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In rummikub, how exactly does the 30-point rule work? Is it:

  • The very first move of each player must be independent of existing stones and with a value of at least 30. There is no 30-point rule in the remainder of the game

or is it

  • When a player plays without using any other stones, e.g. puts a run or a group composed completely of his own stones, this must be at least 30 points.

We weren't sure when playing. Which one is it? We played with the latter, but now it seems it's actually the former.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I am going to guess that you were most likely playing Sabra Rummikub. You almost got it right with the former. The pagat page indicates that:

The first meld made by each player must consist of one or more combinations formed entirely from that player's hand, where the total numbers of the tiles used add up to 30 or more. If a joker is used, it counts as the number of the tile it represents.

So, for the first meld of each hand, you must meld 30 points, since the game is made up of multiple hands.

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