Iranian Gin Rummy

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Palo Alto, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/1/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main description:

AB: “Are there any other Iranian card games you can tell me about that are special to you?”

DB: “I don’t know. Um. I guess there’s one called Ramee, it’s like the Iranian version of gin rummy. Play it a lot at family reunions with the extended family.”

AB: “How is it different from gin rummy?”

DB: “Uh, let’s see. I guess the first difference is the dealing. You deal the cards out three at time three times to each person, so that’s nine cards. Then you deal out a pair of everybody, bringing it up to eleven. Oh yeah, and then you give two extra cards to the person that starts. Then the next thing is that you don’t keep your cards in your hand. But you can’t put any of them down until you can put down a combo that adds up to thirty. So if you had like, three nines, and you hadn’t come down yet, then you can’t play them, because that’s less than thirty. But if you also had, like, an ace-two-three of the same suit, you could play with your nines, because that’s more than thirty. Then you can just play cards normally for the rest of game. Oh, and then you can add your cards to other people’s stuff. So if somebody played three fours and your have the last one, you can add it to theirs. Oh, and the final crazy part are the jokers. You play with jokers, which are wild, and they can be any number you want, so you could play like two-joker-four and that’s cool. But, let’s say someone else has the three that matches your straight’s, it’s um, suit, they can swap in their three for your joker and then use it however they want. Well, not totally, they have to play it that turn with cards from their hand. So you also can’t add a joker you take to something that somebody else has already played.”

AB: “Awesome. So, you said you normally play this game at family reunions, right? Can you tell me about that.”

DB: “Yeah, so we usually play whenever there’s a lot of us together, for a birthday or a holiday or something. Oh and there’s lots of betting. At the end of the game, you have to give the winner money corresponding to how many points are left in your hand. So if you haven’t come down yet, you’re screwed, lol. One time I was really lucky at Christmas and made like fifty bucks off of our relatives. Now they don’t wanna play with me anymore.”

Informant’s interpretation:

AB: “What can you tell me about why this game means to your family?”

DB: “Um, I guess I’ve always thought of it as like. The grown-up game. The kids always play pasur because it’s easy as long as you can do basic math, but only the adults play rami. That game takes strategy. I was in high school when they taught me how to play and I started betting with them, and I just remember feeling so cool sitting at the adult table and winning some money in Rami while my cousins watched me. They were so butt-hurt, lmao.”

Personal interpretation

Most societies distinguish between children’s culture and adult’s culture, and rami seems to be one such distinction. The informant notes that it’s not only that children are prohibited from playing rami because of gambling, but rami is inaccessible to young children in the first place because it requires substantial strategizing to win. In this way, playing rami may be an important mark of adulthood.