Telefunken Rummy card game

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

Telefunken is a contract rummy game and it is played in certain South American countries, particularly in Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and also to some extent in Colombia.

It is said that this game has the German name since it was brought to South America during the Second World War.

There is an interesting fact about its name origin. In German funken means “to broadcast”, and Telefunken was the name of a German radio and television company. Obviously, the game of rummy does not have the real connection to broadcasting, but it is probably that people who brought it to South America had some connection with the firm Telefunken.

How Telefunken is Played?

Telefunken is the sort of rummy which is usually played by four people with a double pack of cards with four jokers. You also need a supply of chips or tokens, 7 per player.

As in all rummy games, the object of the game is to collect sets of equal ranked cards and runs of consecutive cards of a suit, which can then be melded (laid down). The game is, like all other rummy games, based on drawing and discarding.

Since Telefunken is a contract rummy game, it is based on deals and specific combinations you must achieve. Your first meld in each deal must consider of the arranged combination. Only after this you can get rid of further cards by adding them to your own or your opponents’ combinations. You can also meld fresh combinations. The other players then score penalty points for any cards left in their hands.

Combinations and Dealing

There are two types of combination that can be melded:

  1. A set of three or more cards of the same rank. A set of 3 equal cards is called trío, a set of 4 equal cards is a cuarteto, and a set of 5 equal cards is a quinteto.
  2. A run of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, known as a sequidilla. In a run, an ace can be high (…-Q-K-A) or low (A-2-3-…) but it cannot be used in the middle of a run (K-A-2 is not valid).
    A joker can be used to replace card, but not more than one joker can be used in any set or run.
    A game of Telefunken consists of seven deals, and the contract for each deal is as follows:
    Deal 1: one set of equal 3 cards (trío), which must be pure (limpio) – no joker can be used and the cards must be of three different suits.
    • Deal 2: two sets of 3 (2 tríos)
    • Deal 3: one set of 4 (cuarteto)
    • Deal 4: two sets of 4 (2 cuartetos)
    • Deal 5: one set of 5 (quinteto)
    • Deal 6: two sets of 5 (2 quintetos) – all players discard before the play begins
    • Deal 7: one set of 3 (trío) and one run (seguidilla) of 7 or more cards and the player must go out on that turn.
    Bear in mind that it is only in the first deal that the set of 3 required for the contract must be pure. In later deals, identical cards and a joker can be used to complete a set.
  3. Before the first deal, players are given seven chips which are then used for “buying” cards.
    The first person to deal is chosen randomly and the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. The dealer shuffles the cards and places them face down on the table. Then the player to the left of the dealer cuts the deck. The cutter looks at the bottom three cards of the top portion, and if any of these are jokers, he takes them, shows them and keeps them as part of his hand. He or she then places the remainder of the top portion of the pack face down on the table alongside the bottom portion.Then the dealer takes the bottom portion of the pack and deals from it. Each player will have 11 cards, dealt one at the time.
    If the player to dealer’s left has taken any jokers, this player must be given correspondingly fewer cards in the deal. The dealer then turns the next card face up and puts it on the table to start the discard pile.
    If the dealer runs out of cards in the bottom portion, he or she should pick up the top portion and thus continue dealing, and whatever remains is returned to the table face down alongside the face up card. If the player to the dealer’s left managed to leave a bottom portion containing the exact number of cards required for the deal (45 for four players if no jokers were taken by the cutter), the person who cuts is rewarded with an extra chip.
    In deal 6, when the dealing has been finished, everyone can discard any number of cards from their hands face down. The dealer then gathers these discards together, shuffles them, and deals them out to the players, giving each player as many cards as he or she discarded.
    In the first turn of the deal only, the player to dealer’s right is allowed to take the face up card turned up by the dealer instead of drawing from the stock, without paying a chip and without taking any extra cards.
    For the remainder of the hand, every player’s turn begins by drawing the top card of the stock. A player that would like to take the top card of the discard pile actually has to “buy” this card, which costs one chip and one extra card drawn from the stock.
    After you draw a card, you can meld sets and sequences from your hand, playing them face up on the table.
    If you have not previously melded, then on the first turn on which you meld, you must put the exact cards required by the contract for the current deal. You can also, if you wish, put down additional sets of three or more equal ranked cards, and you can put down runs of three or more consecutive cards in a suit. You may also extend sets and runs put down by other players, by adding cards to them. However, you cannot extend the sets that are part of your contract until your next turn.

These are the rules that apply if you have already melded in a previous turn:
• You can extend your own or other players’ sets and runs.
• You can put down additional sets of three or more equal cards or runs of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit.
• You can take a joker from a set melded by yourself or another player if you add in its place two cards from your hand of the same rank as the rest of the set.
• You cannot take a joker from a run, but if a joker is at one end of a run, and you have the card that it represents, you can replace the joker by the real card and move the joker to either end of the extended run.

For example, if there is a run of joker- 6- 7 on the table and you have the 5 and the 9, you can replace the joker by the 5, move the joker to represent the 8 and add the 9 from your hand. The joker is no longer at the end of the run, so cannot be moved again, even by a player who holds the 8.

The pure trio which is required for the first deal contract is distinguished from other combinations. These combinations can be laid down by placing one card of the pure trio crosswise. The trio can be extended to four cards by adding an equal card of the fourth suit. After this it is complete and cannot be added to.

You finish your turn by discarding one card face up.

Players who have not yet melded in the current deal can buy the card discarded at the end of a player’s turn. If it happens that two or more players wish to buy that same discard, then the player to the right of the discarder, whose turn is next, has the highest priority. After him or her, the priority moves to the following player moving counter-clockwise round the table.

As already mentioned above, to buy a card it costs one chip. You take the discard and draw one card from the top of the stock, adding both cards to your hand. If you buy the discard when it is your turn to play, you draw two cards from the stock – one for buying the discard and another to begin your turn. If you buy the discard when it is not your turn, after this the player whose turn it was to play continues and draws as usual.

After you have melded, you can no longer buy cards from the discard pile.
Keep in mind that you have seven chips in total for the whole game. It is wise to save several of these chips for deal seven, which is the most difficult one.

End of the Game and Scoring

The game is played until one of the players “goes out” by emptying his or her hand. This can be done either by melding all one’s cards, or by melding all except one card and discarding the final card. At the point the play stops and the hand is scored.

It is possible that sometimes the stock pile is exhausted before the game ends and in this care the discard pile is simply turned face down and shuffled to form a new stock. After this the game normally continues.

Keep in mind that in deal 7 you cannot lay down any cards until you are able to go out in the same turn. You need to lay down one set of exactly three cards, one run of seven cards or more, plus as many extra sets and/or runs as are needed to use all your cards, or all but one, which you discard. It follows that in this deal, only one player will be able to lay down cards, and no laying off is possible.

A cumulative score in penalty points is kept for each player. At the end of each deal, each of the players score the value of the cards remaining in their hands, according to the following schedule.
2 – 9 . . . face value
10 – K . . . 10 points
Ace . . . 11 points
Joker . . . 15 points

The player who went out, having no cards, scores zero for the deal.
The person who won each of the seven deals wins a small stake. The player who has the lowest cumulative score at the end of the 7th deal will win a larger stake.

Telefunken Game Variations

Rummy has many variations, Telefunken being one of them. However, Telefunken also has certain variations. The reason for this is that these games all vary depending on the area where they are played.
For example, the number of chips that players are given at the beginning of the game can vary. In some variations each player is given 12 or 13 chips.
In some variations of the game the player who cuts the exact number of cards required for the deal is rewarded by deducting a number of points (25 or 50) from his or her score, rather than by giving him or her an extra chip as in some game variations.

Then, on the other hand, some play without the “discard” at the start of the 6th deal and some play that there is a discard at the beginning of the fourth deal, and two discards at the start of the 6th deal: everyone can discard any number of cards. The dealer shuffles these cards and distributes them to the players and then the players may discard a second time, as many cards as they wish. After this the dealer reshuffles and redistributes so that everyone has 11 cards.