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Can You Start With A Joker In Rummikub? (Other Important Joker Rules)

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Have you ever been playing Rummikub and someone started their first meld with a joker? Did you ever think that that was an unfair advantage because you didn’t have a joker?

Well in this article we will let you know everything about Rummikub and if you can start with a joker or not. 

So can you start with a joker in Rummikub?

In Rummikub, you can play a joker in your initial meld to “get out”. According to the official Rummikub rules a joker can be played at any time and in any way that you wish (as long as it is your turn and is used to make legal sets or runs).

In most scenarios, it’s actually better to save the joker for later in the game however as once it is laid on the table it can be used by all of the other players. So if you wait longer to play it then you will deny them using it for longer.

However, you don’t want to wait too long to play it as if someone goes out while you still have it on your rack then you will be assessed a 30-point penalty.

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If you want to know more about playing Rummikub and the official rules of the game, you will want to keep reading. You can also check out this video below if you prefer.

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Can you start with a joker in Rummikub?

As discussed above, you can start with the joker if you wish. You can use the jokers when placing your first sets on the table to get “out”, when manipulating tiles on the table, when playing a new set or run, or really at any time on your turn. You need to have 30 points or more to lay down at once to get out (which you can use the joker to make) but if even with the joker counting as those points you still aren’t at 30 points then you will have to draw.

For your initial meld and to “get out” you need to have a total of 30 points. If you play a joker with your initial meld it counts as whatever point the tile that it is replacing would be. For example, if you have two 11s and a joker that joker would count as the third 11 giving you a total of 33 from that set and allowing you to get out.

If you have three 5s you could use a joker to be a fourth but that would still only give you 20 points (since the joker would count as 5 points in that case). Basically for the initial meld or melds to get out the points that you count for the joker is whatever tile it is replacing.

You must be careful to play with some strategy when you have a joker. Using the joker tile is a must, but ideally, you don’t want to leave it available for someone else to use easily. This is why it’s important to use it when you think “it’s necessary” or you feel like someone is extremely close to going out.

This is one of the reasons why this game involves skill as well as some luck and if you have both, then there’s no stopping you.

How many points is a joker worth in Rummikub?

The joker is worth 30 points if it is still on your rack at the end of the round so it is the highest-value tile in the game. However, before someone goes out the joker technically doesn’t have a value as it takes on the value of wherever you choose to play it since it is wild.

Once a joker has been played on the table it can be moved around for anyone to use and can be placed in any position as well. Since it doesn’t actually have a value it doesn’t have to stay in a specific meld or hold a specific value once it’s played on the table.

It is simply wild.

If you get lucky and happen to have two jokers on your rack, then you should be able to win the game without any problem, but if your opponent is very skillful then you have to make sure to use the jokers with an end strategy in mind.

You can’t just throw away the opportunity of completely beating your opponents because you didn’t plan out your plays properly. If you have even one joker it can be a great advantage as you can easily build a meld or two on your rack and surprise people when you go out quickly.

Of course, there is some danger to this method if you get caught and someone else goes out suddenly but it is a solid strategy.

Rules for playing Rummikub

Rummikub has become a popular game over the years and is a great way to have some fun with family and friends. Yes, it is being played all around the globe, and almost everyone loves to play it!

The rules for starting the game are pretty straightforward, and you can learn them without any problem. Below is a list of some of the game’s most important rules.

  • There are a total of 106 tiles in the game including two jokers
  • You can play the game with a single opponent and with up to 4 total players as well
  • 14-16 tiles can be distributed to each player- depending on which version of the game are you playing
  • To start the game, each player has to draw one tile, and the one who has the highest number on the tile will start the game off.
  • Each player will randomly choose 14-16 tiles and place them on their rack
  • You have to put at least 3 tiles on the table in the form of sets or runs (similar to Rummy) and to be able to play you have to lay down 30 points from your rack at once. Once you are “out” then you can adjust other tiles on the table to fit more of your tiles in those sets or runs.
  • The player that is the first person to run out of tiles is the winner of the round but not actually the winner of the game! To win the game you have to be the first person to reach a predetermined score (normally 200-300) after multiple rounds.
  • When you win a round you will get a positive score of all of the tile totals that were left on the other player’s racks and they will get a negative score for what they had left on their own rack. For example, if the three losing players for a round had 20 points left on each of their racks, the round winner would have a positive score of 60 for the round and each player would have a negative score of 20.

Is Rummikub hard to play?

No, Rummikub isn’t hard to play at all but it does require thoughtfulness. All you have to do is to understand the concept of the game and practice a bit and you shouldn’t have any problem playing against people.

Many people play Rummikub that are young as well as those that are elderly and it is also played by everyone in between. Rummikub is such a fun game, and after a couple of rounds of playing it, you will realize that the game is actually fairly easy to pick up.

How do I start Rummikub?

If you are new to this game and don’t know how to start the game, there is no need to worry. All you will need to do is follow the steps below to learn how to play and win almost every time! 

  • First of all, you have to check how many players are you playing with
  • There are only 4 players that are allowed to play the game at one time (unless you have combined two games or have purchased the Rummikub game that allows 6 people found here).
  • Once you’ve decided the number of players, then you will count if you have a complete set of 106 tiles including the jokers
  • Now mix the tiles for around 30 seconds and make sure that you mix them face down or in a tile bag (that comes with some of the games).
  • Now, you can distribute 14-16 tiles to each player or ask them to randomly choose those tiles
  • Players can look at their own tiles only. It is cheating if you look at the tiles of any other player of the game
  • Now, all of the players will have to draw a single tile, and the one who has the highest number tile will start the game off and go first.
  • The game will proceed in a clockwise direction.

The setup and beginning of the game is not that hard, and is fun for everyone who is playing the game. 

Can you play Rummikub with more than 4 players?

According to the rules of Rummikub, the maximum numbers of players that can play the game are “4” with 106 tiles containing two jokers and 4 colors.

The numbers that are written on the tiles are from (1-13) digits, and there are only two copies of each color. Playing with more than 4 players isn’t possible with a single game, but if you want to play with 5 or 6 players, you can purchase a Rummikub game that has more tiles and racks so more people can play or you can simply combine multiple games together.

You can also check out this article about playing with more than 4 players and how to do it. 

Do you pick up every turn in Rummikub?

If you don’t have any tile to play when it’s your turn, you’ll have to choose one tile from the pool randomly. If you have a set or run that you can lay down on your turn after you have played your initial meld/melds or if you can play on someone else’s meld that has been laid down (assuming you are out) then you do not have to draw a tile on that turn.

The only time you will need to draw is if you cannot get rid of at least one tile from your rack and play it on the table on that turn. Besides that, you will not need to draw in the game at all. 


Now that you know when you play officially that you can start your initial meld or melds and get out with a joker, you can play the game the proper way. No matter how you play, the most important thing is to follow the rules and always have fun.

You will want to make sure that you do not cheat and that you abide by the rules of the game. If you do this, everyone can have fun playing Rummikub and it will be a time when you can create many great memories that will last a lifetime.