and $3 for the loser's chapeau. The winner's chapeau and the loser's natural are not paid for.
- If the loser in the above example had scored 650 points, this would be rounded up to 700 and the payment for the score difference would be only $6 rather than $7.
- If the loser in the above game had scored 590 points, this would be rounded to 600. The payment for score difference would be $7 as in the first example above, but this is now a skunk, so the $19 total is doubled to $38.
- If the winner has 1236 points and the loser has 1169, both scores are rounded to 1200 and the payment for the game is just $3, with no payment for score difference. The winner just gets paid $3 for game plus any payment for his naturals and the losers' chapeaux.
Some play that a natural is needed in order to win the game. That is, the game only ends when a player has 1200 or more points and has scored at least one natural. In this version you could have (for example) 2000 points with no natural and lose the game to a player who scored 1200 with a natural.
It is of course possible to agree different targets - for example a game can be played to 2000 points. The loser has to achieve at least half the target score to avoid a skunk.
Mohamad Nazari describes a variation called Progressive Montreal Mille, in which the scores for Naturals and Chapeaux increase if you have them more than once. The second Natural is worth twice as much as the first, the third three times, and so on. The same system applies to the loser's Chapeaux. So for example in a game of $1-$3 of Progressive Montreal Mile with a target of 2000 and a final score of 2100 to 860, with 5 Naturals for winner, and 3 Chapeaux for loser, the final payment would be $66, made up of $12 for the point difference, $3 for the game, $3 for the skunk, $30 for the naturals ($3+$6+$9+$12) and $18 for the Chapeaux ($3+$6+$9).