The following is a paid review for RummyRoyal.com:
The standard theme for online gaming sites, such as poker, is a green felt look with gold lettering and real looking bits scattered about, such as cards or coins.
This site, although not poker and technically not gambling, proves to be no exception.
A Word About Rummy Not Being Gambling
The site is repetitive and crystal clear in its assertion that rummy games are skill games and not luck games, and so therefore the site is not a gambling site. This means it is (should be) legal in the U.S., although still subject to several restrictive laws from several states since money can be earned and lost. The site actually provides links to the relevant laws for each state in which this applies.
Now I know a thing or two about card games, including poker and rummy, and I would say that the claim that the distinction between rummy as a skill game as opposed to poker is a bit of a stretch. Poker is about calculating odds while managing your tosses, and so is rummy. Good rummy players will win over worse rummy players, but the same is fairly true for poker, although perhaps with less ease.
The only real difference is the player interaction elements. Your choices about what to take or throw must include watching what your opponents take and throw, and you must decide whether and when to knock if you are able to.
Considering how much they would like to distinguish themselves from poker and its association with gambling, I find the choice to model the site, client, and fonts after poker sites to be a rather odd one.
Homepage and Navigation
The front page has a set of tiles that look straight out of Rummikub, which is an indication that within the client you can customize the look of your game as you play it to be either cards or tiles. Cool.
The site is well-layed out and easy to navigate.
In order to actually play, you need to install the client application, something that always scares the bejeezus out of me, especially from a gaming site. Since I didn't see any complaints about them on Google, and since I wasn't required to actually enter any credit card information to play, I bit the bullet and gave it a try.
Installation and Uninstallation
Installing and uninstalling the client was smooth. A check by a registry cleaner didn't detect any problems after the uninstall.
So nu, how was it?
The game was smooth, elegant, and professional, with exactly what I would want from a client and nothing more, and as promised didn't require any payment. Furthermore, the game play was incredibly addicting. I meant to only try out one hand, but ended up playing a few dozen at two different tables.
Even though we weren't playing for money, none of my opponents would respond to my attempts at chatting. Maybe they didn't speak English.
The client really shows the work put into it. It's a shame all of my online board gaming experiences can't be as nice.
One vital piece of information curiously unmentioned anywhere on the website, as near as I could tell, was the fact that the house takes 10% of all antes to the table. That means the pot is slightly less than the ante amount times the number of players.
Furthermore, the payout for victory is 75% of the pot. The remaining 25% of the pot is divided among all players in some proportional basis based on their scores when the round ends.
Since I didn't play for real money, I have no way of saying how difficult it is to actually retrieve your money from the site if you actually try to.
Back to the Site
There are only two annoying parts to the site, and they're not so bad. 1) the big Download Client button floats so that it always remains on screen. And 2) if you spend some time on the site, a little floating banner crosses the screen inviting you to call their live chat support.
The Hard Sell
If you're going to browse the site or play with the client, expect to see lots of ads promising you sign up bonuses, referral bonuses, basically anything to get you playing for real money. They even sent me a followup email offering an additional bonus.
There are promotions, tournaments, and payouts for becoming a site affiliate as well (even a whole separate sub-site devoted to the subject).
None of it was particularly annoying, like popup ads or dizzy animated banners would have been. So no real problems.
The site provides complete rules for the four rummy games you can play on the site: rummy, gin rummy, kalooki, and oklahoma. The rules are well done with illustrations.
The rules add a few interesting variations to my own experiences with Gin, including the ability to meld away single cards that add onto the melds of the guy who called Gin or knocked. This is interesting because it rewards you for not tossing out cards that you think your opponent needs.
I've only played Gin with two players, while the site accommodates up to 4. The luck factor increases with more players because you can't do anything about cards tossed out by some of your opponents. They also have some variations to the scoring that I'm used to.
Other game info
The site contains a short history of each of these four games, as well as a glossary of rummy-related terms used on the site. History is also provided for other rummy games not currently available with an invitation to mail them if you would like to see these games implemented.
In addition to the online support form and an extensive FAQ list, you can click Live Chat from most pages of the site and get a live support representative within a minute or so. Mine was friendly and helpful. Live chat is not available 24 hours a day, but email support is.
Lastly, for those who know what this means, which I don't, the site has been "iTech labs random number audited", which appears to mean that an independent agency has determined that they're not cheating.
If you want to play Rummy online, and only Rummy online, the channel from Rummy Royal is quite nifty, regardless of whether you're playing for money or just for fun. Good support, a nice site, and no problems.