How Rummikub Works

Rummikub Tricks and Tips

People of all ages love playing Rummikub. SETH SAWYERS/CC BY 2.0

Although Rummikub is a game that even young kids can enjoy, that doesn't mean that only blind luck will get you through a game. Let's review some Rummikub strategies to help improve your chances of yelling "Rummikub" before anyone else.

For one, it doesn't hurt to leave some tiles in reserve for later in the game. This allows the game to open up a bit more and could give you more chances later to put down tiles. You can also hold off on laying the fourth tile from a group or run; that allows you to play a tile on the next turn instead of picking from the pool. Use your initial set to get rid of your higher value tiles so if someone yells "Rummikub" early, you're not too destroyed.


The most important Rummikub strategy? Keep your eyes on the tiles and your head in the game. Rummikub requires you to constantly analyze ways to rearrange and add tiles to the table. It never hurts to keep track of what tiles have been used — sometimes, you'll be watching a run with anticipation for 15 minutes, only to realize that the tile you need to add to the run is already occupied and staying there.

Now, a dirty little secret about Rummikub must be revealed. While we've been gleefully detailing the Rummikub rules, the truth is that there are several versions of game play — and complicated rules to show for it. We've gone over the general "Sabra version," which is most likely the one you'll play regardless of where you live. The instructions closely follow any you'll get if you buy Rummikub and read the enclosed directions.

There are a couple more versions, however. One is the "American version" that was originally included in Rummikub games. (You'll only find Sabra rules now.) It's a bit simpler than the Sabra version; in it, you can do things like use the 1 tile as a high or low number (meaning it can complete a 12, 13, 1 run).

The "Israeli (or International) Version" is another beast, indeed. For one, your initial set must be (a rather intimidating) 50 points. Also included are some extremely strategic ways to score whopping amounts of points by arranging your tiles — using only those on your rack — to form only complete runs and groups. Not easy.

If you're looking to improve your game with a little practice, you're in luck. There are multiple platforms for Rummikub, including free online games (sponsored by the Rummikub brand) and a few apps to play on a smartphone or device.

Author's Note: How Rummikub Works

Apparently, Rummikub is popular. Not only are there the sales to show for it, but seemingly everyone I asked had played the game and was shocked I hadn't. Someone even pointed to a nearby shelf where a box of Rummikub sat. In my own home. The point being, Rummikub is one of those games that never had the cultural moment that, say, Cranium or Apples to Apples had. But it's created a real foothold in households that desire a game that's old-fashioned — based mostly on the card games rummy or gin -- and reliable for the whole family to enjoy. And who doesn't appreciate a game that was invented to cleverly skirt oppressive communist edicts? For that reason alone, it's worth a look at your local game store. But first, check out your own shelf first.

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