Penang Rummy is an immensely popular card game in South East Asia. Also known as Si Rummy, the game has an interesting blend of rules used in other rummy variants. However, what makes it distinct from the other rummy versions is its feature of ‘dead cards’, which is a hand that cannot be used or exchanged.
Like several other rummy variants, Penang Rummy is also played with two standard decks of cards including six Jokers: two printed Jokers and four wild Jokers. The objective of the game is to meld by eliminating the unarranged cards or deadwood cards to score the least points.
Each player is dealt 20 cards but if the game is played with three players, then 25 cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are put aside as they are no longer required in the game. Penang Rummy lacks the usual element of drawing or discarding cards. This makes it quite different from other rummy games.
The player on the left of the dealer starts the game. He does not have the option to skip and has to either meld (to lay down a combination of 3 or 4 cards to score points) or lay off. The first meld (combination of cards) is called a “passport.” If the player has three or more cards that form a run ( 3 or 4 consecutive cards of the same suit) or set, he/she may meld them by laying the cards face up on the table. A player may choose to lay off his cards on existing melds by adding to a run or set on his own or on other players’ cards. There is no limit to the additional number of cards that a player can add to a set or run. When a player can no longer meld or lay off, he has to declare “Dead”, which eliminates him/her from the game, while the other players continue to play the game.
When a player gets rid of all the cards in his/her hand, he wins the game by going out or knocking, just like a player declares in other rummy variants. The losing players sum up their points based on the points system in Penang Rummy. All the numbered cards carry the same points as their face value, while Kings, Queens and Jacks carry 10 points each. Aces have 15 points while Jokers have 20 points each.