Shanghai Rummy Rules

While there are seemingly a lot of rules in this game, fear not, there will be a lot of hints that will remind you what to do next when playing. You can download rules in a pdf file for offline viewing here

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  • You need a minimum of 2 players. 3-6 players is the ideal size.
  • 2-6 players = 2 decks, incl. jokers.
  • 7-8 players = 3 decks, incl. jokers.

Start or Join

  • Start the game by entering your name. You'll be given a link to share with your friends.
  • If you received the link from your friend, join the game by entering your name.
  • The game can be stopped and continued at any point.
  • Register your account to resume games at a later date and on different devices.
  • While not necessary, audio call with your friends while playing is fun. In the future you'll be able to have one directly in the game.


  • There are a total of 11 rounds.
  • Each round is a different combination of sets and runs. (see: sets and runs).
  • Each round gets progressively more difficult.

Round progression

  1. Two Sets
  2. One Set & One Run
  3. Two Runs
  4. Three Sets
  5. Two Sets & One Run
  6. Two Runs & One Set
  7. Three Runs
  8. Three Sets & One Run
  9. Three Runs & One Set
  10. Four Sets
  11. Four Runs

The goal & scoring

  • Your goal is to have the least points at the end of 11 rounds.
  • Each card is worth its face value.
  • Face cards are 10 points.
  • Aces are 20 points.
  • Jokers and wilds (see: wild cards) are 50 points.


  • Each player gets 11 cards for the first 9 rounds, 13 cards for the last 2.
  • Remaining cards go into the ‘draw’ pile.
  • Dealer flips the top card from the draw pile to create the ‘discard’ pile.

Direction of play

  • Top to bottom, or clockwise if you’re playing irl.
  • The player directly below (or to the left, irl) of the dealer starts the game.

Your turn

  • When it’s your turn you must take/draw a new card + discard a card.
  • You have the option of taking the card from the ‘discard’ pile or drawing from the ‘draw’ pile.
  • If you have the cards needed to form the sets/runs needed for the round, you can ‘lay down’ (see: laying down).
  • Once you’ve laid down, if others have also already laid down, you can build on their sets/runs with your extra cards, a.k.a. ‘laying off’ (see: laying off).
  • Once you’re done laying down/off, discard 1 card to the discard pile.


  • Each player has the option to ‘buy’ a card 3x per round to help complete their sets or runs (see: sets and runs).
  • If it isn’t your turn but you want the card in the discard pile, you can ask to ‘buy’.
  • The active player and every player ahead of you has first dibs on that card.
  • If no players ahead of you want the card, the active player clicks ‘allow to buy’, giving you the card you wanted + 1 card from the draw pile, a.k.a. the payment.
  • Once you’ve laid down, you can no longer buy.

Wild cards

  • Jokers (☺☆) and 2 of clubs (2♣) are wild cards and can be used in place of any card.
  • You must have a minimum of 2 non-wild cards to complete a set or run.
  • In a run, wild cards cannot touch, e.g. ace + joker + queen + joker = good. ace + joker + joker + jack = nope.


  • A set is 3 or more cards of the same rank in any suit.
  • A set must include a minimum of 2 non-wild cards, e.g. one 3♥ + 2 jokers does not a set make.

Valid Sets:

Valid Set 1Valid Set 2
regular setset with one
wild joker
Valid Set 3
set with one
wild 2 of clubs

Invalid Sets:

Invalid Set 1Invalid Set 2
set must have
minimum 2
non-wilds cards
all cards must
be the same rank
Invalid Set 3
can't place multiple
wild cards next
to each other


  • A run is 4 cards in a row of the same suit.
  • A run must include a minimum of 2 non-wild cards, e.g. 4♥, joker, 6♥, joker.
  • Ace can be high or low, but cannot wrap, e.g. two, ace, king, and queen of hearts is not a run.
  • A run can be as long as you have consecutive cards of the same suit available.

Valid Runs:

Valid Run 2Valid Run 1
regular run
with ace as 1
run with one wild card

Invalid Runs:

Invalid Run 1Invalid Run 1
can't wrap
from king to 2
can't place multiple
wild cards next
to each other

Laying Down

  • When you have the cards needed to form the sets and runs needed for the round, you are ready to lay down.
  • You can only lay down the number or sets/runs required for the round; extra sets/runs are not allowed.
  • If someone has already laid down using a wild card(s) and you have the card(s) to replace the wild(s), you can exchange your card for wild. You can only exchange for wilds if you are ready to lay down.

Laying Off

  • Once you’ve laid down, the only way to get rid of your remaining cards to get to zero (i.e. the goal) is to discard or lay off.
  • Laying off is building on the set/runs of others who have also laid down.
  • You can lay off by exchanging for wilds and redeploying that wild to build on a run.

Dead Cards

  • A card in the discard pile is considered ‘dead’ the second the next player draws from the draw pile.
  • You can no longer take/buy a ‘dead’ card - sorry, the ship has sailed, train has left the station, dead, dead, dead.

End of Round

  • Once one player has reached zero cards, the round is over.
  • The cards left in your hand are added to your total points.
  • Remember, the goal is to have the least points at the end of 11 rounds, so the lower your score the better.

Start New Game

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