Kalooki is a popular card game which belongs to the “Rummy Family”.
Slightly different versions of the game are played around the world, mainly in Europe and North America but also in Jamaica, South Africa and other countries. It is especially popular in the U.K.
Kalooki may be played strictly for fun, at homes and clubs, or as a real money stakes game at land based and online casinos.
Since Kalooki is so much like Rummy its basic rules are known to many. As described above, there are several versions of the game and so it is a good idea to verify the exact nuances concerning applicable rules before joining a table at a casino where you are playing for the first time.
Rules of Kalooki
Between two to five players may participate simultaneously in a game of Kalooki.
Two full decks of cards and two jokers are used making a total of 106 cards.
A game consists of several rounds during which each player attempts to dispose of their cards. Once a round’s winner was able to dispose of all cards the rest are awarded penalty points according to the cards they have left.
The value attributed to each card is standard, Picture cards – 10 points, cards 2 through 10 – face value, aces – 11 and a joker – 15 (but only 11 when summing the forty points minimum necessary for “coming down” i.e. laying sets of cards on the table).
13 cards are dealt to each player (officially three cards to each player are dealt first, starting with the player directly to the dealers left, then two more, three, two and finally the remaining three). The rest of the cards are placed as a pack, face down at the center of the table.
Players then begin to group their cards into “grouped sets” (or “melds”) and “sequenced sets” (also called “runs”).
A set is at least three cards of the same value but of different houses, e.g. a nine of hearts, nine of spades and nine of diamond. The maximum length of a set is 8 (since two decks are used).
A run is a series of cards of the same house which follow each other in hierarchy, for example 2, 3 and 4 of clubs (an ace can only be part of the high run . . . Q,K,A). The maximum length of a run is 13 (all cards of a certain house).
Once a Kalooki player has groups with card values which sum up to at least forty points they may “come down”, placing groups face up on the table.
In each turn a player takes a card from the upside down deck on the table and discards one of their own. The next player may take the card discarded but only in order to “come down” or to integrate it into an exposed set they have already placed on the table.
A joker may take the place of any card. If a joker is placed on the table as part of a set or a run it may be replaced (by any player providing it is their turn) by the real card it is replacing and then reused.
Winning a Game of Kalooki
Once a player successfully discards all their cards the rest of the players are awarded penalty points according to the cards they have left. Then a new round is played.
Any player who accumulates 150 penalty points is out of the game. The last player remaining with less than 150 penalty points is the winner.
When Kalooki is played for stakes there may be several types of payouts.
The initial stake is paid to the pool by each player at the beginning of the game and collected by the winner at the end of it.
A “call up” payout is an amount paid (by every other player) to the winner of each hand.
A “Kalooki” payout is an amount paid to the winner of a hand who had won by placing all thirteen cards at once.
There may also be a possibility to pay a “buy in stake”. This amount is paid to the pool by a player who has earned over 150 penalty points but wishes to stay in the game.