Michigan Rummy

Name: Michigan Rummy

Number of Players: This game is recommended for 3 to 8 players

Recommended Ages: Best for ages 8 and up

Average Playing Time: Game play varies depending on the number of players


Fans of traditional types of rummy and poker style games will likely enjoy the game. Also known by the name of Tripoli, this casino type game rotates around the mission of having the least amount of cards while also having the most chips. An easy game to play once you have mastered the rules and procedures, this version of the Michigan Rummy card game is an excellent selection as both adults and children can enjoy it.

How to Play

Game play for Michigan Rummy requires the use of a nine-compartment game board tray, a set of 96 betting chips and a traditional deck of 52 cards. This game does require that there be a designated dealer for each hand. If you do not have a person willing to serve as the permanent dealer, you do have the option of rotating dealers after every hand. Simply shuffle the cards and have each player draw one. Keeping in mind that aces are always high and twos are always low, allow the person with the highest card to serve as the dealer for that round.

This version of rummy does require the use of standard casino style betting chips. Before dealing the cards, each player places one chip in each of the eight outside compartments on the circular tray before placing a ninth chip in the center container, also known as the ‘bonus’ compartment. Once the players have placed their chips into the appropriate places, the dealer puts two more chips into each of the nine compartments.

Starting with the player on the left, the dealer deals the entire deck of cards, creating a hand for each of the players, himself and an extra hand, also known as a ‘dummy hand’. The players should check their hands to see if they are holding ‘money cards’. The game board has illustrations of these cards, typically the Jack of spades, the King and Queen of hearts, the Ace of hearts, the Queen of diamonds, the ten of hearts, a 7,8 and 9 of any suit or the King of clubs.

Once the cards are dealt, the dealer has the first option to switch the dummy hand for his own, only if he has no money cards in his hand but he must make the trade without seeing the new hand first. If he has money cards and cannot trade, Michigan Rummy rules require that he then pass the option to the other players, selling the dummy hand to the highest bidder. You can only bid on the hand if you yourself have no money cards in your hand. Once the dealer sells the hand, he or she earns the chips from the sale.

Game play starts with the person seated to the left of the dealer. The player can lay down a card from any suit they wish, however it must be the lowest card of that suit that they have in their hand. Whoever amongst the players has the next highest card in that suit will play it next, continuing the ‘sequence’.

Players will continue to lay down consecutive cards until the pattern is finished by an ace or broken by a card that was dealt into the dummy hand. When the latter happens, the last player to lay down a card will begin a new sequence, starting with their lowest card in a suit of the opposite color of the last.

If you have money cards in your Michigan Rummy hand, you can gain chips by using them in the proper sequence. As the sequence goes along, lay these cards down when appropriate and then take the chips from the properly labeled compartment on the game board, adding them to your pile.

The game of Michigan Rummy has a number of penalties that are built in to the game rules, the first of which revolves around using low cards to lead a suit. You must use your lowest card in the suit to start a sequence; however, you are penalized if you do not lead with the absolute lowest card in the suit, which will always be a two. The penalty for leading with a higher card is paying one chip to each of the other players.

A player must pay a penalty if he or she does not play a card when he is supposed to play it, thereby causing a suit sequence to end. If this happens, the guilty player must pay the bonus compartment the same number of chips that are in the compartment of money card for the suit that was interrupted by the penalty.

Winning the Game

The winner of Michigan Rummy will be the player at the end of the game who holds the most chips. The game ends when someone gets rid of all of the cards in their hand. If you are the first to do this, the chips in the center of the board belong to you. Players who have cards remaining will reorganize them and lay them down.

The player with the best poker hand takes the chips from that compartment. At this point, players will count their chips and determine a winner.


Unfortunately, because you must play the cards in a certain sequence in a Michigan Rummy card game, strategy is not as important as simply paying attention to your cards and what cards are played. The luck of the cards often determines the winner of the game, rather than how savvy the player is.

Final Thoughts

A game that is both fun and engaging, Michigan Rummy is an excellent activity for parties and gatherings for both adults and children. The rules are easy to master, making this type of game perfect for rainy day play or a night with friends.

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