The History of Rummy

History of rummy is an unclear one. The actual origins of rummy are unknown, but there are different theories. Some say that it originated from China, some say it evolved from poker, other people say it originated from Spain. Here we will take a look at all these theories and you can decide which you like best.

China theory

There is more than one game of chines origin similar to rummy. One of these games is Mah Jong, that is actually played with tiles, but has certain similarities to rummy. Interesting thing is, that it dates back more than 1000 years, so it could very well be the actual origin of rummy. The second similar game would be Khanhoo, which also shares characteristic with rummy (like forming combinations), but is much younger dating back to the beginning of the 19th century.

Poker theory

One theory says that rummy originated from poker (check out poker history here). This is due to the fact that the two games share certain similarities, like forming the same combinations (run in rummy is similar to a straight flush in poker and sets are the same thing in both games). Also, the name rummy and the game itself is supposed to develop from Whiskey Poker that was later called Rum Poker and eventually only Rum and then Gin. So the history of rummy is closely connected to poker history.

Spanish theory

It says that rummy games are a decedent of a Spanish game called Conquian. Supposedly the game was developed in Spain and then made its way to Mexico from where it spread over north America. There is somewhat of a twist dough, there is another theory that it was actually the other way around, that rummy was formed in America and exported to Mexico where it was named Conquian.


Experts mostly agree that rummy games are a direct decedents of Conquian, but since the game of Mah Jong is the oldest, who knows, it could even be that Conquian somehow evolved from Mah Jong. It's really up to you to decide what theory to trust.

Did Rummy evolve from Mah Jong?

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