Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hillbilly Rummy - Card Game

Before I post anything else, I need to explain a card game we called Hillbilly Rummy. Why? Because in the future I'm going to share snippets of audio of interviews with my parents about 23 years ago. Both are now deceased. In that audio they speak about a lot of our family history. 

But to get them to talk, I recorded while we were playing "Hillbilly Rummy".  Hoping they would forget that they were being recorded and they did somewhat, but during the audio you hear us playing the card game. I tried to interview them with no distractions. They just were so self conscious it DID NOT work.  This did work but there is no way to edit out the playing of the game.

I don't remember when we started as a family playing Hillbilly Rummy but we had marathons of playing this game. Every family get together, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, picnics...didn't matter after dinner we played Hillbilly Rummy.  It was our time to connect.  Kind of strange really but these crazy games with family got me through some of the toughest times of my life. Because we also took it as a time to discuss our problems or our triumphs with my parents. They absolutely loved to play this game.

So how is it played?  Basically like rummy but with two decks of cards with the jokers. Shuffling that many cards is a challenge. You would shuffle all the cards, and each player takes a turn dealing.  After shuffling, to deal you would turn the first card up and that would determine how many cards each player would start to play with.

Every hand and every player had a different number of cards to begin with. The first card dealt to you was a Joker, you were dealt 20 cards on top of that Joker, if an Ace you are dealt 15 on top of the Ace. If a face card, (King, Queen Jack) it would be 10 cards, the rest of the cards, 2 through 10, would be the amount of that card. A 6 would give you 6 cards, dealt a two you only got 2 cards, (for a total of 3) and could go out easily! I always wanted it to be my turn first and get dealt 3 cards...that played..... and I could go out! Especially if someone else was dealt a joker or ace that same hand. You get all their cards as your score and on the audio .......that's the most cussing.   That's what makes this game a lot more interesting and fun. You never know what you are going to be dealt. It is truly luck of the draw.

There are different Wild Cards every hand too which made it more exciting. Jokers are automatically wild and can be used to create any spread. But the last card dealt to the first person you deal to on any hand, as long as it wasn't an Ace or a Joker, was a wild card for everyone at the table that deal. It helps to keep track of the different wild cards on the score paper, because they changed every hand.

We took turns going clockwise around the table to deal. If you were the dealer, the person on your left was ALWAYS first to play and always had a wild card because it would be their last card turned up to determine what extra card was wild that hand.  If an Ace or a Joker turned up as the last card dealt to the person on the left, then you turned over next card dealt to them until it wasn't an Ace or a Joker.

Spreads were created with at least 3 cards in succession, of any of the 4 suits. You also could have 3 of a kind all the way up to 8 of a kind. (There are two decks of cards, meaning for example you could possibly play 8 jacks if you acquired 8 jacks).

You could play on another persons spread. For example if another person had a spread of 2,3,4 of a suit you could play an Ace or a 5 of the same suit on their spread. Or if they have 3 of any kind as a spread and you have a match you can play on that also.

Discarded cards: This is just like regular rummy. Each hand you have to discard a card. You can draw from the deck or pick up the top card from the discard pile if you don't have anything that makes a spread and can actually just hold that card. My dad was notorious for picking up discarded Aces if it was his turn, the last card thrown away and holding them. Even if he got caught with them.

To pick up from the discard pile further up, you can only go up to the card of a spread you can build with cards in your hand and it has to play that round. You have to take all the cards on top of it.  Be careful of how many cards the other players have. I have made the gamble many times to pick up all the cards from the discard pile needing only the last card to make a 15 point spread, when the person next to me was holding only one card and I'd get caught with all of them in my hand which they would add to their score.

If all the cards in your hand play and you don't have a discard then it's called "floating". Everyone gets another chance to play, as long as you don't have a discard. You are not officially out until you have a discard. The person who is floating, the play just continues to the next player without the floaters discard. The floater just keeps drawing another card from the deck when it is their turn. The rule is you can't pick up the top card of the discard pile if you are floating and then just put it down to go out!! You have to draw. If the card they draw plays and they don't have a discard they are still floating and it can go on until someone plays all their cards, has a discard and goes out.

The most rounds I floated was 7 times. Every card I drew played and I never did go out. Didn't cost me anything but I didn't win anyone else's cards either. My mother many times followed me in play with a high card hand and I would have to float and could NOT go out to get her cards. She was so lucky like that all the time.

Scoring Points
Jokers=200 Aces=100 FaceCards & 10's=10 small card=5
Wild Cards=50 
The real kicker is when someone went out. You don't deduct the amount in your hand from your score, instead the person who went out gets all the remaining cards from all the players held in their hands and could add them to their score. Players who didn't go out can only count what they have played and laid in front of them as a spread to their score. But what you were left holding in your hand not played goes to the person who went out. You can hear on the audio when my mother had wild cards she was holding to make a spread be taken because someone went out. Yep, a cuss word or two.

It was also the value of those cards that you played or were given when going out. Jokers were 200 points, Each hand wild cards were 50, Aces 100 points, K,Q,J,10 cards were 10 points and the rest were 5 points. Trying not to get caught with large point cards in your hand if someone else went out was the way to win the game. You went to a score of 5,000, whoever reached that, won.

So on the audio you can hear my mother and father. She or my dad would be in the middle of a story and someone went out. There was cussing a time or two. I can't edit that out and I'm not going to try. But I thought I would explain it because I will use some of the audio from time to time to let them tell their own stories.

Copyright 2007-2016 Denise A. Smith


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  2. Thank you! I'm not a prolific blogger but I do have several drafts of articles that I hope to get out this fall.