Skip to content


With roots in Jamaica, Kalookie is sometimes referred to as Jamaican Rummy. We cover the basics of game play ad difference with basic rummy.


Kalookie is a variation of rummy which can be played by two to five players. Two standard packs of cards including two jokers are used – a total of One Hundred and Six cards in all. Each player receives Thirteen cards.

Card Values

The card values are as follows:

  • Ace = 11 points
  • King = 10 Points
  • Queen = 10 Points
  • Jack = 10 Points
  • Ten = 10 points
  • 2 to 9 = Face value
  • Joker = 15 points

When a Joker is used in a meld to substitute for any other card, it takes on the point value of that particular card. The Joker will count as 15 penalty points when in your hand at the end of play.

Pre Game Agreements

Before play begins it is necessary for the players to all agree on the following stakes:

  • Call Up The amount to be paid to the winner of each hand by the other players
  • Kalookie The amount paid to a player who wins a hand by putting down all 13 cards at once
  • Initial Stake The amount paid to the pool by all players at the start of the game
  • Buy-in Stake The additional amount paid to the pool to re-enter the game by a player whose score exceeds the target.

Special Cases

In the case where there are five players, both the seating arrangements and who gets to deal first are determined by shuffling together five cards – an ace, two, three four and five – and dealing them to the players. Whoever gets the ace has choice of seat and deals first; the holders of the 2, 3, 4 and 5 sit around the table clockwise from the dealer. With fewer than five players, the same procedure with cards from ace to the number of players are used. The turn to deal passes clockwise after each hand.

The dealer shuffles and the player to the dealer’s right must cut the cards. The dealer deals out the cards one at time to each player in a clockwise direction, until each player has Thirteen cards. The next card is placed face up in the center of the table to start the discard pile and the remaining undealt cards are stacked face down beside it to form the stock.

Kalookie Difference from Basic Rummy

Through drawing and discarding as in the basic game of Rummy, the players try to meld their Thirteen cards. This may be done when a combination of cards from your hand is placed face up in front of you. This combination can be done in two ways which is in sequences of run such as three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive order. Another way as a group where three or four cards are of the same rank.

The hand is won by the first player who melds all their cards in this way. Also known known as calling up. All the other players score penalty points for the cards remaining in their hands. Anyone who accumulates more than 150 penalty points over a series of hands is eliminated from the game. Some variations allow eliminated players to buy themselves back in by paying a new stake into the pool. When all players but one have been eliminated, the last surviving player wins the game and takes the money in the pool.

Melds in Kalookie

With the initial meld. The first meld put down by a player, which may consist of more than one set or run, must consist of cards to a total value of a minimum of forty points. If the initial meld contains jokers, the point value of the Joker will be that of the card it represents. A player who has made an initial meld of 40 or more points can on later turns lay down further melds of any value, however small.

After you have laid down your initial meld you can at the same or later add cards from your hand to any meld on the table, your own or any other players. This is called building, and you can add the corresponding card of the fourth suit to a three-card set, and if it contains a joker there will be a choice of suits that can be added, or you can add further consecutive cards to either end of a run. However, you are not permitted to add more than two cards to the same end of a run in a single turn – when putting down three or more consecutive cards of a suit, they must be melded as a new run rather than a build. In builds, as in original melds, a joker can be used as a substitute for any card.

Although it is possible to build in the same turn when you lay down your initial meld, the values of cards that you build cannot be counted towards the forty points needed to make your initial meld valid.

Joker Re-use

To reuse a joker, pick it up and use it in your next meld. This means that you can in certain circumstances reuse a joker previously melded by yourself or another player. However, this can only be done by a player who has already laid down an initial meld of at least forty points, and the released of that joker must immediately be used in a new meld or build. Additionally, a joker that has been melded can never be taken into the hand of a player.