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How to Play Shanghai Rummy: Rules and Game Instructions

Shanghai is a rummy type game with specific entry melds for two to four players. It requires two decks of standard playing cards, including Jokers, and is suitable for ages 12 and up.

In Shanghai, Aces are either high or low depending on what the player wants it to be.

The objective of Shanghai Rummy is to be the first player to go out and to have the fewest points.

Shanghai Rummy Rules

Set Up

To set up a game of Shanghai Rummy, players need to form a circle around a stable playing area. Before gameplay can begin, every player must draw a card from a shuffled deck. The player with the highest card becomes the first dealer. Ties are broken by a redraw.

The dealer then shuffles the decks and passes out eleven cards, one by one, clockwise to each player. The remaining cards form the stock. The top card of the stock is then flipped over and placed to the side to form the discard pile.


A meld is a group cards of the same rank, or of the same suit in an increasing sequence. Melds of the same rank are called sets. Melds in sequence are called runs. Melds must begin with at least three cards. After a meld is formed, it is communal and other players can build upon them until it has seven cards.


In Shanghai, Jokers are wildcards. They can be used in place of any card. A meld must, however, have more natural cards than wildcards.

Card Values

In Shanghai:

2s through 9s are 5 points.

10s through Kings are 10 points.

Aces are 15 points.

Jokers are 20 points.

How to Play Shanghai Rummy

Gameplay moves clockwise, starting with the player left of the dealer. To begin their turn, a player can either draw from the stock pile or discard pile. They then try to meld off their cards.

The first meld in each of the 10 rounds is different with increasing difficulty. Players must complete the required first meld before they can meld off their other cards.

The following are the first meld combinations for each round:

  • Round 1: Two sets of 3 cards
  • Round 2: One set of 3 cards and one run of 4 cards
  • Round 3: Two runs of 4 cards
  • Round 4: Three sets of 3 cards
  • Round 5: Two sets of 3 cards and one run of 4 cards
  • Round 6: One set of 3 cards and two runs of 4 cards
  • Round 7: Three runs of 4 cards
  • Round 8: One set of 3 cards and one run of 10 cards
  • Round 9: Three sets of 3 cards and one run of 5 cards
  • Round 10: Three runs of 5 cards


If a player not taking their turn wants the card in the discard pile, they may buy the card. Buying the card means they take it along with two cards from the stock.

More than one player wants to buy the card, precedent goes clockwise from the player taking their turn. A player can only buy three cards in a game.

Going Out

Once a player makes the first meld combination for the round, they begin to try and meld off all of their cards. Once they have no more cards, they are out, scores are tallied, cards are shuffled, and the next round begins.


Once a round ends, scores are tallied by the value of the cards still in a player’s hand. The player that went out gets 0 points for the round. The player with the fewest points after 10 rounds wins the game.

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