Tracing the Origins of Rummy and Why It Became Widely Popular

Rummy is a card game that has been passed down by different cultures from generation to generation, yet it’s still not clear from which country it originated. While some scholars contend that rummy originated in Europe, specifically in Italy or Spain, others believe that the game was only introduced by merchants and sailors who were on trade expeditions in the Far East, specifically in China.

The most followed theory is that the earliest players of rummy in Europe thought of hand painting playing cards they can use in playing a simplified version of an ancient Chinese gambling game called “mah-jong.”

Comparing Rummy Games to Chinese Mah-Jong


The Chinese mah-jong used 144 pieces of small playing tiles made from ivory or bone, since paper material is not strong enough to use repeatedly. Each tile is engraved with characters and symbols representing numbers and the four seasons.

The game mechanics of mah-jong are similar to how rummy is played; by melding same symbol tiles into sets of three or more in sequential order. However, a mah jong session has four rounds, while a rummy session usually has three.

Like in mah-jong, a rummy player must be the first to complete a winning hand of sequential same suit set comprising 3 or more cards, in order to win a round. To earn the pot money, a player must win two out of three consecutive rounds.

Similar to mah-jong, the strategy for beating rummy opponents is to avoid discarding cards that the next player could pick up and use to complete a high scoring set. Yet it’s also important to discard unmatched high cards before a round ends.

How Rummy Became a Popular Card Game

Educated guesses attribute the standard playing card suits and icons to the Arab traders who travelled across the European continent. However, another independent game development that took place in Spain led to the use of Arab-inspired playing cards for a game called ‘Conquian’, which is the most popular proposition on how rummy games originated.

While the popularity of the Spanish Coquian spread throughout Europe, the “rummy” game title was said to have been coined from the British alcohol beverage “rum.” The presumption is that as the menfolk took to drinking rum and playing friendly card games in pubs, the player who loses will pay for the next round of rum at their table. Eventually, the card game came to be known as rummy.

While many Europeans migrated to the New World or the American continents, they later referred to their friendly card games and drinking sprees as Rum or Whiskey Poker. The game later evolved as poker games played by high stakes gamblers in the Western region where the Spanish and Mexicans introduced the more serious rummy version of Coquian.

Still, the height of the popularity of rummy card games was during the Great Depression, when most people had no other form of indoor entertainment, as they had little or nothing to spend for outdoor recreations.

Discovering Online Rummy as an Alternative Gaming Option

Now here’s the thing, the pandemic has also driven many people across the globe to online casinos offering different casino table games and poker rooms.

Yet many are now discovering that there are online gaming websites dedicated to offering purely rummy games. In India, a website known as Junglee Rummy offers a gaming platform where players can engage in different versions of rummy games with real players and for real money.

Just like any other regulated online gambling sites, this rummy website only accepts players who can present valid identification documents and place deposits when looking to compete with other online rummy players.

Although the younger generation of online gamblers are not too familiar with rummy games, the site offers a free-to-play, non-cash demo game for them to use for practice and/or for learning strategies, before venturing into cash games.