Rummy Trivia


Origin of Rummy

Many theories have been associated with the origin of Rummy card games.

The Mexican-Conquian Theory

  • The game of Rummy is said to have evolved from Conquian, a Spanish card game, dating back to mid-1800s.
  • In late 19th century, the game crossed the Mexican border and travelled all the way to the south-western parts of the United States of America.
  • It was popularly known by the name of Coon-Can, Coon-King or Conkin.
  • Later on, the game journeyed to England, where it got the name 'Rum'.

The Poker theory

  • Another theory traces Rummy's origin to Poker, evolving in the New World by the French.
  • Both Poker and Rummy share certain alikeness regarding their concepts of Sets and Sequences.
  • John Scarne, one of the world's most favourite card wizard, and author to popular books on cards and gambling, believed that Rummy evolved from a game known as 'Whiskey Poker', which gradually came to be known as 'Rum Poker' then 'Rum' and eventually 'Rummy'.

The Orient Origin theory

  • China is also believed by some, to be the birthplace of Rummy.
  • The two card games, 'Khanhoo' and 'Kon Khin' dating back to the 1800s have considerable similarities to Rummy and Poker.
  • Mahjong, a popular ancient Chinese game, played using dominos is also based on similar lines as of Rummy.

Theories behind the Name of the Game

Although, the origin of the name 'Rummy' is not certified by any facts, there are a few speculations around this too.

  • 'Rum Poker', a game with considerable alikeness to Rummy is often considered the ancestor to the family of Rummy games. Accordingly the name 'Rummy', as can be seen, is also an evolution from 'Rum Poker'.
  • The word 'Rum' is slang in Britain, used for 'odd' or 'peculiar'. It was possibly used for describing the game during the time of its inception.
  • 'Roemer' (pronounced as 'rummer') is a Dutch word for a drinking glass, which sailors used to carry. This may have evolved to 'Rum' and further to 'Rummy'.
  • There are also some people who believe that the game of Rummy was formerly played for the alcoholic drink, Rum. The loser was supposed to buy the next round of drinks for the table.
  • Another assumption states that Rummy may have derived its name from Europe (particularly pointing to France) as some of the early books spelled it as 'Rhummy' or 'Rhum'.

Rummy in India

  • Rummy and Poker game are the most popular card games in card rooms and households across India.
  • The Indian version, the 13 card Rummy is said to have flown from the United States of America.
  • The 13 card Rummy is considered a close relative of the Rummy variants, 500 Rummy and Gin Rummy.

Variants of Rummy

Rummy has a remarkably huge family of card games under its nose. Five of its popular variants are:

  • Rummy 500 - also known as Michigan Rum or Pinochle Rum, this is one of the earliest known games of the Rummy family to include scoring for sets.
  • Gin Rummy - devised in 1909 by a New York resident named Elwood T. Baker. It got the name Gin because its parent was named Rum (both alcoholic drinks). It became the most played two-hand card game.
  • Contract Rummy - also known by the names of Liverpool RummyKing Rummy or Zioncheck.
  • Canasta - another variant of Rummy originated in Uruguay. In Spanish, the word Canasta means basket. The tray on the table holding the closed deck and discard pile may have suggested this name.
  • Indian Marriage - is widely popular in India. It is also known by the name of 21-card rummy and is played with three or more deck of cards.
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