Rummikub Rules and Instructions

This guide will explain all the Rummikub rules, including game setup, scoring, and everything else to know to enjoy playing Rummikub. 

Rummikub has been sold more than 50 million times and is easily one of the world’s most popular games. 

Rummikub is a 2 to 4 person game that uses tiles, is easy to learn, and is fast-paced. The game is great for kids and adults alike and requires planning and making patterns to win. 

Key highlights to this Rummikub rules guide:

  • What is Rummikub?
  • Rummikub rules
  • Rummikub scoring
  • How to play Rummikub (Video Tutorial)

Continue reading to learn how to play Rummikub and step-by-step gameplay instructions. 

What is Rummikub?

Rummikub Game Info image

Rummikub, also known as Rummikid, is a 2-4 player game which uses tiles and is similar to the card game, Rummy, and the classic game, Mahjong (see Mahjong rules and Mahjong strategies). 

Each player then takes turns to make patterns that will score them points in hopes of having a positive score at the end of the game. 

Number of Players: 2-4

Ages: 8 +

Difficulty: Medium

Length of Play: 15-20 Minutes

Similar to: Rummy, Mahjong, Dominoes, Phase 10

Main Objective: Be the first to eliminate all the tiles on your rack by creating runs and sets. 

Why We Love It: It has the feel of a card game but uses tiles! 

Rummikub Tray with tiles Image

A Brief History of Rummikub

Rummikub was created by Ephriam Hertzano in the 1950s. He wanted to create a game that would use tiles rather than cards. He started selling Rummikub to neighbors and in small local shops in Israel. By 1977, Rummikub was a best-seller in the United States. 

Over the years, there were three different versions of the game: American, Sabra, and International. Today, only the Sabra version is marketed and sold. 

Rummikub is sold in over 70 countries and has been translated into over 28 languages.

What You’ll Need to Play Rummikub

Everything you need to play Rummikub is in the box, which contains the following components:

  • 106 Tiles 
  • 4 Playing Racks
  • Pouch
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Setting Up Rummikub

  • Put the tiles in the pouch and mix them up. 
  • Each player should pick a tile. The person with the highest number will go first. 
  • Put the tiles back in the pouch and mix them up. 
  • Give each player a rack. 
  • Each player will pull 14 tiles from the pouch and put them on their rack. 
  • Agree upon an amount of points that should be reached to end the game. 

Rummikub Rules and Gameplay

  • Player 1 will make a set and play it on the table. Play will continue around the table in a clockwise direction. 
  • If a player chooses not to make a play, they will get a new tile from the pouch and add it to their rack. Play will then pass to the next player. 
  • Once all players have made their first play, you may start adding to what is already on the table. 
  • If you cannot add to what is on the table, you should get a new tile from the pouch. Play will move to the next player. You cannot lay down a tile that you have just picked from the pouch; you must wait until your next turn. 
  • Play continues until a player has used all of the tiles on their rack. When a player has used all of their tiles, they should call “Rummikub,” and all players will count their points. This ends the round. 
  • Record the number of points for each player and return the tiles to the pouch. 
  • Continue gameplay until the agreed-upon amount of points has been met. 

Two Kinds of Sets

  • A group is 3-4 tiles of the same number but different colors. 
  • A run is 3 or more tiles of consecutive numbers and is all the same color. 

How to Build on a Set

There are several ways to build on a set that has already been played:

  • You can add tiles to a group or a run that has already been played. 
  • You can take a tile from a group of 4 and use it in a new run. 
  • You can add a tile from a group and remove a tile of a different color from that same group to create a new run. 
  • You can split a run to make two runs. For example, if there is a run of 1, 2, 3, 4, and you have another 3 and a 5, you can make it 1, 2, 3 and 3, 4, 5. 
  • You can split multiple sets. 

The Joker

There are 2 Jokers. A Joker can be used in place of any other tile. The first time a Joker is used, it is counted as the original number tile it was used for. Jokers can be replaced any time after the initial round. 

When replacing a Joker, you must use the tile that should have been there originally, and the tile must come from your rack and not from somewhere else on the table. If you replace the joker, you must use it during the same turn in a set of 2 or more other tiles. 

Rummikub Tiles Image

Rummikub Scoring

  • After a round is completed, count the amount of points left on the rack for each “losing” player. 
  • Add each “losing” player’s score and change it to a positive to get a positive score for the “winning” player. 
  • Each tile is worth its face value. So a 7 is worth 7 points, a 13 is worth 13 points, and so on. 
  • Jokers are worth the face value of whatever tile it is replacing. 
  • For players who do not win the round, Jokers left on a rack at the end of the round are a deduction of 30 points. 
  • The player with the highest number of points won that round. The player with the highest number of points at the end of the game wins the game. 

How to Win Rummikub

The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins. 

Other Rummikub Rules

  • 1 can only be played as the lowest number. It cannot go after 13. 
  • Initial sets must be at least 30 points from the player’s rack and not from something already on the table. 
  • If the pouch empties before someone empties their rack, keep playing until no more plays can be made. Once no more plays can be made, the round is over. 
  • If no one empties their rack and there are no more tiles in the bag, the player with the fewest points on their rack is the winner of the round. 
  • Each player has a 2 minute time limit to make a play. 
  • If a player makes a run that is not correct, they must take their tiles back and draw 3 more tiles from the pouch. 
  • You cannot retrieve a Joker until you have laid at least one set. 

How to Play Rummikub – Video Tutorial

Rummikub Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rummikub good for your brain?

Yes! Rummikub involves using your working memory to make sure you know what is on your tile rack and what has already been played. It is also good for your focus because you have to be able to pay close attention to what the other players are playing so you know what has been played and what you can play. 

Why is it called Rummikub? 

When it was first released, Rummikub was called Rummikid because it was based on the card game, Rummy. Eventually, the name was changed to Rummikub instead of Rummikid. 

What age is Rummikub for? 

Rummikub is recommended for ages 8 and up. 

Alternative Games to Rummikub

Phase 10 is a good alternative to Rummikub. Like Rummikub, Phase 10 was based on the card game Rummy and involves creating runs and sets of numbers to win the game. 

Mahjong is another game that involves using tiles to make patterns and requires a good strategy to win.

Are you still looking for more tabletop game options? Then be sure to check our guide to bagatelle game rules.

If you are looking for more fun game options check out our guide for Quiddler rules.

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Read all the articles (69) written by Andrea Huguley