“Do you know what we’ve forgotten to do?” I asked my mother. We looked at each other, smiled, and both said “Play cards!”
Considering we were only one day into a four day escape in the Winnebago it wasn’t fair to say we’d actually forgotten. But I was very happy to see that she was also looking forward to a game, and that it didn’t take much to convince my father to join us around the card / dinner / work table.
Over the last few trips together we’d gotten into the habit of playing a frustrating game called Frustration. This time my folks had a new game to teach me. Bush Rummy.
I loved it. So much so that on the last day I decided I’d make a note of the rules and do my best to explain them here so other travellers and card game lovers could give them a try. So here goes…
How to play Bush Rummy:
I’m sure there are a number of variations of this game. But this is how my parents were taught by the Motorhome (or RV) group,the Clarence Valley Ramblers at an Australian rally. And this is how they taught me.
You only need two people to play, but can have any number you like as long as you have enough cards.
Start with two packs of cards for a small group and add more if you need them for extra players. Aces can be used as high or low, but are counted high if you’re caught with one.
Trickily, two is a special card and counts for 15 points. Other number cards are counted at face value, and then 11 for Jacks, 12 for Queens, 13 for Kings, 14 for Aces, 15 for Twos.
Start by dealing three cards.
Cards are dealt face down, with the next card face up. The person who goes first can then choose that card or one from the deck. They must also throw one out.
To go out, you must have all of your cards in a group of three or more of a kind, or a run of three or more in the same suit.
Here comes another fun bit… with the first hand, which is three cards, the three is wild.
Next hand is four cards, and four is wild. Next comes five cards, five is wild and so on.
Keep on going until you get all the way up to 15 cards in your hand, and two is wild.
Up until five cards, you have to have five of a kind or a run of five in the same suit. When you reach six cards and above you can put down combinations of three or above.
You have to be able to throw out a card at the end, and put down all of your other cards at the same time to go out.
When someone goes out, the remaining players can put down their cards which are already in the correct groups of three or more, and then count up the remainders.
But it’s not over when you get to 15 cards in your hand… after two is wild, you then start to work your way backwards again – Ace, King, Queen, Jack…. until you’re back to three cards.
The aim of the game is to have the lowest score at the end, and based on the games we played, the scores can easily go from being just a few points apart to a few hundred.
I love the way it keeps you on your toes. Between the wild card and the number of cards in your hand changing each time, there’s no dozing off in this game. And I like the way it puts the Bush in the Rummy. A nice Aussie touch.
So there you have it. Bush Rummy! (Or our version at least).
So do tell… do you also love to break out the card games when you go camping? And what game makes you want to stay up past your bedtime to play one more hand?
And if you’re looking for some more ideas for games everyone from young kids to card shark adults can play, you may want to get your hands on a copy of Alfred Sheinwold’s 101 Best Family Card Games. That will keep you busy on a rainy day.