How To Play Tongits: A Guide

Tongits is a rummy card game in the Philippines. Like its American counterpart, Tonk, the goal is to have the lowest possible score. Since playing cards are available everywhere, you can find players on the streets. The catch is that Tongits is always a three-player game. The game cannot start when there are only two players.

Because of this, the rules of Tongits are unique in many rummy games. With an odd number of players, it provides interesting results in each game. Fortunately, players of any skill level can play Tongits.

Let this short guide help you to understand the game.

How Tongits Works: An Overview


Tongits require three players to play. Each game uses a standard 52-card deck, and the dealer gives 12 cards to each player. However, the dealer gets 13 cards. Because of this condition, the dealer should be randomly decided before playing.

After choosing a dealer, they will deal with the cards. All remaining cards in the deck will be in the center of the play area. These cards will be the game’s “stock.” The dealer makes the first move, placing the first card on the “discard” pile. Then, the turns move counterclockwise.

Tongits Gameplay

At the start and end of each turn, the player draws a card from the stock and discards another. Players can meld or set their cards. Here’s a difference between sets and melds:

  • A set is adding more cards to an existing meld
  • A meld is a specific collection of cards, similar to poker hands

Each card has a set value, with numbered cards retaining their value. Ace cards have one point. On the other hand, the King, Queen, and Jack cards have ten points. The game can be played long until a player gets the lowest possible score.

Ending A Tongits Game

Compared to other rummy games, tongits have many ways to end. They include the following.

  • Stock-outs – To achieve a stock-out, players must empty the card pile. The last player who gets to draw cannot meld or set that turn. Once there are no more cards left, the game ends.
  • Draw – In getting a draw, the player should know that they have the lowest value of cards. It can be done anytime but can be bad etiquette at the game’s start. You can only draw when it is your turn. When there is a draw, other players can concede or challenge. After the challenge, the player with the lowest points wins.
  • Tung-it – A “Tung-it” happens when a player’s hand is empty. The player can declare “Tung-it” after placing their last card. This results in an automatic win for the player.

Wrapping Up

Tongits has a unique approach among rummy card games. It needs three players, where one acts as a dealer, and it cannot start when there are two players. Once the dealer decides, they will start the game. Then, the game follows each player’s turns until one reaches the lowest score or if a player decides to end. In short, Tongits provide flexibility for all players in ensuring a win.

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