Rummy in Blackjack: What It Is and How to Play

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Card games are already so complicated to understand because of two reasons: human beings, being creative geniuses, invented so many of them that it is difficult to keep track of them all, and each game comes with its own set of complicated rules that can seem overwhelming to someone playing for the first time. Rummy in blackjack is one of those complicated messes that we’ll be untangling in this article.

Wait, isn’t rummy a different card game?

Rummy has two meanings when it comes to blackjack. For one, it’s one of the game's many variants; for the other, it is a side bet in blackjack. To add to the confusion, rummy is also a separate game in its own right, where players need to sequence their cards in order of either suit, sequence, or rank, which is called a meld. The meld contains three of four cards. While rummy is one of the easiest games to understand and play, rummy in blackjack is a whole different story.

What exactly is rummy blackjack?

Rummy blackjack incorporates the standard rules of blackjack, and while there are still rummy sequences in the game, this is a side bet. The biggest challenge when it comes to the game is that you don’t have a 3:2 payout, and a ten-point card plus an ace will lead to 21 points. 

Rummy blackjack can be played using four to six decks. Here are a few rules that you should be aware of if you’re new to it: 

  1. The dealer has to stand on a soft total of 17 because aces equal 11.
  2. You are allowed to split and re-split.
  3. You don’t get a special payout if you get a blackjack.
  4. You can double down on any hand, even if you’ve split.
  5. You can surrender early. For instance, if the dealer displays an ace, players can choose not to play and get back half of their stake. 
  6. The main game offers a chance to receive a bonus if you can form a rummy hand using the first 3 cards. 

How to play it 

You start the game when you place a bet. You and the dealer will get two cards, and you’ll be playing against each other. One of the dealer's cards will be face-up, which will help you figure out a possible hand. 

Here’s what the scoring is like 

  1. You can get 1 or 11 points with an ace according to the value that benefits the player. 
  2. The numbered cards will give you points corresponding to that number. For instance, an 11 will give you 11 points. 
  3. Cards such as king, queen, and jack will give you 10 points per card. 

You can win against the dealer by either earning more points than the dealer or keeping playing till the time the dealer earns more than 21 points. 

A bust is when you get 22 points or more, which means that you’ve lost. The dealer, however, has an advantage. The moment you bust, you’ll lose, and the fact that the player’s hand is always played first doesn’t help matters.  

Certain terminologies to remember

As with all card games, rummy blackjack comes with its own set of terminologies, and it would do you good to remember and understand them so that you are fully prepared to play a round of this famous card game. Here are the four important ones:

  1. Stand is when you keep your current total.
  2. Hit is taking another card so that your total increases. 
  3. Split involves using two cards of the same rank for splitting your hand. You’ll have to place another bet equivalent to your first one, resulting in two blackjack hands. Each hand will start with one of the two cards that you had in your first hand. 
  4. In double-down, you double your bet size and take one extra card.

In every game of blackjack, you need to be wise and understand when to make each move. While card games are based on luck, you’re still required to plan out your next moves strategically to come out on the winning end. 

Side bet

A side bet in a rummy-blackjack game is pretty easy to understand. You can use the two first cards that you are dealt with and match them with the dealer’s card that’s facing up for a potential meld. This will follow the same rules as the traditional rummy game, and it should remind you of 21+3 because of the similarity. The only difference is the substitution of poker hands with rummy hands. If your cards sequence, you’ll have a chance to win 9:1, and the payout will be worthwhile. But you shouldn’t have high expectations since the odds of winning won’t be so great. 

Why was rummy blackjack invented?

Believe it or not, Costa Rica has declared blackjack illegal. So obviously, a loophole needed to be invented so that they could get around this illegality without breaking the law. Rummy blackjack is, hence, similar to the original game and satisfies the 21-player configuration. Many of the other rules are also the same. However, the difference lies in the fact that the 3:2 payout isn’t included, i.e., a two-card hand that equals 21. Due to this disadvantage, players are compensated with the possibility of receiving a bonus if they manage to create a meld. 

While it might seem complicated to understand at first, rummy blackjack is quite similar to the original blackjack with some changes. Once you get the hang of the new rules, you’ll start getting more comfortable. It's funny how human beings have clever ways of inserting slight changes to anything to make it more compliant with country laws. 

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