Ramino Pokerato


The idea of combining Poker and Rummy must be especially attractive to Italian card players, since Ramino Pokerato ('Pokerised Rummy') is a name given to at least three different Italian Rummy games.

The first two versions described on this page feature poker-like betting and are also sometimes known as Ramino con Rilancio - 'rilancio' is a raise in poker. Version 1 is played with a double deck and four Jokers. In version 2 (con Jolly immaginario) there are no printed Jokers but a player can use any one card as a wild card (an 'imaginary joker') to complete a hand. There are probably many local versions of these games featuring various selections of the variants listed and no doubt there are other variants as well.

In the third version, sometimes known as Carioca there is no poker-like escalation of stakes. It is a kind of Contract Rummy that is 'pokerised' in the sense that many of the contracts require poker-like combinations as the player's initial meld.

With thanks to Antonio de Sebastiano for descriptions of the first two versions and Byron Ioannou for the Cypriot variant Pokerize. The imaginary Joker version is also described in the book I Giochi di Carte by Fantini and Santelia (Rizzoli, Milan, 1985). The contract version appears in an Italian Wikipedia page, which also describes a variant of the imaginary Joker version.

Version 1 - with Jokers and betting

Players and Cards

This game is best for 3 to 5 players. A double deck of standard international playing cards with 4 Jokers is used, so there are 108 cards (2×52 + 4). Deal and play are clockwise, and the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand.

The amount of the basic fixed stake (blind) should be agreed before beginning the session.

Card Combinations: Sets and Runs

As in all Rummy games the players aim to collect cards in their hands that form sets and runs.

A set consists of three or more cards of the same rank, and may include two identical cards, for example heart2-heart2-club2.

A run or sequence consists of three or more cards consecutive cards of the same suit. In this game runs are allowed to 'turn the corner': the Ace is adjacent to both the King and the Two, so for example clubQ-clubK-clubA, diamondK-diamondA-diamond2 and spadeA-spade2-spade3 are all legal runs.

Jokers are wild. When making sets or runs, they can be used to represent any desired card.

Deal and Betting

After the cards have been shuffled by the dealer and cut by the player to dealer's right, each player receives a hand of 10 cards, dealt one at a time. The rest of the pack is stacked face down to form a stock from which cards are drawn during the play.

The first player to dealer's left has to open the betting by paying a fixed stake to the pool - this is called "fare il buio". This is similar to the 'blind' bet in some poker games, and should be placed before the first player looks at their hand. The other players, after seeing their cards, may call, fold or raise this bet as in a normal poker game - see poker betting for details of how this works. If all players except one fold the last remaining player collects the pool, there is no play and the turn to deal passes to the next dealer.

When the betting round ends with two or more players still in the game, the play begins with the player to dealer's left, or if this player has folded with the next player in clockwise order who has not folded. The first player draws the top card of the stock, adds it to their hand, and discards one card face up next to the stock to begin the discard pile. Subsequent active players in turn must first draw either the top card of the face down stock or the top card of the face up discard pile, add it to their hand, and then discard any one of their 11 cards face up on top of the discard pile.

This continues until a player ends the game after drawing by laying down 10 of their hand cards arranged into valid combinations and discarding their 11th card. This is known as closing (or going out). This player collects the whole contents of the pool, and the other players do not have to show their cards. The following should be noted.

  1. No combinations are shown during the play. A player places sets and runs face up on the table only when going out and ending the play.
  2. A player who can use 10 cards in sets and runs can go out on any turn. The first player can even go out on the very first turn of the game if holding 10 cards that can be arranged into combinations after drawing the top card of the stock.
  3. When going out, no card can belong to two combinations at the same time. For example heart6-heart7-heart8-diamond8-club8 can make a run of hearts or a set of eights but not both. To make all these cards into combinations the player would need to add either a heart5 to the run or another 8 to the set.
  4. There is no limit to the number of Jokers that can be used as wild cards in a combination.
  5. A discard is needed when going out: a player is not allowed to use all 11 cards in combinations. (This is not really a restriction: in an 11-card hand at least one of the combinations must have more than 3 cards, so a card can be discarded from it.)
  6. A player who is able to go out is not obliged to do so but can continue playing, in the hope of collecting an extra payment (see below).

Usually a number of additional payments are agreed for particular types of hand. If a player closes with one of these special hands, all other active players (those who have not folded) must make an extra payment to the winner. The extra payment is a multiple of the total amount that they have already bet on the hand.

  • If the winner has only two combinations - for example a run of 7 and a set of 3 or a run of 4 and a set of 6 - all active players must pay one extra stake, this doubling the amount of their bet.
  • If the winner has just one 10-card combination (it could be a long run or a set with Jokers), all active players must pay three extra stakes to the winner, thus quadrupling their bet.
  • If the winner has just one 10-card run without Jokers, all active players must pay four extra stakes to the winner, thus quintupling their bet.

Variant: Pokerize

In the name of this variant, which is played in Cyprus, the final e is pronounced: 'pokerizé'. It is played with only two Jokers, so 106 cards in all, and there are 5-8 players. 10 cards each are dealt, as in Ramino Pokerato.

The special hands that entitle the winner to receive one extra stake from each active player are known as pokerize. They are:

  • A run of 7 with a set of 3
  • A run of 10
  • Five pairs of identical cards: the cards in each pair must be the same rank and the same suit.

Version 2 - with an imaginary Joker

In the version described by Antonio de Sebastiano the rules are the same as for Ramino Pokerato with Jokers and betting (above), but it is played with a double deck without Jokers.

Each player is dealt ten cards. When closing (going out) a player can nominate any one of the 10 cards in card in their hand as a wild card to complete a combination.

Variant: fare il buio (blind bet)

Fantini and Santelia describe a similar game but with a different version of blind betting. Before each deal the dealer places a basic stake (ante) in the pool and the player to dealer's right has the option to bet twice the amount of the ante before the deal - this is known as 'fare il buio' (blind betting). The cards are then dealt. If the first player placed a blind bet, the other players in turn (including the dealer) have the option after seeing their cards either to play by equalling the blind bet or to fold, but they cannot raise the stake.

If all fold the first player collects the pool, winning the ante. If any of the other players play, the blind bettor cannot fold at this stage (the bets are already equalised), but has the option to raise the stake or just to play. If the blind bettor raises, a normal poker-style betting round ensues in which players can call, raise or fold. If the blind-bettor just plays, the game begins and none of the other players has the opportunity to raise the stake.

If the first player chooses not to bet blind, the cards are dealt and there is a normal poker-style betting round beginning with the first player, who chooses whether or not to bet after seeing their cards.

The advantage of betting blind is that the first player then acts last in the betting round and can prevent any other player from raising the stake. The disadvantage is that if anyone calls, the first player will have to play even if dealt bad cards.

Variant: special hands

Fantini and Santelia give a different set of special closing hands, for which the winner receives an extra payment from each active player which is a multiple of the total amount they have bet on the hand (excluding the dealer's ante). There are probably many local variants of this.

Special hand Payment
Two sets of three of a kind plus a four of a kind of pictures (4 Kings, 4 Queens or 4 Jacks) One extra stake
Three sequences in the same suit One extra stake
Only two combinations (for example 4 of a kind and a sequence of 6) One extra stake
Five pairs each consisting of two identical cards Two extra stakes
A single sequence of ten cards in a suit Four extra stakes
Five pairs of two identical cards, all in the same suit Five extra stakes

Variant: Ace high or low in sequence

Some players do not allow an Ace to be used in the interior of a sequence. It can be either a low card, next to the 2, or a high card, next to the King, but not both at once.

Variant: game with 9-card hands and fixed bets and raises

Italian Wikipedia describes a variant in which only 9 cards are dealt to each player rather than 10, but when going out a player can add an imaginary wild card (jolly immaginario) to their 9 real cards to complete a combination. According to this description it is usual to play alternate rounds (a round consisting of as many deals as there are players, each player dealing once) clockwise and anticlockwise, so that each time the turn to deal comes back to the first dealer the direction of play reverses.

As in any gambling game the players should agree on the stake, the basic stake to play a hand being 5 units.

When the cards have been dealt and the payers have looked at their cards, the first player decides whether to open the game by paying an initial bet of 5 units to the pool, or to pass and wait for the other players' decisions. If the first player passes the other players in turn have the same options until all have passed or someone decides to open the game.

If a player opens the game, there is a poker-style betting round in which players in turn can call, fold or raise. A player who calls must pay the pool so that their total contribution to the pool is equal of the last player who bet or raised.

The bet can be raised up to four times by fixed amounts. The first raise "per tre" raises the stake from 5 units to 15, the second "per sei" from 15 to 30, the third "per nove" from 30 to 45 and the final raise "per dieci" from 45 to 50. A player who raises must add enough to the pool so that their total contribution is equal to the new bet.

A player who folds discards their cards face down and takes no further part in the play of that hand. If they have only passed and not called any bets or raises they must pay 1 unit to the pool. If they have already paid the pool to call or raise, they simply lose what they have paid to the pool.

If all players pass and no one opens the game, the stakes for the next hand are doubled: it will cost 10 units to open and the raises are to 30, 60, 90 and 100. If all pass again the cost to open in the next hand will increase to 20 units, then to 30 units if all pass again, and then to the maximum 40 if four consecutive deals have been passed out. The raises increase in proportion, so that when the initial stake is 40 units the final raise will be to 400. (Presumably the cost of folding in response to the opening bet rises in proportion, reaching 8 units when it costs 40 to open.)

Some play that double stakes are the limit, so the opening bet after any number of passed hands remains at 10 units without further increase, and reverts to 5 after a deal in which the betting is opened.

If the betting is opened but in the ensuing betting round all but one players fold the last surviving player collects the pool.

If there is more than one player still in the game at the end of the betting round the play begins with the first surviving player after the dealer in the direction of play. This player draws the top card of the stock and discards one face up to start the discard pile. Subsequent players in turn draw the top card of either the stock or the discard pile and discard a card face up on the discard pile. Thus players always have 9 cards at the end of each turn.

The play continues until a player closes the game and collects the pool. This can be done at the end of any turn, even the very first of the game, by discarding a card and exposing a hand consisting entirely of valid combinations: sets of three or more equal cards and/or sequences of three consecutive cards in suit as above. However in this game it is possible to use one imaginary Joker - a non-existent wild card - to represent a card needed to complete one combination. Therefore a player could close the game for example with club3-club3-diamond3, spade7-spade8-spade9 and diamond10-diamondQ-diamondK with the imaginary Joker representing a diamondJ.

There are also some special hands which entitle a player to close the game and receive an extra payment from the losing players based on the amount they bet on the hand.

  1. If a player closes with 9 cards of the same suit ('colore'), all active losing players pay one extra stake (their bet is doubled).
  2. If a player closes with 9 consecutive cards of the same suit ('scala colore'), all active losing players pay three extra stakes (they lose four times their bet).
  3. A player closes with a 'scala reale' - a 9 card sequence in suit from 5 to King, all active losing players pay five extra stakes (they lose 6 times their bet).

Version 3 - contract game with 8 deals

This version of Contract Rummy, sometimes known as Carioca, is for 3-5 players using a double deck of cards with 4 Jokers (108 cards). It can be adapted for a greater number of players by adding extra packs of cards. Deal and play are anticlockwise. The following rules are based on a description in Italian Wikipedia.

The game consists of a series of eight deals (hands). The Wikipedia page does not clearly explain this, but it seems that there must be two types of pool (piatti), one for the winner of each hand which I will call the hand pool, and one for the winner of the overall game, which I will call the game pool.


Before beginning the players should agree the stakes maximum score with which a player can stay in the game. [The editor's suggestions are in square brackets.]

  • the stake to be paid to the game pool by each player at the start of the game [10 units],
  • the stake to be paid to the hand pool by each player at the start of each hand [2 units],
  • the cost of buying a discard out of turn (paid to the pool for the current hand) [1 unit],
  • the exit score: a player whose score reaches or exceeds this amount is eliminated from the game unless they pay to re-enter [100 points],
  • the cost of re-entering the game, paid to the game pool [5 units].

Combinations and Opening Melds

The possible combinations are:

  • Pair (only allowed as part of an opening meld in deals 1, 2 and 4): two cards of the same rank but different suits.
  • Three of a kind: three cards of the same rank, all of different suits.
  • Four of a kind (known as a "poker"): four cards of the same rank, one of each suit.
  • Sequence: at least three consecutive cards of the same suit. Aces can be low (next to the Two) or high (next to the King) but cannot be used in the interior of a sequence. The maximum length of a sequence is 14 cards, with an Ace at each end.

Jokers are wild and can be used as a substitute for any needed card, but cannot be used in a player's opening meld (except in deal 8).

Each deal has a different requirement for each player's opening meld, as follows:

  1. One Pair: a pair of Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks of different suits.
  2. Two pairs: a pair of Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks, plus another pair of any rank.
  3. Three of a kind: three cards of the same rank and different suits
  4. Full house: a three of a kind plus a pair
  5. Scala quaranta: one or more valid combinations (sets of at least three of a kind and/or sequences) in which the cards have a total value of exactly 40 points, the card values being as follows:
    • each Ace: 11 points
    • each K, Q, J: 10 points
    • each pip card (10-2): face value
  6. Poker: four cards of the same rank and different suits.
  7. Straight flush: A sequence of exactly five consecutive cards of the same suit.
  8. Closing in hand: after drawing the player melds all their cards in valid sets of three or four of a kind and/or sequences, with no card discarded at the end of the turn. This is the only opening meld that can include one or more Jokers.

Deal and Play

The first dealer is chosen by any convenient random method and the turn to deal passes anticlockwise after each hand. The dealer shuffles and the player to the dealer's left cuts. After all players have contributed the agreed amount to the hand pool, the dealer gives each player a hand of 13 cards, dealing them one at a time face down. The next card is placed face up on the table to begin the discard pile and the remainder of the pack is stacked face down beside it to form a drawing stock. The players then pick up their hands and look at them.

The player to dealer's right plays first. Each turn consists of the following steps:

1. Drawing a card (compulsory)
The player may either take the top card of the stock pile or the top card of the discard pile and add it to their hand. On their first turn only, each player may choose to draw two cards instead of one from the stock pile.
If the player chooses to draw from the stock pile, any other player may at this point take the top card of the discard pile by paying the agreed amount to the hand pool. This does not count as a turn for them: they simply add this extra card to their hand after which the player drawing from the stock continues with their turn. Only one card can be taken from the discard pile in each turn: if more than one player wants to buy the card the player nearest in anticlockwise rotation to the player whose turn it is buys the card. If the player whose turn it is wants to draw the top card of the discard pile no other player can buy it.
2. Melding (optional)
A player who has not yet melded can open by placing face up on the table in front of them exactly the cards that are required for the opening meld in this particular deal. The player cannot meld any further cards on this turn.
A player who has already opened on a previous turn may lay down new sets of 3 or 4 of a kind or new sequences of 3 or more cards, and can also add cards from their hand to combinations melded by themselves or other players, extending a pair or set of 3 to a set of 3 or 4 cards or extending a sequence to make a longer sequence. When laying down new combinations or extending sequences Jokers can be used as substitutes of any missing cards.
Exception. A player cannot add cards to any combination that was part of their own opening meld.
3. Discarding (compulsory except when closing in deal 8)
A player ends their turn by discarding one card from hand face up on top of the discard pile.
In deals 1, 2 and 7 there are certain 'key cards' that cannot be discarded until all players have opened, unless the player is forced to do so, having nothing but key cards in their hand.
  • In deals 1 and 2, Aces, Kings, Queens or Jacks are key cards that cannot be discarded, since a pair of one of these is needed for the opening meld.
  • In deal 7, Fives and Tens are key cards that cannot be discarded, since every straight flush must include a 5 or a 10.
A player who chose to draw two cards from the stock in their first turn still discards only one card.

If a player has no cards in their hand after discarding, the play ends immediately and the hand is scored. This is known as 'closing'. No player is allowed to close in their first or second turn to play. Until their third turn a player must keep at least two cards in their hand after melding - one to discard and one or more to keep in hand.

Except in deal 8, where a player closes by melding all their cards at once with no discard, a player must always end their turn with a discard even when closing. So in deals 1-7 a player is not allowed to meld all their cards as they would then have nothing to discard.

If the player still has at least one card in their hand after discarding, play continues with the next player in anticlockwise order, who now begins their turn by drawing a card.


The player who closed collects the hand pool for the current hand, and the score for the hand is calculated and recorded.

The player who closed scores -20 points, and all other players score for cards remaining their hands as follows.

  • Each Ace: 11 points. Exception: a player who has only one Ace in their hand and nothing else scores 1 point instead of 11.
  • Each K, Q, J: 10 points.
  • Each pip card (10-2): face value.
  • Each Joker: 25 points.

A cumulative score is kept for each player. This may be negative, because of the negative score for going out.

If any player's score is equal to or greater than the limit agreed at the start of the game, they must either retire from the game or pay to the game pool the agreed cost of re-entry. The score of a player who chooses to pay to re-enter the game is set equal to that of the player who currently has the highest score below the limit.

At the end of the eighth hand, the winner of the hand takes the hand pool as usual, and the player whose total score is lowest after this final hand has been scored wins the game and collects the whole game pool. In the event of a tie for lowest, the tied players divide the game pool equally between them.

Variation: Carioca Pazza

The Wikipedia page describes a variant called Carioca Pazza ('Crazy Carioca') in which the different deals can be played in any order. In each deal, after the players have looked at their hands, the dealer decides which of the remaining deals should be played next. Presumably each of the eight opening contracts is played only once, so there are eight deals in total and the dealer cannot opt for an opening contract that has already been played.

In recognition of the dealer's advantage, in this version the score for closing is only -10 points if the dealer closes, but -30 if any other player closes.

This page is maintained by John McLeod, john@pagat.com   © John McLeod, 2023. Last updated: 2nd March 2023