When Can You Play A Joker In Rummikub? (The Best Strategies)

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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, can you play a Joker in Rummikub?

Although there are some disagreements about when you can play a Joker in Rummikub, the game states that you are able to play it at anytime after you have gotten “out” by playing youjr intial meld. After that the Joker can be played anywhere on the table you choose and used as a wild in any meld.

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. 

If you need to get a new Rummikub game or if you just want to check out all the different editions that there currently are you can find them by clicking here.

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

Want to play Rummikub with more than 4 players? Then you are in luck.

This Rummikub game is specifically designed with extra tiles and stands so you can play with 6 people instead of 4.

How do you play a joker in Rummikub?

In Rummikub, the Joker cannot be played before a player has laid down their initial meld. Once you lay down your initial meld, a Joker can be taken from a set on the table by any player who can replace it with another tile of the same numerical and color value it represents.

Once the joker is replaced, you can then use the joker to make a new set or run on the table with tiles from your rack or the table.  

To play the Joker, a player with a tile matching the color and value of the Joker can replace the Joker with that tile. The joker can then be used to help you make a new set or run. You can do this with tiles from your rack as well as tiles on the table. 

The Joker must be played that same turn. 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.

So, 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. In other words, you cannot lay down a tile that was just picked, and a player must wait until his next turn to play once they have drawn. Players then continue to take turns until one player empties his rack and calls Rummikub.

That will then finish the round and players will tally their points. If each of the other 3 players have 25 points left on their racks, then they will get that amount of points, but negative.

The winner of the round will then get the combined points, but positive. So if player 1 wins the round and player 2, has -25, player 3, has -25 and player 4 has -25, player 1 would get +75 points for that round. 

There are two Jokers in the set of tiles. The game is tile based, meaning that two or more players are combining elements of the card game rummy and mahjong.

There are 104 number tiles in the game whose value ranges from 1 to 13 in four different colors. There are two copies of each. There are also 2 Jokers in the set. 

The Joker can be used instead of any tile to create a set or run. The Joker also cannot be used in the initial melds, and you are not allowed to use two jokers in one set or run. You can also not replace a Joker on the table before you have laid down your initial meld.  

Rummikub - The Original Rummy Tile Game by Pressman

What are the rules of the Joker?

There is actually more than one way to play, and more than one set of 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. 

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 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).

The Joker must then be used immediately to make a new set during the same hand. Although most people do not play this way, some people do, and players should all be completely aware of any rules that they are playing by before the game starts. 

The 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. 

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 cannot be used in a single set/meld, and a Joker can not be played before a player has laid down their initial meld.

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

The Joker can also represent either 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 tends 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 rules with your opponents to find out how you will be playing. 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. 

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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