Contract Rummy (Rules and Instructions)

If you are a fan of rummy games, you shouldn’t hesitate to add Contract Rummy to your repertoire. My Contract Rummy rules guide will teach you how it’s played.

Contract Rummy is a classic rummy-style card game for three to eight players who must complete prescribed melds and get rid of their cards as fast as possible.

The game is often perceived as the closest alternative to Liverpool Rummy (see Liverpool Rummy rules), and its rules also have some similarities with Conquian rules.

Nevertheless, the game also has some original aspects you should know before playing.

This Contract Rummy rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is Contract Rummy?
  • What you’ll need to play Contract Rummy
  • Liverpool Contract rules
  • How to play Contract Rummy (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to Contract Rummy (our guides)

Continue reading for clear and detailed instructions on how to play Contract Rummy.

What is Contract Rummy?

Contract Rummy Card Game Info image

Contract Rummy is played over a series of rounds where players compete to form card melds and get rid of the rest of their cards by adding them to these melds later.

Contract Rummy tests your focus and logical thinking. Although the rules don’t leave much space for improvisation, the game allows you to show off your tactic skills to a large extent.

Number of Players: 3 – 8 

Ages: 10+

Difficulty: Moderate

Length of Play: 20 – 30 minutes

Category: Rummy-type card game

Similar to: Liverpool Rummy, Continental, Shanghai Rummy, Conquian

Main Objective: Combine your cards in melds, get rid of them, and earn fewer points than your opponents to win this game.

Why We Love It: Contract Rummy is an exciting variation on classic Rummy that allows you to show off your advanced skills but doesn’t scare away complete beginners, either.

Related: 5 player card games

What You’ll Need to Play Contract Rummy

Contract Rummy requires two classic decks of 52 playing cards. Leave the Jokers in the decks as well. Normally, you will need four for the game (= 108 playing cards in total).

However, some players like to use one Joker less than the number of players (i.e., if five players play, use four Jokers, etc.).

If you want to play with more players (5+), try adding another deck of cards or even two. But keep in mind that this may make the gameplay significantly longer.

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Contract Rummy Rules and Gameplay

Contract Rummy will undoubtedly feel familiar if you know classic Rummy or any of its close alternatives. But most of the beginners can learn the game very quickly too.

I think the game’s dynamic is the best when played with four players. The gameplay is organized into seven rounds, each with specific goals to accomplish.

Starting the Game

Dealing cards in Contract Rummy has its specifics. The dealer shuffles the cards and then deals 10 to each player during rounds 1, 2, 3, and 4 but 12 cards for the remaining rounds 5, 6, and 7.

Next, the dealer flips one more card from the top of the deck and lays it on the table as a foundation of the discard pile

The player sitting to the left of the dealer opens the first round. Remember that throughout the game, the players aim to score the least amount of points (they work as penalty points). 

Now let’s shed some light on the melds, which represent the ultimate goal of each Contract Rummy round.

What Melds Are Required in Each Round?

If you’re entirely new to the rummy-style games, you should know that melds are certain combinations you are allowed (or even required) to form to get rid of your cards.

In Contract Rummy, there are two different types of card melds you can create:

  • Sets: Three or more cards of the same ranking (e.g., three fives or four sevens)
  • Sequences (also known as runs): Three or more cards of consecutive order in the same suit (e.g., five, six, and seven of hearts).

In each of the seven game rounds, the players are obliged to fulfill certain prescribed schemes of melds. Here’s the chart with the requirements:

  1. Round: 2 sets 
  2. Round: 1 set + 1 sequence
  3. Round: 2 sequences
  4. Round: 3 sets
  5. Round: 2 sets + 1 sequence
  6. Round: 1 set + 2 sequences
  7. Round: 3 sequences 

You aim to finish the game with empty hands in the last round.

You can use a Joker to replace any missing card to form a valid set or sequence. However, each set must contain at least two and sequence at least three “normal” cards.

How to Play Contract Rummy

Now that you know your goals let’s discuss how to reach them. This is how the standard turn in Contract Rummy should look:

  • A player starts by drawing one card from the draw pile or the top of the discard pile
  • If they go for the draw pile, all the other players can take the discard pile card, even if it’s not their turn. However, they must also draw one more card from the draw pile, which is why this is called buying.
  • Once the player picks a card, they can form a meld, if possible. Their first meld, however, has to fulfill the requirements of the round (see above).
  • Melds are placed face-up on the table in front of the respective player and remain in this place for the rest of the round.
  • Whether the player can or cannot make a meld, they must end each turn by discarding one card on the discard pile. 
  • The players take turns in a clockwise direction.

When a player has already fulfilled the requirement for the given round (melded two sets in the first round, for example), they can start adding cards to their or others players’ melds.

The ultimate goal is to get rid of all the cards (or at least as many as possible) since any cards left in the player’s hands when the round is over mean penalty points.

The round ends when one of the players discards (or melds) their last card.

After each round, players count their scores (see below). In the next round, the role of the dealer moves to the left, as does the role of the starting player. 

Contract Rummy Scoring 

When the round ends, the players will count their scores based on the cards left in their hands. Here’s an overview of how many points is each card in the game worth:

  • Aces and Jokers = 15 points 
  • 2-10 = Face value of the card
  • King, Queen, and Jack = 10 points 

The game continues until the seventh round is over. Then everyone counts their total scores. The player with the LOWEST score wins the game.

How to Play Contract Rummy – Video Tutorial 

Contract Rummy Frequently Asked Questions

Is Contract Rummy a game of skill or luck?

Like any other card game, Contract Rummy depends, to some extent, on luck and chance, but in the end, a player can usually make a difference with their skills and tactics.

How are cards ranked in Contract Rummy?

Twos are considered the lowest cards, whereas aces are the highest cards in this game. When you’re forming sequences, you must follow this ranking. 

What is the penalty if you draw from a discard pile in Contract Rummy? 

If you draw a card from the discard pile out of turn, you must “buy” this card by taking one more from the draw deck. But if you’re on your turn, there is no penalty for this.

Other Similar Games to Contract Rummy (Our Guides) 

There are many great rummy-type card games you should try if you’ve enjoyed playing Contract Rummy. Check out our guides to some of the alternatives below:

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