Your first thoughts will be “this is Rummikub!” when you see the okey game for the first time, but no, it is not. Although they are very similar, both of them use the same board and pieces, but the rules are different. Okey game is a very much “simplified” version of the Rummikub. But because of this, it has a fast paced gameplay and much more suited for beginners. You can play like a “pro” in mere minutes, that’s how simple (and addictive) is the gameplay.
Origins of the okey game are not that clear, but it is believed that Gastarbeiter’s in Germany started to play it for the first time, during the 60’s. Gastarbeiter is a German word for “foreign workers”. Turkish workers in the Germany during that period developed the okey game using the rummikub as a base. This is probably the “official” game of the Turkish nation because of this reason. You can see it is played almost anywhere in Turkey, especially in the coffeehouses.
You need 4 players to play okey. (But it can be played with two or three people in principle.) There are 106 tiles/pieces in the game. All of them has a numeric value, except the “okey” tile. This tile acts like a joker in each game. First, all of the 106 pieces are placed face down on the table. All of the players mix them thoroughly. Then, they set them up into 21 stacks of five tiles. Each piece in the tile still faces down. All of these tiles can be stacked in front of one player, or each player can take one of them, doesn’t matter or effect anything. Player –whom chosen as a dealer- starts to distribute these tiles to the players. Each player gets 14 pieces; except for the one sitting right next to the dealer. He/she gets 15 pieces, that one extra piece is used for starting the game. Dealer puts one tile in the middle of the game table and throws the dice twice. The first roll determines the “false” joker. The second one is used for the “real” one. Each of these are chosen randomly according to the roll, from the middle tile.
The player with the 15 pieces starts the game by throwing a piece to the table he/she doesn’t need. The player sitting right next to him/her determines that the thrown piece is useful for him/her or not. If useful, he/she takes that thrown piece. If not, he/she can take one piece from the tile at the middle. And the game continues: Throw your piece, take it if it useful, if not, take one from the middle tile. The goal is to collect sets and runs. For example, a set of four consists of same numbers with different colors. Or, you can make a pair with two identical colors. You can also collect runs with three or more consecutive tiles of the same color. When you have a hand of consisting only sets or runs, you win that round. Each team starts the game with 20 points. At the end of each round, winning team loses 2 points. Whoever reaches “0” first, wins.
Okey game is simple but fast, and there are many versions of it. You can play online okey games too, against the computer or other real people. Some of the online casinos also offer the game. But since it is a special version of the Rummikub mostly played in Turkey, finding “real” okey in online casinos is rare. Nevertheless, it is a fun game and you should give it a go, even if you are a Rummikub player. Okey can hook you up easily!
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