The Evolution of Rummy

Whether it’s killing boredom on a lazy afternoon or celebrating festivals with friends and family, a game of cards has always been something people look forward to. And anyone who knows anything about playing cards would have definitely played the fascinating game of rummy.

What is Rummy

Rummy is a group of card games played by two or more people that involves matching cards of the same rank or sequence and same suit. In its simplest version, the game requires creation of sets (three of the same rank across different suits) or melds (three cards of the same suit in a sequence). 

The History of Rummy

Rummy’s history is as interesting as the game itself!

Rummy is actually believed to have evolved from a game called Conquian, which itself started getting played sometime in mid 19th century. The earliest origins trace back to Mexico, from where it is believed to have spread to various parts of America, followed by the rest of the world. The name has its likely origins in the Spanish phrase con quién meaning ‘with whom’.

Another school of thought traces back the origins of rummy to Asia. It is believed that the name Conquian was actually derived from the word Kon Khin. While no official records of a game of this name have been found, it is believed to be a later day version of the Chinese game Khanhoo. 

How did Rummy get its name?

Theories abound as to how this game came to be known as rummy. 

The most commonly believed origin story is as follows. The word ‘rum’ used to be a British slang that meant ‘peculiar’. Perhaps the earliest observers of the game found it to be uniquely odd, resulting in the name ‘rummy’ getting associated with it.

A simpler theory suggests rummy to have evolved from rum poker, another popular card game with some common features. 

A much more believable origin story is that perhaps the earliest players of the game played it during bouts of drinking rum, with the loser having to pay for refills for the entire group!

Rummy in India

Rummy probably came to India from America, but the manner of playing is slightly different. Technically, it’s believed to be an offshoot of gin rummy and rummy 500 combined. 

Indian rummy is played with each player getting dealt with 13 cards each with typically 2 to 6 players playing the game. 

Difference between Rummy and Poker

Many different variations of rummy exist, but at the heart of it, rummy is a game of skill. It requires great presence of mind, strategic thinking and acute powers of observation making it an extremely enjoyable game to master. 

On the other hand, poker, while requiring some amount of skill, is largely a game of chance. Every game of poker involves betting on the outcome, making it a form of gambling. 

If one were to compare rummy and poker in simple words, rummy is about how you play your cards, whereas poker is about what cards you’re dealt.