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21 Card Rummy Rules

How to play 21 Card Points Rummy Online 

  • Each player is dealt with 21 cards
  • A cut joker is randomly selected and placed face up while the remaining pile of cards is kept face down
  • When the turn comes, each player has their cards auto-sorted and then begin by drawing and discarding a card. At the same time they can choose to re-sort as they desire.
  • A player can pick a card from either the Closed Deck or the Discarded Pile
  • The game progresses in a similar manner until any of the players declares and completes the melding/ grouping process
  • A declarer whose cards are valid according to the validation rules defined will be the winner
  • In event of an incorrect declaration, the declarer will be penalised with maximum points
  • The other players who are playing the game, then proceed to meld their cards. Their cards are validated and the points of all other players are calculated as per the 21 Cards Rummy points system.

The objective of 21 cards rummy

In 21 cards rummy, you must arrange all your cards into valid sequences and/or sets. But, there are some very specific rules.
Declaration: Any winning hand must consist of one or combination of the following up on declaration:

Three pure sequences (three or more consecutive cards of the same suit without a joker) and the remaining cards arranged in any combination of sequences and/or sets

21 cards 3 pure sequences2. Eight jokers in one group

21 cards 8 jokers in group3. Eight dublees (a dublee is a pair of two cards of the same rank and suit or two jokers) in eight different groups

21 cards 8 dublees4. Three tanalas (a tanala is three cards of the same rank and suit) in three different groups

21 cards 3 tanalas

5. Two marriage groups in hand (a marriage is a combination of Lower joker (Taplu), Cut-joker (Sterling) and Upper Joker (Paplu) of the same suit OR presented as 3 Lower jokers and/ or 3 Upper jokers. However, they need to be presented as a group to be valid.


 21 cards 2 marriage hands

The jokers in 21 cards rummy -

  • Cut-joker/ Sterling:
    Once all the players have been dealt their cards, the remaining cards are placed upside down. From this stack, a random card is removed and placed face-up. This card is also designated as the cut joker/ sterling joker.

  • Upper joker/ Paplu/ Upplu and Lower joker/ Taplu/ Nichlu:
    There will also be an upper joker and a lower joker.
    The card of the same suit as the cut-joker and one rank above is the upper joker.
    The card of the same suit as the cut-joker and one rank below is the lower joker
    In 21 cards rummy, these jokers are value cards and carry penalty points.

 Lower upper joker

  • Printed joker/ Funtoosh:
    The 3 extra cards, 1 per card deck, with a face of Joker printed on them is the Funtoosh. A Funtoosh can be used to complete sequences and/ or sets. Funtoosh cards are value cards and carry penalty points.


How are points calculated in 21 cards rummy?

To help you understand the points system better, we have prepared a table:

21 cards points calculation

  • Marriage hand:

If you possess all three value cards – Paplu, Taplu and Sterling cards, then you will have a marriage hand and/ or jackpot. This will earn you 100 points minimum from each of the other participants, except the ones who have been dropped out in their first chance.

Marriage hand

This is a marriage hand, it can also be considered as a pure sequence.

If ACE is the cut-joker, King-Ace-Two of the same suit is considered a marriage hand, but NOT a pure sequence. 

  • Ace of Spades and 2 of Clubs:
    There are other value cards in 21 card rummy as well. Ace of Spades and 2 of Clubs are in hand, they become value cards and carry penalty points. These cards are not used as jokers unless they are the sterling joker, upper joker or lower joker respectively.Ace of spades and 2 of clubs


Some actions will incur you values penalties and points in 21 cards rummy. Please read through the below carefully -


  • Single-pack/ Initial-drop/ First-drop: Players who fold their hand on their first turn itself will pay a point penalty of 30 pts. In addition to this, the player will also pay ‘the declarer’ of the game all value penalties they show at time of declaration. In return, a folding player is eligible to receive up-to 2 values or 40 value points maximum.

  • Double-pack/ Middle-drop/ Second-drop: Players who fold their hand anytime after playing their respective first turn will pay a point penalty of 60 pts. In addition to this, the player will pay ‘all players’ on the game all value penalties they show at time of declaration. In return, a folding player is also eligible to receive all value penalties they have except from Initial-drop’ players.

  • Incorrect game declaration OR Table exit: If any player who declares a game incorrectly and/ OR; any player exits the table during gameplay - the point penalty incurred is 120 pts. In addition to this value penalties from other players will be paid and receivable per actuals.
    Please note: In this case, the Initial-drop player will not be liable to pay Points or Value penalty to any player.

  • Only Winner, no declarer: Once the game starts and all players fold one after another, the last player to play becomes default winner. Players are eligible to receive only a Point penalty of 30 pts from the dropping players, Values points are not applicable here.

  • The maximum combined penalty applicable is capped at 250 pts* per game (* calculation based on multiplier of Rs.1 per point)

Important things to remember in 21 cards points rummy:

  • Ace of Spades and/ or 2 of Clubs
    • If either comes out as a Sterling joker, value points are counted as per Sterling points + Card Value points. Else they carry 20 points minimum
    • Both cards can be used as a Joker only if it is a Sterling or Paplu or Taplu
  • 8 Dublees have to be grouped as dublees and cannot be presented within Tanala groups. This will result as an invalid declaration and applicable penalty points will be due. 
  • Every player is allotted 30 secs per turn to play. An additional time bank of 30 secs for two consecutive turns after which they are dropped from the game and can incur a full hand penalty.
  • Unless you can form three pure sequences or valid card combinations mentioned earlier, at the end of the game, the points of all your cards, after excluding jokers and pure sequences made, will be counted with a maximum penalty of upto 250 pts for that hand.
  • Joker Tanala value points can be only counted if melded/ shown as a group
  • 3 Funtoosh cards can form a sequence or a set but not a tanala
  • Discarded Funtoosh, Sterling Joker, Paplu, Taplu cannot be picked and used by the next player

  • All value cards other than the sterling joker are allotted 20 points minimum. 
  • Once a participant declares on the very first turn, all the other participants who haven’t had their turn will give a penalty of 60 points + the points of the value cards.
  • Except for the single pack participants, all other participants are assigned value cards points.

Non-Declarers in 21 cards rummy

  • Normal set: A non-declarer will be assigned the penalty of incomplete cards/ groups + value points as applicable with a max penalty of 250 pt in a game

  • 3 Tanalas/ 8 Jokers/ 8 Dublees: If you are a non-declarer and have either three tanalas and/ or eight jokers and/ or eight dublees in hand, then can declare with minimum penalty of 2 points + the points penalties of value cards from other players as applicable.

  • 7 Dublees: If you have seven dublees, then you will get a penalty of 2 points + the points of value cards. Seven dublees is not considered a valid declaration.

  • 7 Jokers: Seven jokers in hand do not qualify as free hand if you lose the game or decide to double pack, it will result in a full hand penalty.

  • Two marriage sets will form a free hand, you will get a penalty of 2 points only. But, it is compulsory to present marriage hands as groups.

A few tips to help you win

Here we will list a few simple strategies that can increase your chances of winning a 21 cards rummy game

  • Keep the cards that you have arranged into valid sequences and/or sets together. The unmatched cards should be kept separate. This way, you will clearly know which cards you need to discard or focus on to create new sequences and/or sets.
  • Unless you can arrange the high-value cards (Ace, Jack, Queen, and King) into sequences and/or sets, discard them. They will bring you unnecessary points if you are not able to use them in the first few turns.
  • If your opponents are drawing cards from the open deck, then try to guess their game plan. This will give you a hint to which cards they need to form sequences and/or sets. And, if you have those cards, try not to give those to them.
  • Hold on to the useful cards. For example, a 5 from any suit can be used to form sequences and/or sets with 6 and 7 or 4 and 6 or 3 and 4. 
  • Play a few Practice games with free chips given to you. You won’t lose any money and you will get to improve your rummy skills and knowledge. 

So, these are the basic rules of 21 cards rummy. They will seem complicated at first. But, keep practicing until you are able to grasp the game better, learn rummy tips and you too can participate at a competitive level.