Penang Rummy is an immensely popular card game in South East Asia. Also known as Si Rummy, the game has an interesting blend of all the rules used in other rummy variants. However, what makes it distinct from other card games are the aspects of ‘dead cards’, which is a hand that cannot be used or exchanged.
Like other rummy games, Penang Rummy is played with two standard decks of cards with six jokers – two printed and four wild jokers. The objective of the game is to meld by eliminating the unmatched cards or “deadwood” cards to score the least number of points.
Each player is dealt with 20 cards and if the game is played with three players, then 25 cards are dealt. 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 to the left of the dealers starts the game; he does not have the option to skip and has to either meld or lay off. The first meld is called as “passport”. If the player has three or more cards that form a “run” or “set”, he may meld 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” and will be eliminated from the game while other players continue to play the game.
When a player gets rid of all the cards in the hand, he wins the game by “going out” or “knocking” just like the way a player declares in other rummy games. Other losing players sum up their points based on the points system in Penang Rummy. All numbered cards have the same points as their face value while Kings, Queens and Jacks have 10 points each. Aces have 15 points and Jokers have 20 points.