Black Heart Rum
3rd Edition

Standard Rules for Rummy


The object of all rummy games is to score points by playing cards to the table in sets.  Valid sets are:

     A group of three or more cards of the same rank, for example, 7♣+7♠+7.

     A series of three or more cards of the same suit, in order, for example, 2−3−4.


Players take turns dealing.  Each player is dealt 10 cards, face down.  The next card is turned up to start the discards row.  The remaining cards are placed face down as the draw pile.  Players then take turns to play.


Each player begins her turn by drawing a card, either the top card of the draw pile, or any card from the row of discards.  A card taken from the discards must be played during that turn.  All the discards following the chosen card must be taken in hand as well, though these do not have to be played right away.

After drawing, the player may play any sets she holds, but is not required to do so (unless a discard was drawn).  The player may also lay off extra cards onto a previously played set—including an opponent's set—if the added cards will make a bigger set.  For example, a 5 & 6 could be played onto the series listed above, extending it to five cards.  Layoff cards are placed in front of the person playing them, and count for that player.

After playing any cards she wishes, the player ends her turn by discarding a card.  The card is placed face-up onto the row of discards, overlapping the previous discard.  The next player then takes her turn.

End of Deal

If a player runs out of cards in her hand—either because she played them all or because she discarded her last one—the player goes out and the deal ends.

At the end of each deal, points are scored for each player by adding up the cards played and subtracting the cards left in hand.  Bonus points are awarded to the player who went out.  See the Scoring Chart for details.


A player wins the game by going out while reaching a total score of 500 or more points.  If any player reaches 500 points but was not the last player to go out, the game continues.

Special Rules for Black Heart Rum


Black Heart Rum is a variation of rummy that treats court cards—J, Q & K—and hearts differently from the other ranks and suits.  All the Standard Rules listed above apply, plus the following additions.


From two decks of cards, remove all the heart court cards and all the diamonds except for one set of court cards.  This leaves: A-K♠ x 2, A-K♣ x 2, A-10 x 2, and J-K x 1 (75 cards total).


Whenever a black (♠/♣) court card is played, a heart () of any rank must accompany it as an escort.  For example, to play a Q−K−A series, two hearts are needed: Q♠/6−K♠/3−A♠.  Hearts may also be played in a group with other pip cards—A to 10—of the same rank, or in a series of hearts.

Series in the black suits may wrap around from K back to A, then 2, and so on; series in the red suits do not wrap around.  See Standard Rules for details on dealing and winning conditions.


Each player’s first play of a deal is restricted based on the player's score.  See the Opening Chart for details.  Once the opening play is made, further plays—including in the same turn—are allowed without restriction.

If a player is able to go out by playing her entire hand without previously opening, a Black Heart, she may, regardless of her opening requirement.  She also receives extra bonus points.  See Scoring Chart for details.


The J, Q and K of diamonds () are used in three ways:

1.    Together in a fixed series, a Diamond Royale, which may be used as an opening play regardless of score, and which has a special point value for the set as a whole.  See Reference Charts for details.

2.    As a J, Q or K in a group, without an escort; for example, J♠/2+J♣/7+J.

3.    As specific wild cards, along with an escort if played in place of a black court card:

     The J may be used in place of any heart:  6−J−8, or 10♣−J♣/4−Q♣/J.

     The Q may be used in place of any spade or club:  3♠−4♠−Q, or K♠/9+K♣/5+Q/A.

     The K may be used in place of any card, including the J or Q:  Q♣/2+Q♠/7+K (as the Q).

Any player—owner or opponent—may swap a played diamond (not in a Diamond Royale) for a card in her hand, plus escort if necessary, if the swap leaves in place a set of the same rank(s).  For example, the K in the previous example may be replaced with a Q♣/10 pair.  A player may make this trade before opening.  If a player draws a card from the discards to make the trade, she must play the swapped diamond that same turn.

Reference Charts

Opening Each Deal

Scoring Each Deal

Game Score

Cards (w/ escorts) in Sets

Less than 0

No minimum requirement

Zero to 99

  3 or more cards in 1 set

100 to 199

  4 or more cards in 1 set

200 to 299

  5 or more cards in 1 set

300 to 399

  8 or more cards in 2 sets

400 to 499

  9 or more cards in 2 sets

500 or more

10 or more cards in 2 sets


 Royale or Black Heart


Score (+played, −held)


  15 points each

2 – 9

    5 points each


  10 points each

J – K ♠/♣

  10 points each

J, Q & K

  10, 15 & 20 pts.


150 points total

Going Out

  25 bonus points

Black Heart

+25 × (# players in game)

Black Heart Rum and the TM logo are trademarks of Tobias Oscar Vaughn.  Rules ©1996-7, 2003, 2009 by Tobias Oscar Vaughn. 
License granted to reprint content if provided in whole, including this notice.

Last updated 19th November 2009

A PDF version of these rules, suitable for printing, is available here.
A PDF file with aids for remembering opening contracts is available here.
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