Step by step instructions on how to play Rummikub board game. This title, originally released in 1977, masterfully blends even older games Dominos and the card game Rummy. It is so good it even won a Spiel des Jahres, the most prestigious board game award given out each year. There is no theme here, it is all about player versus player strategy reminiscent of the centuries-old ancient classics. This is our definitive step-by-step guide on how to play Rummikub.

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Be the first player to eliminate all the tiles from your rack by forming them into sets of runs and groups (like in the card game Rummy). Try to keep as few points in your rack as possible. A classic and award-winning strategy game that has no theme. The actual learning of how to play Rummikub is not difficult, it is learning when to do what when.


Time Needed: Approximately 60 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Rummikub the popular tile-laying strategy board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Put Tiles in Pouch
To kick off how to play Rummikub setup, take the 106 tiles and put them in the included sack. Shake it up to make sure pieces are adequately shuffled.

2. SETUP | Determine Start Player
Each player grabs one tile from the sack. Whoever’s tile has the highest point total gets to go first. Return the chosen pieces back to the sack and give it another shake.

3. SETUP | Draw Starting Tiles
All players need to draw 14 tiles from the sack to form their starting hand. Take the tiles from the pre-shuffled sack and place them on one of the included tile racks like you would see in Scrabble.

4. GAMEPLAY | Starting Player Places Tiles
To kick off the gameplay portion of how to play Rummikub we talk about what you do on your turn. You are able to make all the moves you could possible want to make, as long as you have the option. To place a valid move, you need a “run” or a “group” of three or more tiles A run is three in a row of the same color and a group is 3 of the same number that are all different colors. These can be played from your hand or it can be a combination of your hand and shifting things around on the board so all the groups and runs are still valid. If a person cannot make a move, they must take a unknown tile from the sack and pass their turn.

*Each player’s initial move has to be at least 30 points (based on the value of the tiles) or they cannot play and need to draw a random tile from the sack.

How To Play Rummikub Splitting a Run Rules

5. GAMEPLAY | Next Player Goes and Repeat
Once a player has taken their turn, the move goes to the player clockwise of that player. They repeat playing whatever they want/can from their hand or take a tile if they cannot play anything. This continues until the game ends.

6. ROUND ENDS | When A Player Empties Their Tray
The goal is to empty your tray as quickly as possible but this does not mean you win. If you are the one to do it, you are going to get points based on what the other players have in their tray. For more details, please see the Scoring section below.

7. WINNING | High Score Wins
Rummikub is usually played over many different rounds. When that many predetermined rounds have been played, everyone tallys up their total from all the rounds combined. The player with the highest score is the winner.



There is a time limit of 2 minutes per player, per turn. A player who goes over the time limit must draw a tile from the pouch and his turn ends.


A player who unsuccessfully builds on or manipulates other sets on the table must replace the tiles in their original positions, take back the tiles he played and draw three tiles from the pouch.


A player may build onto a set in any of the following ways (or in any combination of these ways) as long as there are only legitimate sets on the table and there are no loose tiles left at the end of his turn. An important thing to note when learning how to play Rummikub.


There are two jokers in the game. They can be used for any tile in a set. A joker used in the opening set scores the value of the tiles it represents. A joker can be retrieved from a set on the table by a player who can replace it during his turn with a tile of the same numerical value and color it represents. The tile used to replace the Joker must come from a player’s rack and not from the table.

How To Play Rummikub Joker


Learning how to play Rummikub is easy but mastering the strategy is not. The beginning of a round of Rummikub may seem slow, but as the table builds up, more plays are possible. In the early stages of the game it’s a good idea to hold back some tiles so that other players open up the table and provide more opportunities for play.

Sometimes it is useful to hold back the fourth tile of a group or run and lay only three, so that on the next turn you can lay a tile instead of drawing from the pouch. Keeping a joker on your rack is also a good strategy; however, you risk being caught with it (earning a penalty of 30 points) when another player goes “Rummikub”.


After a player has cleared the rack and called “Rummikub”, the losing players add up the value of the tiles they are holding on their racks. This score is totaled as a minus (negative) amount. The winner of the round receives a positive (plus) score equal to the total of all the losers’ points. At the end of each round, each player totals his minus and plus scores to produce a total score. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins. As an aid to checking the figures, the plus score should equal the total of the minus scores in each round and in the final tally.

In the rare case that all the tiles in the pouch are used before any players goes “Rummikub”, the player with the lowest count on his rack wins that round. Each loser adds up his total tile value and subtracts from it with the winner’s total. This result is scored as a minus amount. The total of these is scored to the winner as a plus amount. After scoring the round, place all the tiles back in the pouch, and begin the next round by following directions under set-up.


  • 106x Tiles (2x sets of 1 to 13 in 4 colors, 2x jokers)
  • 1x Tile Sack
  • 4x Player Racks
  • 1x Rule Sheet


We hope you can now say you know how to play Rummikub. This award-winning abstract strategy game is easy to learn but very difficult to master. The game makers have done a wonderful job of blending Rummy and Dominoes, which turns out, makes for an amazing mix.

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