Okey-dokey let’s play.

Men playing Okey in a Turkish café

Silivri, Januar 2012

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It smells like Cigarettes and fresh coffee. The men on the tables around us play dominoes, cards or a game that looks like rummy. Dursun looks out for another game of dominoes, cannot find any and puts a box with rummy-tokens on the table instead. When he deals out the tokens in a pretty complicated way I recognize that this is not a normal rummy game. But we just start without any further explanations. “What is the name of the game?” I ask in a mix of English and German. Dursun answers: „Okay“. I try again, point on the tokens and say: „Name“. Dursun repeats: „Okay“. He asks for pen and paper, says „Name“ and writes down „Okey“ in Robertos notebook.

After a foggy day of cycling we were looking for a place to camp in a small village close to Silivri, where we met Dursun and his brother. We had some tea at his place, met all the family and then pitched up the tent in the garden. It was still early in the evening when Dursun asked us if we wanted to join him for a coffee in the saloon.

Dursun looks like he is going to win again soon.

After a couple of rounds I start to understand the game. We mix the tokens and put them in 21 stacks of five tokens each not showing the numbers. One token stays over. Okey is played with 106 tokens in the colors red, yellow, green and black. Each token shows a number between 1 and 13, only two have a little star instead, those are the so-called “false jokers”. In this round I start throwing the dice – it is a four. I count the fourth stack and put the extra token upside down on top of it. Then I throw the dice again – a three. I count the third token from down of the fourth stack, take it out and put it showing it’s number on top of the stack. The token shows the yellow seven, so the both “false jokers” with the little star will count as if they were yellow eights (always one number higher) and the real yellow eights will count as “real jokers” and can be used instead of any number.

Now I give 15 tokens to Roberto, who sits on my right, and 14 tokens each to Dursun and then to myself. If you scroll down you will find a video showing how to deal the tokens correctly. Then each player puts his tokens on his wooden rack that only he can see. Roberto starts this round. He looks at his tokens and discards one of them in front of his rack. This way he forms a stack of face up tokens. Now we all have 14 tokens only. Then it is Dursun’s turn. He can decide now if he has use for the upper (and until now the only) token on Roberto’s stack of discarded tokens or if he prefers to pick one face down token from the middle. After playing, Dursun also discards one token and it is my turn.



The object of the game is to have all 14 tokens fitting in sets and runs. A run is a consecutive row of the same color that contains minimum 3 tokens. As an example it is possible to use the red 9, 10 and 11 or the black 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Now I can shout “Finish!”

After the 13 the 1 can be used like a 14, but it is not possible to put the 2 or 3 also. A set is a collection of three or four tokens with the same number and different colors. This could be yellow, black and red 4. The green 4 could be added also. No color is allowed twice in a set. A game of black 4, black 4, red 4 is invalid.

The “real joker” (in this case the yellow 8 ) can be used irrespectively of its color and number. So it could form a red 4 in the run of red 2, red 3, yellow 8. The “fake joker”, the token with the star can only be used as a yellow eight, for example in the run yellow 6, yellow 7, “fake joker”, yellow 9 or in a set of eights.

The one who first has integrated all his tokens in sets and runs throws his discarded token face down and turns around his rack so the others can prove if he is really done. The other players can review the runs and sets. If there are no errors, everybody else has lost. There is a variation of collecting points, but we have only played the easy version without points.

It takes some rounds until I understand Okey without understanding any Turkish. A couple of times I turn around my rack, smile and say “Finish!”, so loud that all the other men on the tables turn around looking at me. But Dursun only shakes his head, points at one combination and says: “Problem”. I take a sip from my black tea, wait until Dursun finishes his Turkish explanation and try to make sense of it. Roberto does not understand any better but after the third glass of tea we understand the meaning of the “fake” and “real joker” and after the fourth glass I start winning. The more often I can shout “Finish!” and get the attention of the other men on the tables around us, the more I like the game. I could have gone on playing for hours.

On the following day we make our way to Istanbul. On the bazaar I only keep looking out for nothing but an Okey game in travelling size. Unfortunately I do not find any. If any of you dear readers find a tiny Okey somewhere please let us know!


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  1. Fernando Vázquez & Deysi Díaz says:

    Hi Annika & Roberto,
    We want to wish you the very best in this 2012 and we love to see you in your BLOG. You may remember us from kabbalah group in Tijuana BC. We’re following you pretty close in your adventure and Turkish is a great place to be and the people there look pretty friendly.
    Please take care!!
    Deysi & Fer

    • Tasting Travels Team Tasting Travels Team says:


      Desdeluego que me acuerdo mucho de ustedes. Los del grupo de Kabbalah les tengo mucho aprecio. Gracias por apoyarnos y seguramente cuando le demos la vuelta al mundo los estaremos viendo en Tijuana. Un gran abrazo.

  2. Héctor says:

    Is this game more fun/difficult than Rummy? I guess it can be played with a Rummy set.

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  4. Tasting Travels Team Tasting Travels Team says:

    Hello Héctor! Yes it can be played with a Rummy set, the only thing you would have to ad is a dice. In my opinion it is more fun than Rummy and a lot easier, because you do not have to count too much and though the Joker changes with every round it confuses the players and at has already happened to both, me and Roberto, that we have accidentially thrown it out. Let us know how you liked it if you try it out yourself!

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