Loba rummy cards game

This is a complete guide to the rummy game Loba.
I will explain how Loba is played.
I will tell you all about its rules and variations.
Sounds good? Let’s dive in…


1:What is Loba?

2: Loba de Menos

3: Loba de Mas

4: Variations of Loba


1: What is Loba?

In this chapter I will show you what Loba is.
We will go through all its particularities.
Then, in later chapter you will see how Loba is played.

Loba is a popular variant of Rummy from South America, very popular in Argentina and Bolivia. The name Loba is Spanish for “she-wolf”, and it is used for more than one Rummy variation. In Central America, Loba is played differently, a sort of Contract Rummy, similar to the game referred to as Carioca.

In Argentina, there are two forms of Loba. One is Loba de Menos (negative Loba) in which you win points for cards that have remained in your hands when the game is over. The goal of the game is to score as few points as possible.

Loba de Mas (positive Loba) is the variant in which points are scored for combinations you make and lost for cards that remain in your hand at the end of the game. The goal is to score as many points as possible.
So, in general, Loba is a very popular and enjoyable game, especially loved by Rummy players. As other rummy games, the game is based on making melds and combinations. This is what makes it a very interesting game specifically for those who love strategic games and forming combinations. The game is played in different regions and it has a couple of variations, just as many other rummy game variants.

2: Loba de Menos

In this chapter you will understand Loba de Menos.
I will explain how the game is played.
After this chapter, you can find the chapter on Loba de Mas.

Loba de Menos can be played by 2 to 5 players, with two ordinary 52-card decks plus 4 jokers, making 108 cards in all.

The game is interesting because it can be played for money where each player contributes an equal stake to a pot, which will be taken by the winner.

The dealer is chosen by the highest card. Then, the turn to deal passes to the left after each hand. Both the deal and the play are conducted clockwise.
Each player is dealt nine cards, one at a time.
After the dealing part, the next card is placed face up to start the discard pile and the remainder of the deck is stacked face down beside it to form the stock.

Piernas and Escaleras

As already mentioned, the goal of the game is to get rid of cards by making combinations which are put face up on the table. Combinations are the key of the game as in any other rummy game.

There are certain combinations you can make in this game, and they are indeed similar to combinations you make in pretty much any other rummy variant. In Loba, combinations just have Spanish names.
One is called a pierna. A pierna consists of three cards of the same rank from different suits – for example 4, 4, 4. A pierna can also have other cards of the same rank in the same three suits, but not of the fourth suit.

The other possible combination is escalera. An escalera has three or more cards of the same suit in sequence. Note that the ace can be counted high or low, depending on what you need and what you then choose. This means that 10-J-Q-K-A and A-2-3-4 are both valid escaleras. However, Ace cannot be both high and low at once, so K-A-2-3 is not a valid combination.

Now this is how the game is conducted. The player to dealer’s left begins and play continues clockwise.

When it is your turn, you first need to draw a top card either from the face up discard pile or from the face down draw pile. Of course, it is only possible to draw a card from the discard pile if that card is immediately played to the table as part of a pierna or escalera (either to make a new one with cards from your hand, or to add to an existing one on the table). You cannot take the discard and keep it in your hand.

If you have cards that form a valid Pierna or Escalera, they can be held face up on the table. And if you have these cards on the table, you can add a card or cards to them, but also to other players’ cards. Piernas and escaleras on the table cannot be broken up to reuse the cards to form new combinations – they can only be added to. You cannot add to another player’s pierna or escalera until you have put down a pierna or escalera of your own.
To end your turn you must discard one card face up to the discard pile.
If you cannot draw a card from the draw pile, because the stock pile is exhausted, then the cards in the discard pile (apart from its top card, which is left in place), are shuffled and stacked face down to form a new stock pile.
Of course, the game ends when one player manages to get rid of all their cards.


You can use a joker in escaleras, but not in piernas. Furthermore, in one escalera you can use only one Joker.

Joker is the card that cannot be discarded. However, there is only one exception. It is when you have already put down all your other cards melded in combinations. Then when it is time to discard and the only card left in your hand is Joker, you can discard it, since in this way you are ending the game.

This means that drawing a Joker, especially if it is towards the end of the round, can be very inconvenient. This is especially the case if no escaleras have been put down or if all the escaleras on the table already contain Jokers.

When you adding a Joker to an escalera, you can place it and move it from one end of the escalera to the other end. For example, if an escalera is made up of the 8-9-10-Joker, you may add the J to one end and move the Joker to represent a 7 or a Q. When the Joker is in the middle of an escalera (as in 8-Joker-10-J) its position may not be changed, so if 8-Joker-10-J is on the table, you are not allowed to add a 9 to it.


The player who has managed to get rid of all their cards will normally score zero points. On the other hand, other players score penalty points for the cards remaining in their hands.
Then, the cards in other players’ hands are valued according to their face value, while the Jokers, Kings, Queens, Jacks and Aces are valued at 10 points.

Each player adds up the point values of the cards they have left in their hands, and then adds this total value to their previous cumulative score.
If you win a round by putting down all of your cards at the same time (forming your own piernas or escaleras or adding to those of other players), without having previously put down any cards in that round, your cumulative score is even reduced by 10 points.

When one of the players reaches 101 points or more, that player has lost the game and he or she is out of it. Nevertheless, he or she can be reincorporated (“reengancharse”) with the score of the player with the highest number of points at that moment.

For each “reenganche” he must pay a predetermined amount to the pot. Each player is allowed a maximum of two “reenganches”. After that, if the player goes over 100 again, they are eliminated and the game continues with the other players.

The whole game is finished when all players except one have been eliminated from the game. The last remaining player is the winner and collects all the players’ initial stakes, plus the payments for any reenganches.

The game also ends if at the end of a round, all players except one have a total score of more than 100. In that case, the player who has 100 or less points is obviously the winner and the other players do not have the opportunity for “reenganche”.

3: Loba de Mas

In this chapter you will understand Loba de Mas.
I will explain how the game is played.
After this chapter, you can read about other possible variations.

Loba de Mas is the other Loba variant that can be played by two to five players with two standard 52-card packs plus four jokers are used, which makes 108 cards in total.

Players can agree upon who the first dealer will be, as it can be any player. After the first dealer has dealt the cards in one turn, the turn to deal passes clockwise. Each player is dealt 11 cards, while the remaining cards are stacked face down to form a stock pile.
Piernas and Escaleras

Just as in Loba de Menos, players make combinations called Piernas and Escaleras. Yet, in Loba de Mas you actually score points for the combinations that you put down.

The rules about what cards are needed to form valid Piernas and Escaleras are similar to those in Loba de Menos, except for the use of jokers and wild cards. In Loba de Mas the jokers are wild, and the twos can be used either as natural twos or as wild cards.

Piernas consist of from 3 to 6 cards of the same rank in three different suits. Piernas cannot include jokers or wild twos, but it is possible to make a Pierna consisting entirely of twos of three suits.

Escaleras are sequences of from 3 to 13 cards in suit. They can contain rather any number of wild cards but, of course, they cannot consist entirely of jokers. For example, an escalera can contain twos and jokers and it is thus valid, because one of the twos can be treated as natural, and the remaining wild cards form a sequence in that suit. Just as in Loba de Menos, Aces can be used as high or low cards. For instance, you can have a combination Q-K-A or A-2-3.


The play begins with the player to the dealer’s left and it then continues clockwise. One player’s turn has a couple of steps.
First, you either draw the top card of the face down stock or take the whole of the discard pile.

In Loba de Mas, the cards of the discard pile (which is called the “pozo”) are overlapped. In this way all their values are actually visible.
So, after you draw a card, you optionally play piernas and/or escaleras from your hand to the table, and/or add cards to combinations that have been previously put down.

After this, you discard one card face up to the discard pile (pozo).
Keep in mind that when taking the pozo, you do not have to put down or add to any combinations. You can simply take the pozo and discard a card. And yet, note that if the pozo stack consists of only one card, you cannot just take this card and discard it again. However, it would be a legal and valid move if you took this card and discard the other card of the same suit and rank if you happened to hold it.

A very important rule, that is not existent in Loba de Menos, cards cannot be added to other players’ combinations. You can only add cards to your own combinations. Just as in Loba de Menos, when it comes to adding cards to an escalera, a wild card can be moved from one end to the other. But also, a wild card that is not at the end of an escalera cannot be moved.
The gameplay continues until one player manages to get rid of all their cards in valid combinations.

If the stock runs out, the play ends when the player who took the last stock card discards.


The scores are generally based on certain card values. There is a positive value in combinations on the table and negative value in hand. Ace carries 2 points in combinations such as A-K-Q or A-A-A, while it carries one point in A-2-3. You get three points for each K, W, J, 10, 9, 8 and 2 points each 7, 6, 5, 4, 3. Each Joker is 1 point, 2 3 points used as A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8 1 point used as 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (low) 3 points each.

Then, there are examples of positive scores for combinations:
A-K-Q = 7 points
A-2-Q = 8 points (using the 2 as a K)
A-2-2 = 9 points
2-2-2 = 3 points
2-2-2-2-2-2-2 = 9 points (this is best scored as an escalera 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 so that the last 2 is worth 3 points)
A-2-2-J = 11 points
A-2-2-4 = 4 points
K-Q-2 = 7 points
K-2-2 = 8 points

The player that goes out and thus gets rid of all his or her cards will score all the combinations that he or she has on the table a bonus of 5 points.
Certainly, if the stock runs out and no one has gone out, no one gets this 5-point bonus.

Those players who did not go out, will score for the combinations that they have on the table less the cards in their hands, and this can result in a negative score. Each player’s score for the hand is added to their cumulative score.

As in all other rummy variants, if you manage to go out by putting down all your cards (or all but one which will then be discarded) at the same and without having previously put down any combinations, this is the best way of going out and in this way you score a larger bonus of 5 points per player in the game.

This game of Loba de Mas ends when one or more players have scored at least 150 points. If you are playing for money, each pair of players then settles up according to the difference between their scores.
Example with 4 players:
Player 1 has +160 points (wins 30 + 140 + 180, so wins 350 overall) Player 2 has +130 points (loses 30, wins 110 + 150, so wins 230 overall) Player 3 has +20 points (loses 140 + 110, wins 40, so loses 210 overall) Player 4 has -20 points (loses 180 + 150 + 40, so loses 370 overall) Note that wins and losses should always balance.

4: Variations of Loba

In this chapter I will show you possible variations in this game.
You will see what can be altered.
You will also read about the particularities of these variations.

As usual, all card games have different variations, since this depends on the region where the game is played, or on the way players agree on. Loba is played in South America, but there are different variations, as in Central America, Loba is played as a sort of Contract Rummy, similar to the game referred to as Carioca, while in Argentina, there are two forms of Loba, Loba de Menos and Loba de Mas.

Furthermore, there are some possible alterations within the game which are known to vary from a group of players to another. For instance, some players allow up to two jokers in each escalera. Another thing that is possible is that some players require an escalera to contain at least four cards.

In some variations, players are allowed to buy in (reengancharse) any number of times. However, the cost then increases each time. For example, if the initial stake is one unit for each player, then the first reenganche for each player costs 1. If a player gets knocked out a second time, and wants to reengancharse again, that costs 2 units, the third time costs 3, and so on. The count is kept separately for each player – after one player has bought in (say) the fourth time for 4, another player who is knocked out for the first time can still buy in for 1.

There is also another possibility when the cards in the discard pile are exhausted. You could see that in different variants, this rule changes. In some variations the cards in the discard pile, apart from its top card, are turned face down without shuffling in order to make a new stock.

However, some say that those players who have a bit better memory can know what cards are to be expected from the stock. This is why some prefer shuffling cards, while others prefer ending the game based on points accumulated.
Unfortunately, we were not able to find Loba on the internet, not even on the Spanish-speaking sites. The only exception is this site http://www.rummy-games.com/game/ThanosLoba where you can read about downloading the game and for that you need solid AI, premium graphics, smooth animation, and realistic decks. Requires DirectX v.7.0 or higher. So, if you are interested, check it out.

The game is obviously usually played at home, at parties with friends in live versions, and although it is not played in casinos either, it still can be a gambling game, since many people enjoy placing bets, just like in other rummy games. However, the game is not typically a gambling game, but rather the one that people enjoy since they can relax and socialize, as well as enjoy the game strategies and plans, making combinations and seeing who has more luck.

All in all, since this is indeed a popular version of the well-known Rummy game played in Latin America, it needed to be covered in this guide.