Rummy History

Rummy is an extremely popular game of cards that is played by gamers from all over the world, both online and live. This game originated centuries ago and has an interesting history.

There are many theories that pertain to the origin of this game and the most accredited one is that Rummy first originated in Mexico in the form of a card game called “Conquian.” Some others believe that the game originated in Asia, while others claim its roots in Mexico or Spain.

Conquian was played in Mexico during the middle of the 18th century and many people believe that the game can be traced back to Spain on account of the word “Conquian” being of Spanish origin. In Spanish, the word “Conquian” means “for whom.”

Eventually, the game of Conquian reached America from the territories of Mexico and was soon a big hit in Texas bar rooms and salons where it first emerged during the late 19th century. At this time, the game was called "Cooncan" which was a variation on the pronunciation of the Spanish name of “Conquian.” The game was also called “Coon Can", "Coon-King", "Coon-Can" and "Conkin” by different sectors of the population.

As trade increased between Britain and it colonies, the game of Cooncan moved all the way across the Atlantic to reach English shores. The game of Cooncan was quickly accepted into English society on account of its novelty and unique rules. As the game gained popularity in England, its name underwent yet another transformation, when it took on the name of "Rum." The game earned this name as "rum" was the colloquial term used by the English for "odd" or "queer.” This slowly changed to the word “Rummy.” Rummy was then popularized all over America as people moved back and forth from England to America and vice versa.

Contrary to this theory, John Scarne estimated that Rummy evolved in America. This would mean that the game was actually invented in Southern America under the name Cooncan and later moved to Mexico where it was adopted the people there. Scarne believed that the people there adopted the word “Conquian” for the game as it was closest in pronunciation to “Cooncan.”

Scarne also had another theory on the origins of the game of Rummy, claiming that it had perhaps evolved from a game of French poker developed by the French settlers. This version of poker was first called “Whiskey Poker”; after which the game swapped names with another brand of liquor and came to be known as “Rum Poker.” The game was then shortened to “Rum” and then “Rummy.”

Another section of people believe that the game of Rummy first reared its head in Asia, namely in China, in the form of the game of Mahjong. This game was created in China over 1000 years ago and employs the discard feature used in all Rummy games. The game of Mahjong has similarities with the earliest versions of the game of Rummy, lending some weight to this belief.