21 Card Rummy Game: A Brief Introduction

Once you have mastered 10 card rummy and 13 card rummy, you are ready to move on to the big leagues. You now have the experience to take on 21 card rummy, the king of all rummy versions. Without a doubt, it is one of the most challenging types of rummy. Each round takes a lot of time, patience, and strategizing. If you are new to the world of rummy, then you had better not start with 21 card rummy. A lot of rules, nuances, and tips need to be kept in mind to triumph in 21 card rummy. 

Not much is known about the origin of 21 cards rummy. Its ancestor, like all other variants of rummy, is conquain. It is possibly descended from points rummy because the same format is followed for 21 card rummy.

Since rummy is now online and has quickly evolved to become one of India’s most-loved online games, you can play 21 cards rummy on virtual sports apps as well. But, before you dabble in 21 card rummy, you should learn a little more about this thrilling but challenging card game.

How to play 21 Card Rummy?

Each player is dealt 21 cards at random. Now, these cards have to be arranged following specific rules to win a round of 21 card rummy. There are several ways you can arrange your 21 cards to win:

1) Three pure sequences (three or more consecutive cards of the same suit without a Joker) and the remaining cards into any combination of sets and sequences.
2) Eight Jokers in one group
3) Eight dublees (a dublee is a pair of two cards of the same rank and suit or two Jokers) in eight different groups
4) 3 tunnelas (a tunnela is three cards of the same rank and suit) in three different groups

So, you see, winning a round of 21 card rummy is much more complicated than say, 13 card rummy, where you just have to form two sequences (at least one pure sequence) and the remaining cards need to be melded into any number of sets and sequences.

Jokers are used in 21 cards rummy. After all the players have been dealt their cards, the topmost card from the facedown stack (closed deck) is designated as the Joker. All the cards of the same rank from all four suits also become Jokers. These are Sterling Jokers. There will also be three printed Jokers (one from each deck). These Jokers are Cut Jokers. All of these Jokers can take the place of any missing card while forming valid sets and sequences.

There are also Upper Jokers and Lower Jokers. Suppose, 6 of Hearts is your Sterling Joker. If you have 5 of Clubs and 7 of Clubs, then 5 of Clubs is your Lower Joker and 7 of Clubs is your Upper Joker. If you get a Joker (of the same suit) as well as an Upper Joker and a Lower Joker, then you will form what is called Marriage. In 21 cards rummy, you win points. Each Marriage will earn you 100 points. Remember, in 21 cards rummy, your score can’t go below 120 points or you would be disqualified.

21 Cards Rummy Rules

The rules of 21 card rummy games are similar to the usual Indian rummy games, however, there are some dissimilarities in declaring the cards. The following are the rules of 21 card rummy game that you must know before playing the game:

  • In 21 cards rummy, you need to create at least 3 pure sequences and the remaining cards can feature combinations of valid sets or sequences. A tunnela is also treated as a pure sequence in this game. The term is referred to three cards of the same suit, having the same series. For instance, 333 is a valid tunnela in 21 cards rummy.
  • Kindly note that you must make at least 3 tunnelas of separate groups, and the remaining cards can be combined in a single group or even left unchanged.
  • In the 21-card rummy, the dublee is a set of two cards having the same rank and suit, like 9♣ 9♣. Eight dublees are equivalent to three pure sequences and you can leave the remaining cards. Remember that each of these pairs is arranged in individual groups during the declaration.
  • You can have 8 jokers in a single group during declaration. You can avoid arranging them in a specific order.

How Does Drop Work in 21 Cards Rummy

While playing rummy, the drop is a crucial step as it helps in playing safe. The following are the steps to be kept in mind during 21 cards rummy:

The 21 cards rummy game gives all the players options to drop out. However, dropping out at different levels have various impacts. There following are the types of drops available in rummy:

First drop - The first drop is when a challenger decides to drop even before picking or discarding cards, in the very first round. This brings a penalty of 30 points to the player.

Middle drop - The middle drop in a rummy game is when the player picks one or more cards and then decides to drop. In such a case, the player gets a penalty of 70 points.


21 card rummy or Indian marriage rummy is played with three decks. Each deck has the standard 52 cards categorized into four suits - Diamonds, Clubs, Spades, and Hearts. There is one printed Joker in each deck.

A minimum of two to a maximum of six players can participate in 21 card rummy.

Calculating Scores in 21 Cards Rummy

The score calculation in this game is quite different compared to usual Indian rummy games. Irrespective of winning and losing, the players who do not drop also get a chance to earn positive points for the value cards, whereas negative points if the value cards are held by opponents.

Here, the value cards are the Joker card (upper joker and lower joker), picked during the inception of the game. If you have a single card of the same suit joker/ up joker/ down joker, the points will be 10, and the same for two cards and three cards will be 30 and 50 respectively.

If you have one joker of each type, that is the same suit, upper joker and lower joker, then it is called a Jackpot or Marriage. The player with Jackpot gets 100 points from other participants who haven’t dropped. The maximum number of points that a player can lose in 21 cards rummy game is 120.


The following are the tips and tricks that help in being an expert on 21-card rummy:

1. Knowing the rules - The 21 cards rummy has specific rules that you must understand to make a valid declaration. Elements like tunnelas, dublees, etc. make the game easier and give more options for forming combinations.

2. Arranging the cards - As soon as the cards are dealt with, the prime thing is to arrange them according to the expected combinations. This gives you a better chance of keeping a track of which card you need to pick or discard. This helps in creating useful combinations and avoiding waste of time.

3. Create pure sequences as early as possible - The first step that takes you towards forming a valid declaration is making pure sequences as early as possible. Check the cards in your hand and try to combine consecutive cards of the same suit.

4. Try to keep smart cards in your hand - There are some numbers that can be added in different combinations. For instance, if you have 6 of a suit, it can be combined with 4,5,6 or 5,6,7, or even 6,7,8. Such cards help in creating different kinds of combinations and are known as smart cards.


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So, go on and 
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  • How do you play the card game rummy 21? Arrow
    The game is quite similar to the classic Indian rummy game. In this game, each player gets 21 cards and they need to create at least 3 pure sequences and other combinations of valid sets or sequences. The players can also create tunnela which is treated as a pure sequence in 21 cards rummy.
  • Is rummy the same as 21? Arrow
    No, the rules for playing classic rummy and 21 rummy card game are different.
  • What is a joker in 21 card game? Arrow
    Joker is referred to as a value card in the 21 rummy card game. If a player possesses a single card of the same suit joker/ up joker/ down joker, they will get 10 points, and the same for two cards and three cards is 30 and 50 respectively.
  • How much is Joker worth in 21? Arrow
    Joker is the value card in 21 rummy and has a worth of 10 points.
  • How do you play the card game marriage? Arrow
    Marriage or Jackpot in 21 cards rummy is when a player possesses a joker of each type, that is the same suit joker, upper joker and lower joker. The player who has the Jackpot gets 100 points from all the participants who haven’t dropped.


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