Tuesday, March 11, 2014


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, it should come as no surprise that I love games. I have a particular soft-spot for complex board games, but I also enjoy a lot of different card games. Some family favorites include Euchre, Nertz (a variant of Dutch Blitz), and Rummy in all its various forms and iterations. But this past weekend I got introduced to a Rummy variant that I really enjoyed, so I thought I would pass it along to  my readers.

It’s called Joker Rummy (well okay, technically Jok-R-ummy, but I do not want to write that out every time!). Like most forms of Rummy, you divide out all the cards, draw and discard a card each turn, and attempt to lay down sets (cards of the same number) or runs (cards of the same suit in order) to score points. In this case, both Jokers and 2s are considered wild, meaning that they can be used to represent any other card. But unlike traditionally Rummy, every player isn’t going for the same goal. Instead, each round, you draw a card that describes your particular goal for that round.

Let me give you a few examples:
  • A set of 5 of a particular card (like 5 Jacks or 5 10s, for example)
  • Two three card sets and one four card run
  • A run of seven cards
  • A run of four cards in a particular suit
Once you achieve your goal for that round, you try to “go out” like in traditionally Rummy, by adding to either your own played cards or those of your opponent, until you discard your last card at the end of your turn. However, you don’t score any points this way. Instead, your only points are the number of goal cards you complete at the end of the game, which is typically played to seven. As soon as someone goes out, the round is over. Any player who completed their goal draws a new card, and the next round begins.

Luck is obviously a major factor in any card game, and the fact that there is so much variation among the goal cards just increases that variability. Worse still, if you don’t complete a particular hard goal, you’re stuck with it for every round until you finally do so. This can be quite punishing when you have a particularly difficult goal.

As a result, we tried two different variants to help mitigate this:
  1. If you get stuck on the same goal for two rounds in a row, you have the option to discard that card and take a new one before starting the next round.
  2. Rather than drawing one goal, you start with three goals in hand. You may attempt any of these three goals during a round, but you can only accomplish one per round. Additionally, in-between rounds, you always draw back up to three goal cards.
Overall, I found Joker Rummy to be an enjoyable game. It’s not particularly difficult or complex, but there’s just enough strategy to make it interesting. Seems like it would be a great game when you just want something to play while enjoying good conversation with friends. If you’re looking for something a bit different to play at your next game night – give it a try!

See you next time.


  1. Hey, thanks for posting this. I love this idea, reminds me of Flux. My wife and I play Rummy every now and then, and this seems a great way to shake up the meta.

  2. Glad you liked it. Let me know how it goes!