Shanghai Rummy is a variation of Contract Rummy. The principal differences between Shanghai Rummy and Contract Rummy are:
- There are ten rounds.
- Eleven cards are dealt to each player in every deal.
- There is a limit to the number of buys allowed.
- There is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or sequence.
- If you "go out blind" (discard all your cards in one play), you earn a bonus of 25 points (50 if you haven't used a joker). Note that a bonus subtracts points from your score, not adds them.
- Number cards count as 5 points each for scoring, rather than the index value of the card.
Each deal has a different contract, which consists of some combination of Sets and Runs:
|1||Two Sets of 3|
|2||One Set of 3 and One Run of 4|
|3||Two Runs of 4|
|4||Three Sets of 3|
|5||One Set of 3 and One Run of 7|
|6||Two Sets of 3 and One Run of 5|
|7||Three Runs of 4|
|8||One Set of 3 and One Run of 10|
|9||Three Sets of 3 and One Run of 5|
|10||Three Runs of 5|
A "buy" or the "May I?"is when an out-of-turn player takes the upcard. This works basically the same as it does in Contract Rummy - the player has to draw an extra card from the stock, and cannot play the cards immediately, but must wait for his turn. If more than one player wants it, the one closest to the dealer's left has precedence.
There is a limit to the number of buys allowed. In contracts 1 through 8, each player is only allowed 3 buys per hand. In contracts 9 and 10, each player allowed 4 buys per hand.
Note that in later rounds more than 11 cards will be needed to complete the contract, so buying discards will be required.
Use of jokers works the same as in Contract Rummy, except that there is a limit to the number of jokers used in a set or sequence:
- 1 joker may be used in a set of 3, or a run of 4
- 2 jokers may be used in a run of 5
- 3 jokers may be used in a run of 7
- 4 jokers may be used in a run of 10
For the remainder of the rules, refer to Contract Rummy.
The description of Shanghai Rummy at pagat.com includes the following additional variations from the rules above or the standard Contract Rummy rules:
There are only 7 rounds, with these contracts:
Round Contract 1 two sets 2 one set, one run 3 two runs 4 three sets 5 two sets, one run 6 one sets, two runs 7 three runs with no discard
The seventh round requires 12 cards, and so will require the drawn card plus the 11 cards in the hand in order to meld. Unless cards have been bought. Then the extras will need to be laid off as normal for the player to go out and win the round.
- Aces are always high in a run. A-2-3-4 is not a run.
- Consecutive runs in the same suit (such as 6-7-8-9 and 10-J-Q-K) cannot be put down by the same player in the initial meld. Runs can, however, become consecutive later, when they are extended by adding extra cards.
- A player cannot put down two sets of the same rank - six eights do not make two sets.
- A joker can be used in a meld as a substitute for a missing card. A set or run cannot contain more than one joker (but a player can meld more than one joker provided that they are used in different sets or runs).
- Further cards can be added to your initial meld and to other players melds in the same turn that the initial meld is laid down or in later turns.
This occurs when a card is discarded which could be added to one of the melds that is already on the table. There are two situations:
- If you deliberately discard a card which could be added to an existing meld, you can call "Shanghai" as you discard it. This prevents it from being picked up by the next player or being "May I?"d in that player's turn. This can happen, for example, when you have not yet made your initial meld, but wish to get rid of a card from your hand which happens to fit one of the other players' melds.
- If you discard a card which could be added to an existing meld without calling Shanghai, then any other player (even a player who has not yet put down their contract) may call "Shanghai", and add the discard to a meld. The calling player then offers their hand to you face down, and you must draw a card from it and place it in your own hand. The player to your left then takes their turn as normal.
Note that a "Shanghai" takes precedence over a "May I?". If a player calls "Shanghai" to protect a discard or to take a discard and add it to a meld on the table, this stops any other player taking that card with a "May I?" on that turn.
The Scoring The penalty points for cards remaining in players' hands when someone goes out are as follows:
Card Points 2 - 7 5 points each 8 - K 10 points each Aces 20 points each Jokers 50 points each