A game of Liverpool Rummy is played in 7 hands where players take turns drawing and discarding cards. There are 4 hands in a shorter version. During each hand, players attempt to meet a target contract of Sets and Runs. Once they have the necessary cards in hand, they can 'go down' and put these cards face-up on the table in 'melds'. They can then play their remaining hand cards on other melds, towards the final goal of 'going out' by discarding their final hand card. When a player goes out, other players are penalized points for the cards remaining in their hand.
Format: Games are played with 2 or more standard 52-card decks, depending on the number of players. 2 Jokers are added to each 52-card deck. Games with 3 to 4 players are best played with 2 decks. Games with 5 to 8 players are best played with 3 decks or more.
In the standard 7 hand version, in each of the first 4 hands each player starts with 10 cards. In each of the last 3 hands, each player starts with 12 cards. All cards are dealt face down. After all player hands have been dealt the remaining cards are placed face down in a pile known as the 'draw deck'. The top card of the draw deck placed face up next to the draw deck, forming the 'discard pile'.
Card rank: Cards are ranked in descending order from high to low, (Hi) K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (Lo). An Ace (A) can be played high (above a King) or low (below a 2) at the player’s discretion.
Objective: Complete a specific set of target melds (also known as a contract in other references). Melds come in 2 forms: Sets and Runs. A Set is three or more cards of the same value (5-5-5), of any suit. A Run is four or more cards of the same suit and consecutive value (10-J-Q-K).
In the full game, the sequence of target contracts is:
1. 2 Sets 2. 1 Set and 1 Run 3. 2 Runs 4. 3 Sets 5. 2 Sets and 1 Run 6. 2 Runs and 1 Set 7. 3 Runs
In the short game, the sequence of target contracts is:
1. 2 Sets 2. 2 Runs 3. 2 Sets and 1 Run 4. 3 Runs
Player turn: Each player’s turn consists of 4 steps:
A) Draw a card from the draw deck or the discard pile B) Going Down (aka melding), if possible C) Playing cards onto other melds (only after Going Down) D) Discarding 1 card
Every turn must end with a discard even when going out. This is placed face-up onto the discard pile. The hand immediately ends and points are scored. The first player to successfully complete the contract and lay off their entire hand wins the hand. At the conclusion of a hand, all remaining cards in other player’s hands are scored based on their point value. On BoardGameArena, points count negatively. So, the Liverpool Rummy player with the least negative cumulative score (i.e. the most-positive number) after all seven hands wins the game.
Jokers: 20 points against the player Aces: 15 points against the player 10,J,Q,K: 10 points against the player 2-9: 5 points against the player
Aces: An ace may be used to complete high (A-K-Q-J) and low (4-3-2-A) sequences. They may not be used to “turn the corner” (Q-K-A-2).
Playing on melds: Players must first complete the hand’s contract prior to being able to play the remaining cards from their hand. Following the completion of a contract, the player can play cards only onto the existing melds on the table. The player may not create any new melds of their own. So, if the contract is 2 sets you can only put down 2 sets!
Buying: Any player may attempt to 'buy' a discarded card out of turn, if the player whose turn it is does not want it. Any player that purchases a card out of turn must also take a card from the deck as penalty. Buyer priority is dictated by seat order, with the highest priority going to the player who has not had a turn the longest.
Jokers: Jokers are wild and can substitute for any card in the deck. If multiple players have already completed the contract for a hand and one player has played onto a Run or a Set containing a Joker, the other players may place the card that properly completes the Run in place of the Joker and remove it from the Run into their hand. The taken Joker may then be used elsewhere (to the best advantage of the player) in the same turn. Players can use up to 1 joker in the act of Going Down, placing the card to be substituted in a special area on the BGA table and also selecting the joker on the board.