Joker Rum

Contributed by Kishor N. Gordhandas.


Number of Players

Four Play, each for himself. There is no partnership. (There are 2- and 3-handed versions.)


Two packs are required from which 38 cards are discarded, leaving the following 68 cards for play including two Jokers:

  1. All Four Kings, Queens, Jacks, Deuces, Threes and Fours from one pack only --Total 4 x 6 = 24 cards.
  2. All Four Aces, Nines, Eights, Sevens, and Sixes from both packs -- Total 8 x 5 = 40 cards.
  3. One Five of Hearts and one Ten of Spades -- Total 1 + 1 = 2 cards
  4. Two Jokers -- = Total 2 cards

Grand Total: 24 + 40 + 2 + 2 = 68 cards

The Five of Hearts and Ten of Spades are sometimes called Super Jokers; the two actual Jokers are known as the Original Jokers.

Object of the game

Each player tries to reduce the point value of his hand to less than that of the other players by arranging his cards into Matched Sets as described below.


Scores are noted at the end of each deal and should be entered on a paper for the complete game.

Seats and the order to play

Determine seats and right of the first deal by any agreed means. Order of play is always clockwise. The turn to deal passes regularly to the left after each hand.


A game consists of eight deals and lasts about 80 minutes. Alternativeely, the game may be played until any player first is able to score + 50 Points, or until any player first reaches a total of - 50 (minus fifty). The player with the highest point score at the end of the play is the winner.

Shuffle and Deal

Traditional rules apply, dealer having right to shuffle last. Between deals, a perfunctory shuffle is sufficient.


Cards are dealt, one by one, starting from dealer's left. 12 cards are dealt to each player. The remaining 20 cards are stacked face down in the middle of the table. After the cards have been correctly dealt, each player looks at his hand. The player to the left of the dealer is first to play and he should the discard any one card which he thinks he does not want at that time, putting it face down next to the heap of 20 face down cards lying on the middle of the table. Next he takes the top card from the 20-card face down heap. Both the cards, the discarded one from the hand first, and the one taken from the heap thus remain unknown to the other players.

Note that in this initial stage of the game the procedure (unlike that in traditioinal Rummy) is to discard a card face down first and then to draw one from the top of the face down heap.

This procedure is continued from player to player, clockwise till the last card of the 20-cards face down heap has been taken up. (Naturally, there being 20 cards, the last person to discard the card and to take the last card of the 20-cards heap will be the dealer himself or the player to the right of the first player). After this, the 20 discarded face down cards in the first round of play are used as a new drawing pile for the second round of play.

The player to dealer's left continues with the same procedure, discarding to a new face down pile. Play continues until the second stock pile is exhaustedanother 20-cards face down heap is formed of the discarded cards from the various players' hands in a clockwise direction as before. When only one card remains in the draw pile, the dealer discards a card face up to start a new discard pile before taking this last card. After this turn there should be 19 cards stacked face down, as a new drawing stock, and one face up card beside them.

Now the third and final round begins, using a different procedure, similar to that in normal Rummy. Beginning with the naxt player in turn (the player to dealer's left) and continuing clockwise, each player in turn first takes either the top card of the face up discard pile or the top card of the face down stock pile, and then discards a card from his hand face up on top of the discard pile. This continues until the last face down card is taken up by a player and a stock of 20 face up or turn-up cards is made. This is the last turn of the game, and no more drawing from the face up discard pile is now allowed.

Closing the Game

At the end of any turn - that is, after drawing a card during the first two rounds, or after discarding in the third round - a player whose 12 cards consist of three separate four-card matched sets can close the game. This is done by calling "game". Play of that hand ends immediately and the players' scores for their cards are calculated.

If at the end of the third round of play, no one has closed the game, the scores are calculated, and neither side receives the bonus for closing the game.

Matched Sets

During the play, each player tries to arrange his cards into matched sets. There are six possible types of matched set:

  1. Ace, King, Queen and Jack of one suit. A Joker can be substituted for the King, Queen or Jack. A Joker cannot be used to represent the Ace, and not more than one Joker can be used in such a set.
  2. Ace, Deuce, Three and Four of one suit. A Joker can be substituted for the Deuce, Three or Four. A Joker cannot be used to represent the Ace, and not more than one Joker can be used in such a set.
  3. Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine of one suit. (No Jokers can be used.)
  4. The Five of Hearts, with the Six, Seven and Eight of any one suit (not necessarily Hearts). (No Original Jokers can be used.)
  5. The Ten of Spades, with the Seven, Eight and Nine of any one suit (not necessarily Spades). (No Original Jokers can be used.)
  6. Four Sixes, four Sevens, four Eights, or four Nines. The cards must be of four different suits. (No Jokers can be used.)

Important Notes on the use of Jokers.

  1. The two Original Jokers in one hand are not allowed to be used together in any one matched set. For example Ace, Joker, Joker and 4 is not a valid set.
  2. The Original Jokers are not be allowed in the places of Super Jokers that are 5 of Hearts and 10 of Spades. [In fact the Original Jokers can only be used to represent a 2, 3, 4, J, Q or K. They cannot be used to represent an Ace, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10.]
  3. It is emphasised that no Original Jokers should be used to make a set of Four Sixes, Four Sevens, Four Eights or Four Nines.


When the play ends, the players arrange their 12 cards into Matched Sets and unmatched cards. [Note that no card can be counted as belonging to more than one matched set at the same time.] The scores for the matched sets are as follows:

A set of four 6's, 7's, 8's or 9's, all of different suits4 Points
6-7-8-9 of one suit4 points
Ace-2-3-4 or A-K-Q-J of one suit: all real cards with no Joker6 Points
Set including an Original Joker (A-2-3-4 or A-K-Q-J with a Joker replacing one card other than an Ace)7 points
Set including Super Joker: 5-6-7-8 or 7-8-9-109 Points

Points are deducted for any cards in a player's hand that are not part of a matched set, as follows:

Each Ace, Six, Seven, Eight, NineDeduct 1 point
Each Two, Three, Four, King, Queen, JackDeduct 3 points
Each Original JokerDeduct 5 points
Each Super Joker (5 or 10)Deduct 7 points

If a player closed the game, that player scores a bonus depending on whether the turn after which the game was closed occurred in the first, second or third round:

Game closed in first round10 Point bonus
Game closed in second round6 Point bonus
Game closed in third round10 Point bonus

If a player can form three matched sets with the 12 cards originally dealt to him, he is allowed to close the game immediately without taking a turn. In this case the player scores a bonus of 15 points for closing the game.

If the same player closes two successive games, he scores an additional bonus of 20 points.

The maximum a single player can score in any game is 60 points. Example: a set of 5-6-7-8 (9 points), a set of 7-8-9-10 (9 points), a set of A-2-3-Joker (7 points) dealt as the original 12 cards and closed (15 points), second consecutive win (20 points).

The lowest possible score in theory is minus 48 Points (for example a hand of 5, 10, Joker, Joker, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9).

Some Points to note

  1. When Jokers are there in any hand, make use of them properly, as they can complete a series, for additional score. A Joker in hand, unutilized, reduces the score of that player. If any joker, or a Super Joker cannot be used until the end of the game, that player should take chances at the very end of the game to discard the same.
  2. If a player has a few nines, and some sevens, a couple of 8's, he may on trying be able to make a set of four different 9's, as well as a series of 6, 7, 8, and 9.
  3. If a player has a series of 6, 7, 6 and 9, and he is lucky to get a Super Joker, 5 of Hearts, or 10 of Spades, he can either discard a 9 or 6 as the case may be, as the set with the Joker is worth more points. Proper arranging of the cards in the hand every now and then is useful to help the player to see possibilities.

Copyright © Kishor N. Gordhandas, 2004

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Last updated: 4th February 2004