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Rummikub Joker Rules: When Can You Play A Joker In Rummikub?

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Have you ever wondered if you can play a Joker in Rummikub and the best ways to do it? Maybe you have been playing Rummikub and you have even disagreed with others about whether or not you can use a Joker in a specific way while playing.

Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about Rummikub.

So, when can you play a Joker in Rummikub?

The official Rummikub rules state that you can play a Joker at anytime that you wish including when you are playing your initial sets or runs to “get out” When the joker is played on the table it can then be used however you wish as long as you make a complete set or run with it and do not remove it from the table.

Some people believe that once a joker is played on the table in Rummikub that it can only be used as that number and color that it was originally played as but that is incorrect. The joker stays a wild tile and can be moved around and used as a wild on any new run or new set that is created or played for the entire duration of the game.

The only rule is that once a joker is played on the table it cannot be picked up and put back on someone’s rack.

Some people also believe that you cannot use a joker to “get out” or with your initial melds that need to equal 30 for you to lay them down on the table but that also is incorrect according to the official rules. The joker in Rummikub CAN be used to help you reach that initial 30 points so you can get out.

If you are interested in reading more about the best strategies you can use when you go to play a Joker in Rummikub, you will want to continue reading the article below.

You can also check out the video below to learn the rules of Rummikub. 

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Rummikub Joker Replacement Rules

There are many house rules floating around in regard to playing a joker in Rummikub. Some people think that the joker remains wild once it is played while others say it is only wild the first time that it is played and you must play the same color and number to be able to remove it and play with another meld.

But which one is right?

A joker stays wild when it is played in Rummikub and can be used as such. You DO NOT have to replace the joker with the same tile to be able to use it in a different meld. A joker can be moved around on the table as much as you like.

If you can rearrange the tiles on the table to free a joker from a meld then you can do so without any requirement to play a tile from your rack. However, you can never remove a joker from the table once it has been played.

So once you free a joker from a meld you can use it to play additional tiles from your rack but you cannot pick up the joker and put it on your rack (even if you were the one who played that joker originally).

A joker stays wild in Rummikub and there are no specific rules for replacing it. It acts like any other tile that is on the table and can be rearranged as the player sees fit as long as the player ends their turn with completed sets or runs on the table.

Can You Use 2 Jokers In Rummikub?

Playing jokers in Rummikub can be a bit confusing (which is why I’m writing this article). This is especially true because of the many house rules that people grew up playing Rummikub with.

One of these house rules is that you cannot use two jokers in the same meld (set or run) but is this true?

Jokers are wild and two jokers can be used in one set or run if the player wishes to do so. Although it is rare that a single player will get both jokers on their rack at the same time it can happen and both can be played together if you wish.

This can be especially helpful as it can allow you to get “out” (by getting your original 30 points) and then you can play other lower-point tiles from your hand to make some additional sets or runs. Jokers are always wild so you can use them both in one set, use one in two different sets, or whatever other variations you can think of.

Both jokers can be played by the same player on the same turn if they wish without breaking any Rummikub rules.

How Do You Play A Joker In Rummikub?

In Rummikub, there are specific rules for the joker. However, in general, the joker tile can be played at any time and wherever you wish. The joker can be used to help you get out, to help you make any kinds of sets or runs, or even to be moved around on the table. As long as you use the joker in legitimate sets or runs then it is a legal way to use that tile.

If the joker has been played by someone else you can replace it on your turn and use it to create your own runs or sets whether it is a different color or different number.

The joker can be removed from a set or run that was played in three different ways:

  • You can replace the joker with another tile that matches the set or run exactly
  • You can use tiles from your rack to make a complete set or run (doesn’t have to be in the same spot that the joker was)
  • Use other tiles on the table to make complete sets or runs with the set or run where the joker was

In each case, the joker cannot be removed from the table but it can be used as you like. The joker stays wild even once you have played it on the table.

The Joker must be played that same turn that you clear it and it cannot be removed or put back on your rack (even if you were the one who originally played it.

You can play it in a set with tiles from your rack, or tiles from the table. You can also play the joker with a mixture of tiles from both places. The color and the value of the Joker may both change when this happens.

For example, if there is a run that is a blue 3, blue 4, and a Joker, a player holding a blue 5, a red 7, a blue 2, and an orange 7 may replace the Joker with his blue 5 and play the Joker with the two sevens as a new group. He may also play the blue 2 on the run and take the joker to use it with the two sevens. 

As an alternative, the Joker may be substituted for tiles already played. This will result in a faster-paced game. In another more challenging version of Sabra rules: 4 in a group of three (5,5, J), the Joker can be replaced only by having both missing colors and not just one.

This is a variation that will need to be discussed prior to starting the game. 

Rummikub - The Original Rummy Tile Game by Pressman

Can You Finish The Game With A Joker In Rummikub?

As described above, a joker may be used for any tile and its point value. Since it is wild you can use it virtually any way that you see fit as long as you don’t leave incomplete runs or sets by removing it or moving it around.

If you happen to have a joker on your rack along with a few other tiles are you allowed to use them all on your turn? Is there any rule about not being able to use the joker on your last turn?

It IS NOT against the rules to play the joker on your last turn. If you have a joker on your rack and you are able to use it and go out then that is a legal play.

However, just because it is legal does not make it a very smart play. If you get caught with the joker on your rack when someone else goes out then you will have a 30-point penalty. That means you will lose 30 points for having that joker and the winner of the round will gain 30 extra points since you didn’t play that joker.

In the early stages of the game keeping a joker on your rack makes sense but if the game is winding down it is not a good idea to try and keep a joker on your rack until the next turn.

I will go into more detail about the scoring in Rummikub later.

How Many Jokers Are In Rummikub?

When playing Rummikub getting a joker or two can be an incredibly powerful advantage. It will allow you to not only get out far easier but will also allow you to play tiles that you wouldn’t be able to under normal circumstances.

With how powerful these wild tiles are you might be wondering how many jokers are in Rummikub.

In a traditional Rummikub game, there are two joker tiles. If you purchase the six-player version of Rummikub it will have 4 joker tiles in the game.

Since the 6-player Rummikub game is designed to be played with up to 6 people it will not only have extra tiles in it but will also have two extra jokers. But if you are playing with a normal Rummikub game it will just have two joker tiles in the game.

Rummikub - The Original Rummy Tile Game by Pressman

Rummikub Joker Rules: What Are The Rules Of The Joker?

There is actually more than one way to play, and more than one set of house rules for Rummikub. Before you begin the game, you will need to discuss what way you are going to play so there is no confusion once the game begins.

House rules are simply rules that people have followed or played with over the years but that aren’t the official rules for Rummikub. So if you are playing with some unofficial house rules be sure to clarify them before beginning the game.

When you play on your turn, you can do anything as long as the board is legal when you’re done. If the board is not legal when you finish and you have an extra tile that does not go anywhere, you will have to put the board back the way it was originally, and draw three tiles as a penalty. 

One form of the game’s house rules says you cannot remove the Joker just by manipulation. The Joker can only be removed from that sequence if you have the blue 8 to replace it with (the tile it represents).

However, those are not the official Rummikub joker replacement rules for the classic Rummikub game according to their website.

The Joker must then be used immediately to make a new set during the same hand.

The house rules are whatever you agree to before you begin playing. If a disagreement like this happens during a game, you can discuss how you will play for the next game and the rest of this game. 

How Does Scoring In Rummikub Work?

When someone goes out in Rummikub you will need to add up all of the points that you have left on your rack. You will add up the face value of your tiles and then will subtract it from your current score. If it was the first round you can go into the negative with your score.

So for example, if you had 30 points on your rack you would now have -30 points so far for the game.

Each player will add up the tile value that was left on their rack when the winner went out. The losing players will then take that combined score and the winner will get the total of the minus scores as their positive score for the round.

So if a player wins the round (say player 1) and player 2, has -25, player 3, has -25, and player 4 has -25, player 1 would get +75 points for that round. So the winner’s total would be 75 points for that round.

The minus amount from each of the players should always add up to the plus amount that the winner of the round gets.

The game will then continue to the next round where you will mix the tiles back up, everyone will choose 14 new tiles from the pouch (or pile on the table), and a new round will begin.

In the rare case that all of the tiles are used in a certain round play will then proceed around the table with everyone playing if they are able. If no one is able to play then everyone will count the value of the tiles on their rack. The lowest count wins and then the scores are figured the same as above.

How To Play Rummikub

If you are playing Rummikub according to the official rules, the object of the game is to be the first player to reach a predetermined score. Most people will choose 200 or 300 points as the end of a game. That will allow you to play at least a few rounds before someone wins and will mean even if they get lucky (or have a good strategy) and win two rounds in a row they won’t win the game yet.

If the people playing Rummikub are not very experienced (or have never played before) you might want to skip the scoring part of the game and just make each round its own minigame. This works best in the case of a group of people who are younger or who don’t want to spend forever playing Rummikub.

Some important rules when playing Rummikub are:

  • There is a two-minute time limit for each turn (although this can be lengthed if everyone agrees)
  • The person who goes first is decided by drawing loose tiles (the largest number goes first)
  • Play then proceeds in a clockwise direction
  • Each person draws 14 tiles per round
  • Jokers are always wild (they stay wild throughout the entire game)
  • Players who cannot complete their rearranging (or manipulating) on the table within the time limit must put their tiles back on their rack, put the tiles in the original position, and draw 3 tiles as a penalty
  • The losers of each round get negative points
  • The losing players’ scores get added together and that is the score that the winner of the round receives

Rummikub Six Player Edition - The Classic Rummy Tile Game - More Tiles and More Players for More Fun! by Pressman , Blue


All of the rules apply to both the Rummikub Jokers, regardless of the color, which can be red or black. Either of the Jokers can be used to complete any set or even a run.

The two Jokers can be used in virtually anyway according to the official rules for classic Rummikub.

The tile used to replace a Joker can be taken from the table or from the player’s rack. As long as the table is legal when you finish your turn, basically, any manipulation is allowed.

The joker can also represent any of the missing colors; there are four colors in the game. Once a player replaces a joker or takes it by manipulating the board, they must use it in the same turn as part of a new set or run. 

Sets containing jokers can be split and manipulated like regular sets. Even if a particular tile is already on the meld area twice, a player may still use a Joker to represent that tile a third time. If a Joker remains on a player’s rack at the end of the game, they receive a penalty of -30 points.

Although there tend to be disagreements on how you can play jokers in Rummikub, the rules of the game say that you can use Jokers in any set or run on the table.

Before you start a game though, it is always a good idea to go over the house rules with your opponents to decide exactly how you will be playing if you don’t intend on following the official rules.

This will avoid fights during the game as well as clear up any opinions before the game ever begins. 

Now that you know how to play Rummikub and how you can and cannot use the Jokers, you can go ahead and start playing with your friends and family.