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Kalooki is sometimes termed Jamaican rummy
as it is a very popular game in Jamaica. It
is said to have originated in Israel and is
very famous among the Jewish communities.
There are quite many versions of the game Kalooki and the rules of these vary with the
region being played and also the version that
is being played. In different regions it is
known with different names, like Kaluki and
Kalookie. Europe, North America and South Africa
have been the regions of origin for some of the
popular versions of Kalooki.
The rules of play for the game Kalooki are similar to
standard rummy but with a very few changes. The version
for which the rules are written here is European and the
variations this version has with the North American version
are written along with and can be seen.
Kalooki is also spelled as Kalooki, Kaluki, Kalookie,
Caloochi or even kaloochi by the Jewish communities.
It is also a well-liked game in Greece. Kalooki is often
played with wild cards. The different variants have changes
in the cards dealt to each of the players where in North American
variant, 15 cards are dealt in a two player game and in European
version it is just 13 cards that are dealt.
The European Kalooki is played with two decks of
cards and only two jokers making a total of 106
cards, where North American Kalooki is played
with two standard decks of cards, including all
the four jokers making a total of 108 cards.
Kalooki can be played among two to five players.
Card Values - The card values vary with the versions of Kalooki and
they can be seen below:
North American Kalooki
South African Kalooki
Faces (J, Q, K)
*This is a joker in the hand not in a meld, where it carries the value of the card it represents.
In European Kalooki, the joker when used to replace a natural card in the
hand the value of that natural card is assumed for the joker. When a joker
is remained in the hand of a player and any other player goes out then the
joker would count 15 points against the player.
The main objective of a player in the game is to play all the cards in the hand on
melding them or “calling up”. Once a player goes out to win the game then all the
other players count the values of the cards remained and these are penalty points
that score against the players. When a player reaches 150 penalty points on playing
over a series of deals he is eliminated from the game. Thus the player who survives
till the end goes out and wins the money from the pool.
The Stake - The players negotiate for the following stakes before the play:
Paid To Whom
Amount paid to the winner of each hand by the other players
Amount paid to a winner who wins by placing all 13 cards down at once
Amount paid to the pool by all players at the start of the game
Buy In Stake
Amount paid to the pool to re-enter the game by a player who exceeds target score
The units suggested in the table above are in proportions and can
be explained as, if a call up pays 1 unit it can be assumed as 10
cents and when a kalooki pays 2 units it can assumed as 20 cents
and Initial stake and Buy in stake will be 50 cents each.
The Deal - The dealer and the seats to be assumed by the players is
decided by a small process. The cards Ace, Two, Three, Four and Five
are taken and shuffled together and one card is drawn by each of the
players. The player holding an Ace is the dealer and he has the liberty
to assume any of the seats, and the other players assume the seats in
counter clockwise starting with the dealers left according to the cards
they hold at the moment. An example with a figure can be seen below as how
the players assume their seats with the dealer being A who has an Ace card and the players
B, C, D, E having the cards 2,3,4,5 cards respectively.
The dealer now shuffles the cards and the player to the dealers right cut’s the
deck. The dealer now deals 13 cards to each of the player’s one at a time. In North
American kalooki the dealer deals 15 cards to the players if there two in the game
and if there are 3 to 5 players they are dealt 13 cards each and 11 cards are dealt if
there are six. The remaining cards after the deal are placed face down on the table
as a stock pile and a card is turned face up and placed to the side of the stock pile
to form a discard pile.
How to Play Turn By Turn
The player to the dealers left starts of the play, with the
turn’s for the next players passing in clockwise direction
around the table.
(1) Drawing (Compulsory) -
The first player can draw a card from either the stock or the discard pile.
But after the first round, players can not draw from the discard pile and have
to go invariably for the stock until they reach an initial meld requirement
of at least 40 points (and in the case of North American game it is 51 points
and the cards built on the melds of other players are also counted for a player
in a case if he has made at least one meld of his own). A player can pick a discard
if he can use it for the initial meld requirement.
(2) Melding (Optional)
- A card once drawn can be used to form a meld and these melds are
placed face up on the table. The player then discards to pass the turn on
to the next player. The player can place the melds on the table or can
retain in his hand to lay them in subsequent turns. There are two types
of combinations that can be formed in to melds and they are:
A Set (aka group) is a combination of three or four cards of the same rank and different suits:
Example of a Valid Set
Example of an Invalid Set
A Run (aka sequence) is a combination of three or more cards of the same suit in sequence:
Example of a Valid Run
Example of an Invalid Run
The Aces in Kalooki have a high rank value and hence a meld comprising the
is not valid but the meld with the cards QKA is a valid run.
Even the meld KA2
is not a valid meld since Aces uncompromisingly assume
high rank. The Aces in the North American game can be counted as high or low and
therefore both the melds shown above are valid but the third meld with the cards
is still invalid.
A meld with six or more consecutive cards can be put as a single run or can
be placed differently in two runs. It is often preferred to put as a single run
of six cards as this could deny a chance for the other players to build on these cards.
(3) Laying Off (Optional)
- After having formed the initial meld, the
player can in the same turn or in later turns lay off cards
(add cards) on to the existing melds from the hand and these
existing melds need not be of his own . This laying off can
be done only in one’s turn and is referred to as Building in
the game Kalloki.
Laying off is just adding a card to the already existing meld as in
the case where, a meld of 666
if is on the table can be added with
a fourth card of 6. As a set is a combination of cards of different suits
there can be no fifth card that can be added to the meld of 4 sixes.
An existing meld of a run can be added with cards on either ends but not more
than 2 cards can be added to the same side of a meld and even after laying off the run has
to be a valid meld. This is explained with an example, consider a run of cards
on the table, then a player can add 3 or can add
3 or even can add
but can never add 789 to that existing meld. This meld of
be added as a separate meld to the table.
The player can lay off (build) the cards on the same turn he has put down the
initial meld, but the cards laid off can not be counted towards the initial meld
requirement of 40 points and has to form a valid initial meld.
(4) Discarding (Compulsory)
- The player discards a card he needs the least after
having observed his complete hand. The discard is placed
face up on the discard pile. The turn of the player ends
once he discards and cannot play until his next turn.
The Use and Reuse of Jokers
The Jokers ( )
are wild cards in the game and can replace any of the natural cards
and also stand for the duplicate of any natural card in a meld. The card the
joker represents should be declared once a run is meld as this cannot be changed later.
In a case where two jokers are meld with a natural card as in the meld of
the player has to be specific to say what exactly the meld is, whether it is a
set or a run and if it is a run the player has to specify the two cards.
In certain conditions a joker can be reused, this is when a joker is
used to form a meld and then if any of the players gets a card that the
joker has represented till then, they can take the joker and place the card.
The player can do this only if he has reached 40 point initial meld requirement.
The joker lifted here from the meld has to be immediately placed in a new meld.
Hence we can conclude that the joker cannot be taken into the hand.
Look at the examples below:
(1) Consider a set of
22 , now a player who has
add both of these cards to the set to form a "closed set" and lift
the joker to use elsewhere in the same turn. However, if he adds just
a single 2 to that set to form
222 it becomes a four card "closed set"
and the joker cannot be lifted. If the same situation arises
in the North American version of the game the joker can be
lifted with just one natural card in hand.
In a different case, consider a set contained with two jokers as
then the player can add any of the three missing cards to obtain just
one joker. Thus forming a final meld with 2 and
The Initial Meld
The players to draw a card from the discard pile are obligatory to reach an initial meld requirement.
The initial meld has to be of the value of at least 40 points.
Initial meld requirement is the count got by summing up the
rank values of the melded cards. For example a run with the
cards 10 J Q and K can be made the initial meld as this run
reaches the initial meld requirement exactly making 40
points. For making an initial meld the player can pick a card
from the discard pile.
The End of Play
The play ends once a player,
on melding all the cards in hand and discarding
his last card goes out to win the game. The player can end the game
only on discarding the last card and going out without a discard is
considered illegal. Once a player goes out to win the game, the
other players are not allowed to lay off cards or put down melds.
The play ends and all players are stuck with the points in the hands
and these points are computed and summed up with their cumulative scores.
The 'win' in which all the 13 cards are meld on the same turn is known
as "Kalooki" and this can fetch the player a larger bonus than when compared
to "calling up". After discarding on a turn, the player has to declare the
number of cards he is left with, if the player avoids this he
can be barred from going out on his next turn.
What if the Stock Pile Finishes
When the stock pile runs out, the cards of the discard pile are shuffled and placed face
down on the table forming a new stock pile. The discard made by the player who picked the last card of
the stock, is made the upcard for the new discard pile. If the stock pile runs out again for the second
time there is no replacement of the cards from the discard pile and the game is termed void. In such a
case there is no score counted for the players and the same dealer starts a new deal.
How to Score in kalooki
Player Payments - At
the start of the game, every player makes a payment or stake
to the pool. The winner of a hand is paid with a stake by the other players
and this payment is different for a call up and a Kalooki
(these are two different ways a player goes out).
The player eliminated doesn’t pay.
Penalty Points -
The total point value of the cards remained in hand after a player has gone
out is termed as penalty points. These points determine the player eliminated
from the game and also the one who will eventually win the prize pool. A cumulative
total of penalty points is got on summing up the points of all the hands and is
kept on a regular score sheet.
The player, who first reaches 150 points, is eliminated from the game and if wishes
to return back to the game can do on a payment agreed upon at the start of the play.
Once he buys back, his score is reduced to the score of the highest scoring player who
is still below 150 points. Buying is done on considering two rules:
A player can return to the game on buying only twice during a game.
Buying in can be done only if there are at least two players under 150 points.
The pool finally goes to the
player remained in the game till the end.
All the scores are managed on a score sheet and payments are settled at
the end. In the North American game, there is no possibility for pool or
buying in and only cards remained in the hand of player are counted at the
end of each deal for computing the score. There is no bonus for going Kalooki as that in European version.
A score sheet for 4 players, played on 5 hands can be seen below:
Add pool to winner
The Winner Total
In the hand 1, player 3 wins on calling
up and each of the players pay him 1 unit.
In the hand 3, player 3 wins on a Kalooki
and each of the players pay him 2 units.
In the hand 4, player 2 is eliminated
as he crossed 150 points, he is in again on paying 5 units to the pool.
In hand 5 as three of the players have a score of over 150 the game ends
making the Player 3 winner of game and he takes the pool.