Frustration Rummy is a rummy-style card game typically played by 2-5 players using two decks of cards plus jokers. Overall, this is quite an entertaining game that involves both luck and strategy.
A fun fact is that you can find specially-made wooden scoring boards for this game in particular. We haven’t seen that for any other contract rummy game.
The objective is to be the first player to complete all 14 melding contracts in the precise order. The meld requirements start simpler and get progressively more complex over the sequence of contracts.
In short, these are the key Frustration Rummy rules:
- Each player is dealt 13 cards to start
- Must make 14 melds in order: sets and runs
- Can only begin melding after completing target contract
- Take turns drawing from draw or discard piles
- First to complete all contracts in order wins
- Jokers and 2s are wild cards
Deal and Setting Up
To set up a game of Frustration, the dealer shuffles together two full standard card decks plus 4 jokers to make a 108-card deck.
The dealer then deals each player a hand of 13 cards.
The remaining cards are placed face-down in a central draw pile with the top card turned face-up next to it to begin a discard pile.
The two types of melds in Frustration Rummy are simple sets and runs. The standard.
- A set consists of at least three cards of matching rank, such as 7♠ 7♦ 7♥.
- A run is made up of four or more cards of the same suit in sequential order, like the 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ 7♠ (all spades).
- Jokers and 2s can be used as wild cards to substitute for other cards when forming melds.
The rank of cards from high to low is as follows: A, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K. Aces can be either high or low. This means that both A-2-3-4 and 10-J-Q-K-A are valid runs.
Contracts or Rounds
Players must complete the following 14 meld contracts in precisely this order over a series of rounds:
|3 Sets of 3
|1 Set of 3 & 1 Run of 4
|2 Sets of 3 & 1 Run of 4
|2 Sets of 4
|2 Runs of 4
|4 Sets of 3
|1 Set of 3 & 1 Run of 7
|3 Sets of 4
|3 Runs of 4
|2 Sets of 5
|2 Runs of 5
|2 Sets of 4 & 1 Run of 4
|2 Runs of 4 & 1 Set of 4
|1 Set of 3 & 1 Run of 9
Frustration Rummy gameplay follows typical rummy protocol. The player to the left of the dealer goes first by either drawing the top card of the face-down pile or the face-up discard pile.
The player then has the option to meld if they’ve fulfilled the requirements of their current contract. Players can only begin melding after completing their target contract.
After melding or not, a player ends their turn by discarding one card face-up to the discard pile. Play continues clockwise with each player drawing, optionally melding, and discarding.
Once the initial pile depletes, the discards are reshuffled (except the top one) to make a new draw pile.
The first player to complete all 14 of their meld contracts in order from 1 to 14 over a series of hands wins the game. There is no point scoring. Successfully completing a contract allows a player to advance to attempting the next one in a later round.
The progress can be kept on a piece of paper. However, there actually exist wooden boards specially made for Frustration Rummy. These boards have holes and use pegs to keep track of players’ current meld.
Below is an example of how these boards look like:
Focus on Fulfilling Contracts First
The number one strategic tip is to focus first on completing your current meld contract before attempting additional melds. Quickly finishing your target contract allows advancement to the next challenging one.
Take Advantage of Existing Melds
Making strategic discards that contribute cards to melds already on the table (yours or opponents’) helps efficiently use cards in hand while progressing game play. If another player has melded cards that could help you finish your contract, discard cards from your hand that fit those melds.