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The following is a glossary of terms used across the many different Rummy games and many are not exclusive to Rummy gaming but are also used in other card games
both on and offline. Rummy has its own language, terminology, words and phrases that have appeared with play over the years. Many of these terms are used to describe specific games, plays, hands, dilemmas or situations that arise.
Terms which are used in Poker also have been
described in a Rummy context.
This is not meant to be a formal dictionary with precise syntax and usage data but rather a concise list of terms in alphabetic order along side corresponding, basic definitions often with examples. Where a specific term is more relevant to specific Rummy games, those games are named
(italic) at the end of the definition. It
is not essential to know all the terminology in
order to play Rummy games. Whether you are playing
in real life or on our online Rummy system, the
information given in this glossary is simply to assist
understanding. Contact us at the bottom of this page if you have some terms you would like us to add or amend.
Aces High - This applies where Aces can be counted with a higher point value - where Q-K-A is valid but not A-2-3. In some games, Aces may be both low and high. This rule is sometimes used in conjunction with another - see "Round The Corner".
Aces Low - This applies where aces are always low and counted as 1 point - where A-2-3 is valid but not Q-K-A. In some games, Aces may be both high and low. This rule is sometimes used in conjunction with another - see "Round The Corner".
Add On – A card deliberately discarded to an opponent who needs it for a meld.
Angling – Discarding a card to induce your opponent to discard a card one rank away. This is a strategic move, also known as "side fishing" or "side
Ante – An ante is a forced placement
of funds whereby all players put an equal
amount of money or chips into the pot before
the deal begins. The amount will have been
predetermined by the stakes allocated to
that particular table.
Baiting – To discard a card in order to induce an opponent to discard another card of the same rank or in suit and sequence with it. This is a strategic move which is also known as "Advertising", "Baiting", "Chumming", "Fishing" or "Tempting".
Base – Four natural cards of the same rank, essential to making a canasta. (Canasta)
Base Count – The total of one’s bonus scores, as distinguished from the point values of cards melded. (Canasta)
Basic Contract – This is a term used to refer to the requirement of a specific deal in a hand of a Rummy where the melds needed are of a fixed character. This applies in a number games, Contract Rummy in particular. It may be said that a player has fulfilled the "basic contract of the deal". Also see "Contract". (Contract Rummy,
Basic Count– See "Base Count".
Blind Discard – A discard made without a clue as to whether an opponent can use it. This is often the first discard of a deal.
Blitz – See "Shutout".
Block – To withhold a card that would allow an opponent to complete a meld.
Bonus Box – The added score for winning a hand or box, which is usually worth 25 points. (Gin Rummy)
Book – See "Set".
Borrowing – Taking extra cards from one’s own previous melds to form new sets. (Rummy,
Gin Rummy, Panguingue)
Box – Each entry on the score sheet is known as a box. Extra awards of 25 points each, given for a knock, gin or gin off. (Gin Rummy)
Box Score – The score for winning a deal. This is also sometimes called the "Line Score". (Gin Rummy)
Buy In – The buy in is usually the minimum amount required to enter into a money tournament but can sometimes be quoted with a maximum buy in.
For example, a table can have a $100 minimum
buy in with a maximum buy in of $500.
Canasta – A meld of seven cards of the same rank. A "mixed canasta" is a meld containing one to three wild cards. A "natural canasta" or "pure canasta" is a meld containing no wild card. (Canasta)
Captain – One player playing against two who alternate in their play against him, or two players playing against three, or three playing against four.
Combination – Two cards that will become a matched set by addition of a suitable third card.
Concealed Hand –
The hand carried by one who goes out in a
single turn having made no previous melds. (Canasta,
Contract – The pre-fixed number and type of sets or runs that a player must meld on the first occasion in a specific deal. Also see "Basic Contract". (Contract Rummy)
Count – The point value in any given hand after deducting the total melded cards.
Cut – After the shuffle, to divide the deck of cards into two portions, to place the second portion on top of the first and thus to change their order.
Dead Cards – Those cards no longer available either because they are in the discard pile or because they are melded in a player's hand.
Deadwood – Any unmatched cards left with a player when a hand is finished.
Deadwood Count – The total value of the unmatched cards left with a player when a hand is finished. Also see "Deadwood".
– The distribution of the cards to players
that takes place at the start of each new
Dealer – The one who deals
out the cards.
Deck – The set of cards used to play a game.
Deuce – A two of any suit.
Discard – After picking a card, to reduce the hand by placing one card on the top of the discard pile face up thus ending one's turn.
Discard Pile – The pile of cards, next to the stock, into which each player in turn places his discard.
Draw – To take a card into the hand from the stock or the discard pile
- a card so taken is drawn.
End of Hand – In Gin Rummy play continues until a player gins, knocks, or until there are only two cards left in the stock pile. In the latter case, the hand is over and ends in a tie thus no points are scored. However in Straight Rummy, the discard pile is turned over, shuffled and becomes stock so play continues. (Rummy,
Exposed Card – In any partnership game, any that is dropped or so held that partner sees its face illegally.
Face Card – Any King, Queen, or Jack. In most games they score 10 points each.
Fill – Draw a card that turns a combination into a matched set.
Floating – Describes the situation in some games where a player need not discard. In other games, if your last card can be melded, you cannot discard it and you therefore become a floater until you find an unplayable card to discard.
Foot – The lower portion of the stock, when it is divided in two parts for easier handling.
Forcing – Discarding a card that the next player, under the rules, must take up. (Conquian)
Foreign Card – A card not belonging to the deck in use.
Frozen – Condition of the discard pile when, under the rules, it may be taken only by matching the top card with a natural pair. (Canasta)
A game is formed of a single round (or
hand), a fixed number of rounds (or hands)
or even an indeterminate number of rounds
(or hands) to be played until one player
reaches a certain score (ie Target Score). A
game ends when one of the players or sides
has reached this target score or the number
of hands or rounds pre-arranged to be played
has been completed (ie Target Rounds). Also
see "Target", "Round" and "Hand".
Gin – When a player is able to meld his entire hand with no deadwood remaining. He places one card face down and scores the value of the opponents deadwood count plus a 25 point "Gin" bonus. (Gin Rummy)
Gin Hand – This refers to a hand with no unmatched cards. (Gin Rummy)
Gin Off – When an opponent lays off all of his unmelded (ie unmatched) cards on the knocker’s hand. (Gin Rummy)
Go Down – See "Knock" and "Meld".
Go Gin – See "Gin". (Gin Rummy)
Go Out – Get rid of the last card in the hand.
Go Rummy – See "Rummy".
Going To The Wall – See "Stand Off".
Group – See "Set".
Hand – The cards dealt to a player; the cards he holds at any stage; a deal ending with a knock or gin; or the entire deal i.e. "a hand of Rummy".
A single hand of Rummy is the same as a
single round of Rummy. A game of Rummy is
formed of a single hand (or round) or a
succession of hands (or rounds). Also see
"Game", "Round" and "Target".
Head – The upper portion of the stock, when it is divided in two parts for easier handling.
House Rules – House rules are often rules which are different than those given in the official rules of a game. They are often rules which are agreed upon by a party or parties to a game prior to the start of the game and may include optional rules that are known to sometimes be included in the play of a game or variations of it.
Illegal Hand – Any hand which, after discarding, contains more or less than 10 cards. (Gin Rummy)
Initial Meld – The first meld made in a deal by a player or a side, when this meld must conform to certain specifications. (Canasta,
Knave – Any jack.
Knock – To announce the end of play by placing the remainder of one’s cards face up on the table. Also see "Meld".
Knocking Count – The maximum unmelded count (ie deadwood score) with which a player may knock. Same as knocking point or knocking card. In Gin Rummy this is usually 10 points.
Lay Down – See "Meld".
Lay Off –
To place a card or cards from the hand onto
melds already placed on the table in order
to extend a set or sequence. In Rummy and
Rummy 500 this is done on the turn of a
player but in Gin Rummy, this is done only after a knock, to match cards from the opponent's hand against any of the knocker’s melded sets
- there is no laying off when a player has gone gin. (Rummy,
Rummy 500, Gin
Line Score – Same as box score. (Gin Rummy)
Matched Card – One that is part of a matched set.
Matched Set – Three or more cards which, under the rules, may be melded together.
Meld – Three or more cards either of the same rank or in a sequence of the same suit. Also see "Matched Set",
"Set" and "Run".
Melding – The
act of forming cards into a set or sequence
in the hand. Note that this terminology also
applies to the act of placing melds down
onto the table. Also see "Meld".
Natural Card – One that is not a wild card.
Off Card – One that is neither matched nor part of a combination.
Pack – The pile of cards upon which cards are discarded. Also see "Stock" and "Discard Pile". (Oklahoma,
Player – A card which, if retained or taken up, could be laid off (possibly on a set known to be in an opponent's hand).
Pot – The total contribution by all
players to the prize pool, which is
delivered to the winner at the end of the
Prize Pile – A discard pile that is frozen. (Canasta)
Prize Pool – See "Pot".
Quint – A sequence of five cards of
the same suit, such as 45678
Major), or a
– The amount of money taken out of every pot
by the house. This is the Rummy room's
Rank – A card's name and hierarchy (ace, ten, king, queen, or jack) as distinguished from its suit (hearts, diamonds, spades or clubs) .
Redeal – Another deal by the same player after one which was nullified.
Red Three – A three of diamonds or a three of hearts which are worth 100 points each or double if all four are melded by one side. (Canasta)
Reducer – Any low card picked with the object of allowing the discard of a higher value card with the object of reducing the deadwood count value in a hand.
Rope – See "Run".
– A single deal which ends with a player
going out and point scoring. Also see
"Game", "Hand" and "Target".
Round The Corner – The rule that the Ace in sequence with both the King and the Deuce is allowable (K-A-2). This rule can be invoked where Aces are low, Aces are high or where Aces can be high or low but is included more often in games where Aces are high rather than where Aces are low. Also see "Aces Low" and "Aces High".
Broad term covering the entire Rummy family
of games. Also used to describe the
situation where in the game of straight
Rummy, a player lays down a hand with no unmatched, cards, not previously having melded and thereby scoring a bonus which is usually a doubling of points scored. (Rummy)
Run – (aka "Sequence", "Stringer", "Straight" or "Rope") A lot of 3 or more cards of same suit and consecutive rank in a sequence, such as for example: 345 or even 45678
Safe Card – See "Safe Discard".
Safe Count – The point value that can be retained in a hand to prevent any possibility of an opponent winning a game.
Safe Discard – A card which, when discarded, was considered to be one that would not be taken up by an opponent. This is normally deduced from the player's own holding and the cards taken and discarded in previous plays by the opponent(s).
Salesman – A card discarded to lure a wanted card from an opponent.
Schneider – See "Shutout".
Score – The score accumulated for each player.
Sequence – See "Run".
Set – (aka "Book" or "Group")
This is a group of three or four cards of the same rank
and different suits such as, for example: 333 or 9999
Shuffle – To randomize the cards before cutting and dealing.
Shutout – Winning of a game in which the opponent has scored not a single point.
Sit Out – To miss a hand and/or
subsequent hands while still sitting at a
Skunk – Term describing defeat by a shutout.
Speculate – To pick an opponent’s discard which produces a combination rather than a meld.
Spread – A melded set.
Stand Off – To play a game to a tie.
Stock – The remainder of the pack after the original hands are dealt, usually placed face down, and from whence cards may be drawn.
Stop Card – A black three or any wild card when discarded, since the next player may not then take the discard pile. (Canasta)
Straight – See "Run".
Stringer – See "Run".
Suit – One of the four suits of cards in a deck: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
Take Up – See "Draw".
Target – Either a fixed amount of points (a target
score) which has been set before the start
of a game or a number of rounds or hands
(a target rounds) for which the game is
to be played. Also see "Target Rounds" and
Rounds – (aka "Rounds Target" or
"Hands Target") A target rounds game is one
which is played for a set amount of rounds.
For example, a game of Rummy may be played
to three rounds. In this case, the game will
end after three hands and the player with
the highest score at that point will be
declared the winner. The advantages of
playing to a fixed amount of rounds as
opposed to a fixed amount of points are that
it changes the point scoring dynamic of the
game and also makes it considerably easier
to estimate how much time the game will take
from start to finish. Also see "Target".
– (aka "Points Target" or "Target Points")
The target score can be set before the start
of each game and the winner is the first to
reach that score, at which point the game
ends. In Rummy 500 the target score is
usually 500 (by default) and in Gin Rummy
the target score is often 100 points (by default),
although in both cases different target scores
may be agreed upon depending on how much
time each of the participants have available
for playing the game. Also see "Target". (Gin Rummy,
Three Hand Meld – A hand made up of three melds.
Top Card – The card at the top of the stock pile (face down).
Trey – A three of any suit.
Triplet – A group of three.
Turn up – See "Upcard".
Undercut – Reduce one’s deadwood to the same or lesser count than the knocker’s. (Gin Rummy)
Unload – To discard high cards or meld them with the object of reducing the maximum possible deadwood score in case another player knocks or gins.
Unmatched Cards – See "Deadwood".
Upcard – The card at the top of the discard pile (face up).
Valle Cards – Threes, fives and sevens are known as "cards of value" and are so called because there is a special bonus given for groups of these. Cards of other rank are considered to be "non-valle". (Panguingue)
Wild Card – One that may be designated to be of any suit and rank by the owner. Jokers are wild in some Rummy games and can be used as any card to complete a set or sequence but not in laying off. In some Kalooki games the joker may be freely substituted for any card during laying off. (Kalooki,
Rummy, Rummy 500)
Wild Discard – One that the discarder is aware can and may be taken up by an opponent. A wild discard is one that is completely unsafe but often necessary.
If you have a special or known term which is utilised in Rummy gaming or can suggest some corrections to existing ones, we would appreciate you letting us know so that we can amend this glossary accordingly. Contact us