Rummikub Rules for Gameplay – Simplified for Beginners

A game of Rummikub in play on a green-felt table.

Is it Rummy? Is it Mahjong? No! It’s Rummikub, somewhat of a kind of cross between Rummy and Mahjong.

Instead of using playing cards, you use tiles. Instead of these tiles having images, they have numbers with a couple Joker tiles in play as well.

So if you’re a fan of either or both games, it’s a great way to combine them and have some mentally stimulating fun!

How do you play Rummikub? In Rummikub, players meld or manipulate tiles to create runs and groups. At any point in the game, a tile can be removed from or added to previous sets to create a new one. The first player out of tiles says “Rummikub” and wins.

So, what’s it all about? That’s what we get into next. We will show you how to set it up and get into the nitty-gritty of how to play.

Playing Rummikub: Quick Guide

In Rummikub you use colored, numbered tiles to create strings of tiles called runs or melds. We will get into the terminology shortly.

You can manipulate melds and pick up tiles from the board to use on other moves providing there are always three at play in a meld or run.

The goal is to play all your tiles on your rack first.

  • Number of players: 2 – 4
  • Number of tiles: 106
  • Object of the game: Use tiles from your rack to create legal groupings.
  • Winning the game: Whoever clears their rack and says “Rummikub” first wins.

Rummikub Game Setup

Setting up Rummikub is simple. First, all the tiles are placed into a bag, and each player picks one. Whoever has the highest number goes first. 

From there, all the tiles are shuffled with each player taking 14 tiles. These are placed on the players’ racks.

The rest of the tiles become the pool from which players will draw when they can’t make a move or are taking a penalty.

That’s it! You’re ready to play. Let’s go over some terms to know next.

Rummikub Terms To Understand

As with many games, there are terms to know when playing Rummikub. They may seem strange at first, but after a few rounds, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable. 


A set is a group of tiles played together.


A group is a set of three or more tiles of the same number with each in a different color. (4,4,4,4; 8,8,8; etc.)


A run is composed of a set of three or more tiles of the same color in numeric, consecutive order ( 1,2,3; 7,8,9; etc.)


Melding is the term used to describe how you manipulate the tiles on the table to create groups and runs.

Rummikub Joker Rules

A joker can be substituted for any tile when you’re making a meld. You may not take a tile away from a meld that includes a joker. 

You may, however, substitute a joker with a tile of the same value. The joker must be used immediately during your current turn.

Rummikub Rules

Rummikub rules are simple. A player must first make an initial meld worth 30 or more points on their first turn.

Once everyone has played, players take turns continuing to meld and manipulate the tiles to create more runs and groups or take from one run or group to add to another.

At least one tile from your rack must be played when you’re forming sets.

One thing to remember is that a tile from the center of the table may not be put back in your rack at any time.

Once it has been played, it can be manipulated on the table in the future, but you can’t take it back.

The first to clear their rack of tiles and say “Rummikub” wins. 

Don’t worry, we go into more detail below.

Groups and runs of tiles in Rummikub.

How To Play Rummikub

As with any game, the first move is, well, the first. Rummikub has specific rules for your first melds, so that’s a great place to start. 

The first rule is that you must make a meld worth 30 or more points in your first play. These first points must come from your rack alone. You cannot use another meld to get the required points.

A joker can be substituted for any tile and is worth 30 points.

After everyone has made their first plays, play will continue with each playing adding to or manipulating the melds. More on manipulating later.

Keep in mind that at least three tiles must remain in play for each meld at all times. 

If you cannot make a move, then you must pick up a tile from the pool. 

After picking a tile, you must wait until your next turn to play. If you can’t play, you will continue to pick up a tile each turn until you can, but once a tile is drawn from the pool, it cant’ be played until your next turn. 

There are some time rules and penalties with Rummikub. Each player has two minutes per turn.

If a player plays over the two minutes, they must draw one tile from the pool. If they play incomplete melds, they must take back all the tiles they played and pull three more from the pool. 

Ways To Manipulate Tiles

Manipulating tiles is simply taking away or adding to a run or group.  

You can take tiles from existing sets to use in forming melds, always leaving 3 tiles in play for each set, and combine them with one or more tiles from your rack.

Here are some examples of plays that can be made:

  •  A 3, 3, 3 have been played. You can add your 3. Because you added a tile, you may take any of the other 3s to create another run or group. You must leave at least 3 tiles in order to make another meld.
  • A 5, 6, and 7 are on the table. You can add  4 or 8. If you have a joker, you can play a 4, 8, and the joker to create a run from 4 to 9, all red

Winning the Game

Winning is simple. A player must play all the tiles from their rack and say “Rummikub.”

Scoring Rounds in Rummikub

At the end of a round, each player will add up the score of the remaining tiles on their rack. A joker is worth 30 points, and the rest are worth face value.

The total score is seen as a negative for the players but a positive for the winner. The winner’s score should equal the total of the other players’ negative score. 

What Is the Difference Between Rummikub Classic and Rummikub Experience?

Rummikub Experience is played just like Rummikub Classic. However, Rummikub Experience comes with different racks that don’t allow your opponents to see how many tiles you have left.

It’s a nice way to add a bit more of a competitive edge to the game.

Is Rummikub the Same as Rummy?

It is true that Rummikub is similar to Rummy, but there are two distinct differences.

  1. Rummikub is played with tiles, while Rummy is played with playing cards.
  2. You can manipulate and change the tiles in Rummikub. This cannot be done with Rummy.

How Is Rummikub Twist Different?

While Rummikub classic comes with a standard joker tile, Rummikub twists comes with 4 jokers of different types.

In addition to the Regular Joker, you also have your Double Joker, Color Change Joker, and the Mirror Joker.

Double Joker – This joker fills in two spots instead of just one.

Color Change Joker – This joker is only used in runs and is used to play two sets of different colors.

Mirror Joker – This joker is used to create sets with the same number being on either side of the joker.

Other than that, gameplay stays the same!


That’s the game in a nutshell. This game is great for family or friend game nights. It will keep players on their toes and maybe cause a couple of friendly in-game spats.

Start off with Classic and move your way up to Twist. With multiple versions, this game is sure to keep everyone guessing! Throw some tiles down already! Let’s play!

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!