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River Rat Rummy

Contributed by Greta Figel (dfigel@msn.com) [with a few notes by John McLeod]

Three decks of cards --- Use all the jokers. [Probably two jokers per deck, since this is an American game - 162 cards in all].

Ante $1.10 per player to start

Play with only nickels, dimes, or quarters, no pennies.

How to Play

Using the score sheet is very important because it is designed for this game. First hand is dealt 3 cards to each player. Turns consists of one card drawn either from the stock pile or the discard pile and then the player must discard one card. Each player takes a turn until someone can discard and "RAP". They must have 3 of a kind or a run of the same suit in their hand to rap.

The cards available to be drawn depend on the number of players:

  • 3 - 4 Players: Pick top card only in discard pile or draw top card from stock pile.
  • 5 Players: Choice of either one of the top two cards in the discard pile, or top card from stock pile.
  • 6 or more Players: Choice of either one of the top three cards from the discard pile, or top card from the stock pile.

The object of the game is to get the lowest score and Rap as often as you can, catching the other players with a lot of points in their hand. The Rapper then gets a star in the upper half of the score column under his name. The star counts as zero and is added to the previous score in that column. He holds onto his cards and does not show them yet. Then each player gets one more turn to try to get a rummy or to rid his hand of a high card. Rapper lays down his cards after everyone has had a turn. The other players then lay their hand down and play off of only the Rapper’s hand. (Example: if Rapper lays down 3 (or more) card run of the same suit, such as heart5, heart6, heart7, the other players can play heart4 on the heart5 or heart8 and up consecutively on the heart7. On a set of 3 or more cards of the same rank such as clubJ, diamondJ, spadeJ, they can lay down any Jack in their hand.) By doing this you are eliminating points.

You then add up the points left in your hand and the scorekeeper puts the score under the proper name on the score sheet. The next deal is passed to the next person and four cards dealt to each player and played the same way except now you must get four of a kind or a run of the same suit. Follow thru dealing each new hand one more card than the hand before. Game #12 is double the points in your hand and game # 13 is triple the points in your hand.

Aces count as high only.

Jokers and deuces are wild. [There is apparently no restriction on the number of wild cards that can be used in a combination when rapping.]

Aces = 15 points; K = 10 points; [Q, J also 10 points;] 9-3 are face value.

[No value is given for Twos and Jokers. Since they are wild cards, any player holding one will be able to lay it off on the rapper's combinations.]

[In each successive hand, the number of cards dealt increases by one. When more than six cards are dealt, it is probably permissible as in most rummy games, to rap with two or more separate combinations, provided that each has at least three cards.]

Rapper’s Reward:

Take this out from the Ante either after each hand is played or wait until after the 13th hand is played and then tally up what is owed to each player. 10 cents per rap per person, ( i.e. 4 players = 40 cents a rap, 6 players = 60 cents a rap.)


The winner (lowest score) is deducted from each player’s final score and each player pays a penny per point to the winner. Round payoff to the nearest whole number, (e.g. 3 cents rounds off to a nickel, 8 cents rounds off to dime). Take this out from your pocket and pay the winner.

Try another round to see if you can get back your $ $ $ $

Score Sheet

score sheet

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Last updated: 7th November 2003