As you could see, there are three variants of Rummikub. One is Sabra. In this game there can be two, three or four players, and the game is played clockwise. The tiles are shuffled while placed face down on the table and each player takes 14 tiles.
The object of Sabra, as in all other rummy games, is to get rid of your tiles first by melding them in combinations. As generally in Rummikub, the possible combinations are groupsandruns.
One tile cannot belong to more than one combination at the same time. Of course, jokers can be used to replace any numbered tile of any color.
As in general rules, after an initial meldis placed, players can meld by placing one or more tiles from hand face up on the table.
A combination containing a jokercan have more tiles added to it, but nothing can be taken from it. Furthermore, it cannot be rearranged in any way while there is a joker in the combination. For example if a run has a joker at one end the joker cannot be moved to the other end in order to add a tile.
However, if a player has a tile represented by a joker on the table, he or she can replace the real tile with the joker and then again use that joker in some combination on the table.
A joker released in this way cannot be taken into the player’s hand for later use. In the case of group consisting of two equal tiles and a joker, the joker can be replaced by a matching tile of either of the missing colors.
Since possible rearrangements can indeed take time, as they are quite complex, usually one turn is time limited. For example, players can agree on this time, and it can be, for example, two minutes. After you finish your turn, you should say “pass” and then the next person can play.
Interestingly enough, if you started to rearrange the tiles, but your time is up, and you have not managed to make valid combinations, you must return the tiles on the table to the configuration they were in the moment before you started your turn. You should also take back any tiles you played from your hand. Furthermore, there is even a penalty for this, since you must draw three tiles from the pool.
To make the returning of the tiles to their original positions easier if necessary, when starting a complex move you should place any tiles you play from your hand crosswise and keep them that way until you have concluded your turn successfully.
The first player who manages to play all their tiles wins. The other players add up the numbers on the tiles remaining in their racks, counting jokers as 30. They each score minus the total of their remaining tiles, and the winner scores plus the total of all the losers’ tiles.
There is another possible situation that actually happens seldom. It is when the pool of tiles has become empty and yet no one has gone out. Then the game ends and players rather count the total value of tiles they have in their racks.
In this case, the player with the lowest tile count wins. Each of the other players calculates the difference between their tile count and that of the winner, and loses that amount. The winner wins the sum of these differences, so that the players’ scores for the deal add up to zero as usual.
This game was explained first in Hertzano’s 1978 book, but is no longer included in the rules distributed with Rummikub® sets.
In American Rummikub verision, there can be two, three or four players. The tiles are shuffled and placed into 15 stacks of 7 face-down tiles, with one tile left over.
Then, every player takes two stacks and arranges the 14 tiles on his or her rack.
The remaining tile is placed face up in the center of the table. Hertzano’s book calls it the “trump“, though it is not a trump in any usual sense of the word.
The first player is chosen randomly and then the game continues counterclockwise. The turn to start passes to the right after each game.
Initially, a turn consists of drawing one tile, optionally melding and discarding one tile face up to your right.
Discards are stacked so that only the most recent discard of each player is visible.
There are certain similarities with Sabra, since a groupconsists of three or four tiles of the same number and of different colors, and a runconsists of three or more consecutive numbers of the same color. In American Rummikub® ‘1’ tiles can be used as high or low, but not both at once. So 1-2-3 and 12-13-1 are both valid runs, but 13-1-2 is not.
One tile cannot belong to more than one combination at the same time.
Jokerscan be used to replace any numbered tile of any color to make up a valid combination.
To be allowed to make a meld, you need to play one or more groups and runs from your hand with a total value of 21 pointsor more, counting number tiles at face value.
After you have laid down your initial meld, then you are given some additional options. For instance, you can meld additional groups or runs no matter the value. You can add tiles to your or other players’ melded groups or runs. If you have the tile represented by a melded joker, you can replace the joker by this tile, but you need to use the joker immediately in a “new” meld of your own.
Nevertheless, in the book it is not quite explained whether the meld has to be completely new – the joker with two or more tiles from your rack – or whether the joker can be reused to help extend an existing meld.
After your next turn, you can take the tile just discarded by the previous player instead of drawing a face down tile from the center.
Of course, the game ends when a player manages to meld all the remaining tiles in his or her hand, except one which will be the final discard. This player is then proclaimed winner.
Note that you are not allowed to draw a tile and then meld all your tiles, leaving yourself with no discard.
Furthermore, the face-up “trump” tile in the center of the table can be drawn instead of a face-down tile or the previous player’s discard if the player who draws it can thereby win the game.
When the play ends, each of the players other than the winner totals the value of the tiles remaining in their hands. Each of these players scores minus the value of their remaining tiles, and the winner scores plus the total value of all these tiles. Thus the scores of the players always add up to zero. A joker remaining in a player’s hand counts 30 points, and ‘1’ tiles count 1 point.
The book does not explain what happens if there is no winner before the face down stacks are exhausted. Thus, it is probably possible to apply the rule used in Sabra: all players count the total value of tiles in their rack and the player with the lowest tile count wins. Each of the other players calculates the difference between their tile count and that of the winner, and loses that amount. The winner wins the sum of these differences, so that the players’ scores for the deal add up to zero as usual.
This type of Rummikub can be seen as somewhat more complicated form of the American game.
You can win the game by melding all your tiles, as in American, or by constructing some special hands, which reminds of MahJong.
Each player is dealt two stacks of seven tiles, and the odd tile is given to the first player. Thus, the first player begins with 15 tiles.
The top tile of one of the remaining 7-tile stacks is turned face up and is the “trump“.
The mechanism of play is the same as in American, except that players are always permitted to draw the previous player’s discard, instead of drawing from the pool.
In the International Rummikub, there are three ways of winning: open, footand closed.
This is a regular way of winning, as it includes getting rid of all your tiles except for a final discard. You need at least 50 points for the initial meld. When you have three or fewer tiles left on your rack, you must announce this. You are not allowed to take the “trump” as your final draw.
This is a win in which you meld 14 tiles at once and discard your 15th tile. Some of your 14 tiles can be melded as your own groups and runs while others will be added to other players’ melds.
Your 14 tiles must add up to at least 50. If you can meld all your tiles without adding to other players’ melds then you have a more valuable closed win (see below), so a Foot win in practice only occurs when another player is going for an Open win.
In this way of winning you meld all 14 tiles at once, without adding anything to any other players’ meld. These have various values, according to the type of hand.
If no one managed to win by the end of the turn in which the last face down tile is drawn from the stacks, the game ends with no winner.
There are certain rules for scoring. The winner wins a number of points based on the type of winning hand. Those players who made melds will lose the total value of their unmelded tiles. Those players who have not melded will lose 100 points if the hand ended in an Open or Foot win or without a winner. However, the player loses the same amount that the winner won in the hand ended in a Closed win. If the player who has won the hand (by any of the three methods) discards a joker as his or her final discard, then all scores for that hand are doubled.
The winner of an Open hand scores 100 points, or 200 if no other player has melded.
The winner of a Foot scores 200.
Some play that if you have the identical tile to the trump, either in your original hand or by drawing it later, you score an extra 50 points.
At the end of the session, each player pays each other player in proportion to the difference between their scores.
There are many variations of rules of Rummikub games, since they vary even in the book. This includes rules on joker and melding it, or for instance, most rules do not explicitly explain if two jokers can used at the same time in the same combination.
Interestingly enough, one particular rule from the “Official Rummikub® Book” has caused a lot of confusion. According to this rule when a melded joker is replaced it must immediately be used in a “new” meld. The rules in various editions of Rummikub® sets have interpreted this rule in different ways.
The Official Rummikub® Book specified that the game should be played counter-clockwise. Recent rules supplied with Rummikub® sets all specify clockwise play.
So, there have been several versions of the book with altered rules. It is interesting to read the book, however, sometimes certain rules are altered depending on the number of players, region, game variant, or simply the way the players agree upon.
The currect Pressman Toy Corporation Rummikub® Rulesare available on line.
Software and Online Games
Rummikub can be played online and there is the official site published by Lemada Light Industries Ltd, the original distributors of Rummikub® on Rummikub.comwhere you can find an online version of Sabra Rummikub.
With RRRummy, by YPR software, you can play a form of Sabra Rummikub against the computer or online with live opponents. YPR also publishes Pup Rummy for Apple iOS, Android, Windows or Macintosh PC with which you can play several similar Tile Rummy variants.
There is also a game similar to Sabra Rummikub that can be played online under the name Rummy at the turn-based servers Yourturnmyturn.com(English), Brettspielnetz.de(German) and Jijbent.nl(Dutch).
The Rummikub® pages of Rany Rasa’s Rummy-Games.comsite include a description of Sabra Rummikub and reviews of several Rummikub and tile rummy packages.