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The history of the popular card game Rummy

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Rummy is a popular card game that is not just played by people as a gamble but amongst family and friends as well to pass time. Today this game can even be played online with money. Popular all over the world, this game has been played by a wide range of people. This enticing game has an interesting history as well. There are several theories based on the origin of this game, but the one that is most accredited is that Rummy first originated in Mexico as a card game named “Conquian.” Others believe that the game originated in Asia, some also believe that the game has its roots in Spain.

Conquian was extensively played in Mexico in the middle of the 18th century, and several people are of the belief that this game can be traced back to Spain, as Conquian is a name of Spanish origin. In Spanish the word Conquian means ‘for whom’.

When the game of Conquian reached America from Mexico, it was easily adapted and was a big hit; especially in the Texas bar rooms and salons (here was where it first emerged during the late 19th century). By this time the name of the game had undergone some transition and was called "Cooncan". This was actually the variation of the pronunciation of the Spanish name of “Conquian”. The other pronunciations popular of the game include “Coon Can", "Coon-King", "Coon-Can" and "Conkin”

As we know cultures of a nation travel abroad when trade increases, same was the case with rummy’s ancestor “Conquian.” As trade between Britain and its colonies increased, the game of Cooncan moved all the way across the Atlantic to the English shores. This game was an instant hit in the English society on account of its novelty and unique rules. Here the name of the game underwent another transition. The name popular here was “Rum.” This was the colloquial term used by the English for "odd" or "queer.” Gradually it changed to “Rummy.” Later rummy got popular all over America as people travelled between the countries.

However, John Scarne, a famous American magician and book author specializing at card game manipulations, has a different theory to offer. As per him, Rummy evolved in America. This implies that the game originated in Southern America under the name Cooncan and later moved to Mexico where it was adopted by the people there. He believes that the name “Conquian” was adopted as it was closest in pronunciation to “Cooncan.”

As per another theory by John Scarne, Rummy could have also evolved from a game of French poker developed by the French settlers. This game was first called “Whiskey Poker.” Later the name of the game was swapped with another kind of liquor and was known as “Rum Poker.” After some time the name was shortened to “Rum” and then “Rummy.”

Today, the game of rummy that we play is an amalgamation of the rules followed then and the ones that have emerged over the years.

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