500 Rummy

This description is partly based on a contribution from Kris Huston

Introduction

This is a version of rummy in which points are scored for cards melded and lost for unmelded cards remaining in a player's hand when someone goes out. The game is won by the first player to reach a cumulative score of 500 or more over a series of hands. In this game you are not restricted to taking only the top card of the discard pile - more than one card can be taken in order to reach a card lower down which you can use in a meld.

In books this game is normally called 500 Rum or sometimes Pinochle Rummy (presumably because it shares its target score of 500 with some versions of Pinochle), but in real life it is more often known as 500 Rummy or Rummy 500. Some players call it Gin Rummy, which is confusing as this is also the name of a different game, and many people just call it Rummy.

It has variants known as 1500 Rummy, 2500 Rummy, 5000 Rummy and various other names, in which the target score is higher, a variable number of cards is dealt, and aces and wild cards have a high value. These are described separately on the 5000 Rummy page.

Players and Cards

500 Rummy is played with a standard 52 card deck plus two jokers, 54 cards in all. The game is possible for any number of players from 2 to about 8. When 5 or more people play, two decks shuffled together (108 cards) should be used.

The cards have point values as follows:

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 --- face value (2 for a two, 3 for a three, etc.)
Jack, Queen, King --- 10 points each
Ace, Joker --- 15 points each

Exception: An ace melded with the 2 and 3 of the same suit as part of a sequence meld (see below) scores 1 point instead of 15.

The Melds

As in basic rummy, a meld is a combination of cards from your hand which you place face up on the table, where it stays until the end of a hand. There are two types of combination which can be melded:

  1. A group consists of three or four cards of the same rank, such as heartJ clubJ diamondJ. When more than one deck is used, the cards of a group must all be of different suits. spade6 spade6 heart6 is not a valid group.
  2. A sequence consists of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as heart5 heart6 heart7. An ace can count as low or high but not both at the same time. So diamondA diamond2 diamond3 diamond4 and clubQ clubK clubA are both valid sequences, but spadeK spadeA spade2 is not valid.

As well as melding complete combinations, players are allowed to meld cards which extend combinations which are already on the table. This is called laying off. The fourth card of the same rank can be added to a group of three, or extra consecutive cards of the same suit can be added to a sequence at either end. For example, if heart5 heart6 heart7 is already on the board, any player on their turn can add the heart4 or heart8 or both.

Sometimes, when laying off a card, there is more than one meld it could be attached to. In this case the player laying off must choose which meld to extend. For example, if there is a sequence club7 club8 club9 and a group diamond10 heart10 spade10 on the board, and you have a club10 in your hand, you can choose whether to add your club10 to the sequence or the group, but once it is played, it cannot be moved.

Example: A has put down heart5-heart6-heart7, B has put down club9-spade9-diamond9. B can lay off the heart8 on A's sequence. C can now put down the heart9 and must announce whether it is being added to the hearts run or to C's set of nines. If C added the heart9 to the heart run, D can now extend the run further by laying down the heart10. If C had announced the heart9 as belonging to the set of nines then of course it would not be legal to lay down the heart10 as an extension of the run, which is still only 5-6-7-8.

Jokers are wild, and can stand for any card in a meld, even a duplicate of a card that has already been melded by the same or another player. A player melding a joker must make it clear which rank it represents, and this cannot subsequently be changed. For example, you might meld club6 club7 joker as a sequence, and by putting the cards down in this arrangement you are specifying that the joker represents the club8. Later someone may lay off the club5 or club9 on this sequence, but they are not allowed to change the joker to a club5 so as to lay off a club4.

If you were to meld diamond9 and two jokers you would have to state whether it was meant to be a group of nines or a sequence. If it was a sequence, you would have to choose whether the sequence was 7-8-9, 8-9-10 or 9-10-J. On the other hand, if it was a group, you would not need to specify the suits represented by the jokers. Any player could subsequently lay off a different nine, completing a group of four nines.

Note that a joker does have to represent some specific card. It is therefore not possible to meld a group of (for example) four kings and a joker, because there is no fifth king that the joker could represent. Even if you are playing with two packs, it is a rule that the cards of a group must all be of different suits, so there is no fifth king that can legally be included in the meld.

The Deal

When there are more than two players dealer deals the cards one at a time, clockwise, starting with the person to dealer's left, until everyone has seven cards. In a two-player game the dealer deals thirteen cards to each player. The remaining cards form the stock pile; they are placed face down in a position accessible to every player. The top card of the stock is flipped over and placed face up alongside it. This is the first card of the discard pile. The players look at their cards, and may organize the cards in their hand according to suit or number.

The Play

The person on the dealer's left begins. The turn to play passes clockwise. A turn consists of three parts:

1. The Draw
You must either draw the top card from the stock, and put it in your hand without showing it to the other players, or draw one or more cards from the discard pile. It is always legal to draw the top card from the stock or the top card from the discard pile (but see the variations below). You may take a card from lower down in the discard pile only provided that:
  1. you immediately meld the card - either in a new combination or by laying it off on an existing meld, and
  2. you also take all the cards above (i.e. discarded since) the card you meld.
2. Melding
If you wish, you may meld any valid combinations in your hand by placing them face up in front of you. You may also lay off cards on your own or other players' existing melds. As all melded cards score for the player who melded them, when laying off a card on another player's meld, you place the card in front of yourself, rather than alongside the existing meld.
3. The Discard
Unless you managed to meld all the cards in your hand (in which case the play has ended - see below), you must discard one card from your hand face up on top of the discard pile. If you drew just the top card of the discard pile you must discard a different card. However, if you drew more than one card from the discard pile, then after melding, you may discard again the card that was previously on top of the pile. The cards on the discard pile are overlapped, so that previous discards can be identified.

The play continues until one of the following things happens:

  1. A player has no cards left in hand. This can happen either when a player melds all their cards or when they meld all but one and then discard their last card.
  2. There are no cards left in the stock, and the person whose turn it is does not wish to draw from the discard pile.
As soon as either of these conditions is reached, the play ends and the hand is scored.

Drawing from the Discard Pile

It is very important to understand how to use the discard pile for your advantage. Suppose that the discard pile is as follows:

spade 6 club 4 spade queen diamond ace spade 4 heart 7

You have these cards in your hand: heart2 diamond4 heart5 club8 clubJ clubK diamondK

You want to take the club4 and spade4 from the discard pile to go with your diamond4 to make a group. To get these cards, you must take all the cards from the club4 onwards, leaving only the spade6 in the discard pile. You can then meld the club4 spade4 diamond4, and you have the following cards left in your hand: heart2 heart5 heart7 club8 clubJ spadeQ clubK diamondK diamondA. You discard something you don't need such as the heart2 and the discard pile is then:

spade 6 heart 2

If you had taken the heart7 only, you would have been allowed to keep it in your hand and not meld it. Since you took the cards from club4 onward, you must meld the club4.

Calling "Rummy!"

If a player discards a card which could have been melded, or leaves the discard pile in a state where it contains cards which can be melded without requiring any further cards from any player's hand, then before the next player draws, any player other than the one who just discarded may call "Rummy!" and take the discard pile, as far as the relevant card. This player then completes their turn by melding this card and any others they wish to, and discarding one card. The turn to play then passes to the player to the left of the one who called "Rummy!" and continues clockwise from there.

For example, if there is a club7 club8 club9 on the board and someone discards a club6 or club10, any player other than the discarder can call "Rummy!", take the card and meld it.

Here is another example. Suppose the discard pile is:

club 5 heart ace spade king heart 3 spade queen diamond 4 spade 9

and a player discards a spadeJ, not noticing the spadeK and spadeQ in the discard pile. Any player in the game other than the discarder who notices this mistake can yell "Rummy!" and take all the discards from spadeK onward.

A third example: suppose the discard pile is the same as above, and you have heart5 and heart6 in your hand, among other cards. It is your turn and you draw heart4 from the stock. If you meld your heart4-heart5-heart6 now, any other player can call "Rummy!" and take the top four cards of the discard pile to add the heart3 to your meld. Note that you cannot call "Rummy!" yourself in this case (immediately after your own turn) - you would have to wait until the next player had had their turn, and you could then call "Rummy!" in the unlikely event that no one else had meanwhile taken the heart3 from the pile. For this reason you would generally choose not to meld your heart4-heart5-heart6 yet, but wait until your next turn, when you could use them to take the heart3 if it is still there.

Note that it is not possible to call "Rummy!" after the game has ended. If someone melds all their cards or discards their last card, the game ends immediately and is scored. When ending the game, the player is allowed leave the discard pile in a state where some of the cards in it could be melded, and the other players can no longer claim these cards, because play stops as soon as a player has got rid of all the cards in their hand.

The Scoring

When someone has no more cards left in their hand, or there are no cards in the stock when someone wants to draw from it, the game is over. All the players count the total value of the cards they have melded, and subtract the value of the cards they have left in their hands. Each player's result is added to their cumulative score.

Note that as soon as the play ends, no further cards can be melded. Any cards that players still have in their hands count against them, even if these cards could have been melded.

If the cards left in your hand total more than the cards you have melded, your score for that hand is negative. It is also possible for your cumulative score to be negative - for example if you make a negative score on the first hand.

Further hands are played until one or more players' scores exceed 500. At this point the session ends and the player with the highest score wins. In the event of a tie, further hands are played until there is a single winner.

Variations

Playing without jokers

500 Rum can be played (and originally was played) without jokers.

Card values 5/10/15

Some players count the pip cards 2 to 9 as all worth 5 points. The tens and face cards J, Q, K still count 10 and jokers are 15. The ace counts as 5 points instead of 15 if it is used as a low card in a sequence such as A-2-3.

Card taken from discard pile must always be melded

Most card game books give the rule that in order to draw from the discard pile you must meld. You can take a card you need for your meld plus all the cards on top of it. This rule applies even in the case where you only take the top card from the discard pile - in that case you must meld this top card. If you are not going to meld, you must draw from the stock.

Some play that whenever you take cards from the discard pile, the deepest card you take must be used in a new meld of three or more cards - it is not sufficient to be able to lay this card off on an existing meld.

Calling Rummy

Some only allow "Rummy" to be called if the most recent discard can be laid off on a meld on the table. In this case the caller takes the card and lays it off, scoring for it, and then the game continues with the person whose turn it was to play. In this version there is no calling of Rummy "in the pile", when a buried card can be laid off.

Some do not allow the calling of Rummy at all. Most card game books do not mention the possibility of calling Rummy.

Discard required when going out

Many players require a player who goes out to keep one card so that they can discard at the end of their turn. In this version of the game you are not allowed to meld all your cards, leaving yourself nothing to discard.

Floating

There is a further variation of this called floating. In this version you are allowed to meld all your cards, but as you have no discard the play does not end, but continues around the table while you "float". When the turn comes back to you (if no one else has gone out meanwhile), you can:

  1. draw a card from the stock and discard it, which ends the game, or
  2. take several cards from the discard pile and meld all but one of them, which you discard, ending the game, or
  3. meld the card you draw from the stock or all the cards you draw from the discard pile, and float again for another round, or
  4. draw cards from the discard pile, meld some, discard one, and still have at least one card in your hand, in which case the game is back to normal.

Unplayable discard required when going out

As a further development of the above ideas, some players do not allow a player to go out by discarding a card that could have been melded. In this version, if your final card is playable, then instead of discarding it and going out you have to meld it and become a floater. In this case, if you draw a card from the stock on your next turn and it is playable, you have to meld it and remain a floater for another round. In order to go out you have to have one unplayable card to discard. Note that since it is illegal to pick up just the top discard and immediately discard it again, it is not possible for a floater to go out using the previous player's discard, even if you play the rule that it is normally legal to take the top discard without melding it.

If you try to go out by discarding a playable card, a player who notices this can make you take your discard back and meld it. Alternatively, some play that any other player can call 'Rummy!' and meld your discard. You then become a floater, so you would have done better to meld this card yourself.

Must go out to win

Some play that in order to win the game you must go out (be the person who ends the play by getting rid of all your cards) and you must have a cumulative score of 500 or more. You cannot win if another player goes out, even if your score is 500 or more. If the player who went out has reached 500 or more they win; if not the next player deals and another hand is played. In this version of the game it is possible to win without having the highest score - for example if player A goes out and has a score of 505 while player B has a score of 520, player A has won.

Other 500 Rum Web Pages

Alan Gilfoy has published rules for another version of this game on his Rummy 500 page.

Another set of Rummy 500 rules is available at Rummy.com.

Rummy.ch is a German language site offering rules for Rummy 500 and many other rummy games, plus strategy articles and reviews of online rummy sites and a forum.

Here is an archive copy of Jim Davidson's version of the rules for 500 Rummy.

Software and Online Games

You can play Rummy 500 online for fun or real money at RummyRoyal.

Malcolm Bain has written a Rummy 500 program for Windows with which you can play against computer opponents.

With DreamQuest Software's Championship Rummy Pro you can play 500 Rum against computer opponents. Available for PC-Windows, Palm, Pocket PC and cell phones.

A shareware 500 Rum computer program can be downloaded from MeggieSoft Games.

The collection HOYLE Card Games for Windows or Mac OS X includes a Rummy 500 program, along with many other popular card games.

Special K Software has software to play the game of 500 Rummy. This software is available at www.specialksoftware.com.

Two-player Rummy 500 can be played on line at Game Desire.