Kalooki is a card game that originates from the Caribbean. It is played with three to six players and a deck of cards. The game also includes all four deck jokers, making us unique.
Kalooki aims to have the lowest score by the end of the game, which you do by shedding your hand throughout the game.
If you have ever played the card game Rummy, you will already be familiar with some of the skills required to play this Kaluki card game. However, a lot of this game is determined by luck.
During this guide, I will talk you through everything you need to play the Kalooki card game, as well as tell you all about the general rules of the game, how to play, and, most importantly, how to score and win. I will also explain the card ranking, melds, and values.
So, the next time you want to introduce something new to game night, you’ll be fully equipped with all you need to know to teach your friends and family how to play Kalooki.
What You Need To Play Kalooki?
All you need to play a Kalooki or kaluki card game is a standard deck of 52 cards with the jokers left in. You will also need a pen or paper to keep score, or you could always use a mobile phone or iPad to do this instead. Lastly, you must ensure that you have a flat surface to play on.
Starting The Game
Before you begin the game, you will need to select a player to be the dealer. This person can be selected randomly, or it could be the group’s oldest or youngest player. After the first round, the person to the previous dealers left will deal for the next game.
In total, you will play nine rounds, depending on which round you are playing and how many cards will be dealt to each player. For example, in round one, the players are dealt 9 cards each; in round two, 10 cards, in round three, 11, and so on. In the ninth round, each player will be dealt 16 cards.
The dealer should shuffle the cards before dealing them out to each player, one at a time, face down. After the deal has taken place, one card should be turned face up, forming the start of the discard pile. The rest of the deck will be the stockpile.
Now, this is where it starts to get slightly more complicated. At the start of each round, minimum contracts must be made for each player to play down. These are a mixture of threes and fours. The contracts go up as the game continues. Below is a list of what you need for each round:
- Round One: 3 x Threes
- Round Two: 2 x Threes, 1 x Four
- Round Three: 2 x Fours, 1 x Three
- Round Four: 3 x Fours
- Round Five: 4 x Threes
- Round Six: 3 x Threes, 1 x Four
- Round Seven: 2 x Threes, 2 x Fours
- Round Eight: 1 x Three, 3 x Fours
- Round Nine: 4 x Fours
You should note these and familiarize yourself with them to save from slowing the game between rounds.
Card Ranking – Melds and Values
In Kalooki or kaluki, the Ace is the highest ranking card, before the King, then the Queen, and so on. However, Ace can also be used as the lowest card. You can’t use it to form a bridge, however, such as between a King and two.
The Jokers are used as wildcards, so they can be selected as any card of your choosing. I will talk more about the Jokers later.
At the end of each round, players with cards remaining in their hands will need to count how much they are worth in points and add them together. The point scoring is as follows:
- Jokers – 50 points
- Black Aces – 15 points
- Kinds/Queens/Jacks/10s – 10 points
- Twos to Nines – Face value
- Red Aces – 1 point
I also mentioned before that this card game includes melding. In Kalooki, the melds are names threes and fours. Threes; means three or more cards of the same rank, and fours; means four or more cards in successive order and matching suit.
I told you before that Jokers can be used as wildcards, well, this also means that they can be used in threes and fours, but there are limitations. For example, in a three, there already needs to be two cards of the same rank before you can use a joker. In a four, two jokers are not allowed to appear next to each other. Jokers can also not be discarded or removed from melds. However, they can move position in a four.
Rules & Gameplay
To begin the game, the player seated to the dealer’s left takes the first turn. They must then draw a card from the stockpile, or they can take a card from the discard pile if they haven’t already played a card down. Once a card has been drawn, the player must shed one of their cards onto the discard pile.
Occasionally, during another player’s turn, you get the opportunity to call for a card. This can happen when you still need to play down cards.
This means you can ask for the top discard card while they are at the drawing stage of their turn. It’s up to the other player whether or not they accept your request. However, they can only say yes if they still need to play down cards.
Should the player whose turn it allows it, then you must now take the top card from the stockpile and the discard pile, meaning you now have two extra cards in your hand. The other player then continues their turn.
If you encounter a situation where multiple players call for a card simultaneously, whoever called out first is the one to request. This can only be done by one player per turn, and each player can only call out three times in an entire game.
Playing Down Cards
You may have wondered what I meant previously when I spoke about playing down cards.
Don’t worry; I won’t leave you hanging, basically playing out cards, meaning completing the entire contract (which I listed above). So, for example, you can only do this within the first round of the game once you have 3 x threes to play down.
Once you’ve played down cards, you can add more cards to the board, including your own hand.
However, you can only add to a four at the higher end unless there is an Ace after a King, in which case you can play lower. You can also use your Joker during this play, but you must stick to the restrictions.
Finishing a Round and Ending the Game
You can end the round in two ways. Firstly, if the stockpile runs out, you should shuffle the discard pile, remove the top card, and use it to form your new stockpile. However, if this happens for a second time, the round is over and must be started again.
The other way a round ends is when a player gets rid of all of their cards.
Each time a player goes out, they must score the cards left in their hand and make a note of their scores at the end of every round played. The winner of the game at the end of all rounds is the player with the least amount of points after the ninth round.
Kalooki Card Gane – A Review
So, that’s how you play the Kalooki card game. If you found all the rules and melds a little daunting before, my guide has helped put it down a little simpler for you, and you can teach your friends and family how to play Kalooki at your next games night. If you want to learn about other cool card games, check out my guide to playing Cribbage.