Scoring Rummies

This is an archive copy of a page from the former website, with thanks to Howard Fosdick for permission to republish it here.

500 Rummy

This is a game for two to six players. For two, three, or four players, use one 52-card deck. For five or more players, use two 52-card decks shuffled together. For two players, deal 13 cards each. For three or more players, deal 7 cards each.

Place one card face-up to begin the discard pile, while remaining cards become the drawing stock.

The game is won by the first player to score 500 or more points across as many hands (deals) as it takes.

As in most scoring rummy games, cards played in table melds score points for a player, while cards left in hand score against that player.  

Melds consist of three or more cards as a set of the same rank, or in same suit and sequence. Sequences may be longer than four cards (unlike many rummies where all melds stop at four). Players may lay down one or more cards to melds on the table during their turn. Players may play off their own melds or their opponent’s melds. When laying off card(s) on opponent’s melds, players place them on their own side of the table (for clear scoring later).

Card values are--

Ace 15 points when played high in a meld (A-K-Q)
  5 points when played low in a meld (A-2-3)
K down to 10 10 points
9 down to 2 5 points

Aces can be played either in high sequence or low, but not around the corner (K-A-2-3). There are no wild cards in 500 Rummy.

In his turn--

  1. The player takes one card from the top of the drawing stock. Or, he may take one or more cards from the discard pile. All cards in the discard pile are fanned out such that all are visible.  The player must immediately meld the bottom-most card he selects from the discard pile. He then must take all the cards above it into his hand.  He may then meld or keep these cards in hand, through the rest of his turn, as able.
  2. The player makes any and all meld(s) he cares to. He may play card(s) to his opponent’s melds. In doing so, he lays those cards on his side of the table, stating what melds they are part of.
  3. The player discards one card, face-up, on top of the discard pile. This should be fanned such that all cards in the discard pile remain visible.

The hand (deal) ends when any player goes out (rummies). A player may or may not discard when going out, as he desires. There is no bonus for rummying.


Concentrate on scoring higher cards early in the game. Dump them to the discard pile if you sense an opponent is about to rummy. Taking up the discard pile is a calculated risk -- it enables you to score but can be devastaing if you are caught with many cards in hand at the end of the deal. 500 Rummy is therefore, above all, a game about calculating how close opponents are to rummying. A fine sense of when the hand might end greatly advantages a player.

Rules Variations

We use the so-called simplified scoring. In traditional scoring, cards ranking below 10 score their individual face values. Some variants of the game use one or two Jokers as wild cards.

For Further Information

The authoritative source on this game is usually considered The Official Rules of Card Games, published continuously since 1898 by the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

500 Partnership Rummy

The rules are the same as in regular 500 Rummy (above), except that partners sit across the table from one another.  When any one player rummies, the hand stops. Partners compute a single joint score, based on their positive and negative points. 

Persian Rummy

This is another form of 500 Partnership Rummy. This variant adds four Jokers to the deck for a total of 56 cards.  Jokers may only be melded in groups of Jokers (they are not wild cards and can not be melded in any other manner). Jokers are worth 20 points when melded, or -20 points each if held in hand at the end of the deal.

Any meld of four cards laid down at once count double. For example, four Jokers laid down in one meld at one time score (4 X 20)  X 2 = 160 points. However, three Jokers melded together only score 3 X 20 = 60 points. The fourth Joker, if later added, also scores another 20 points, for a total of 80 points for the entire meld. 

This doubling also applies to other melds. Three 2’s played at once score 15 points, but four 2’s played at once score 40 points.

For Further Information

Consult the The Official Rules of Card Games, published by the United States Playing Card Company.

Fortune Rummy

This is a game for anywhere from two to eight players. It works best with four or five.

The game uses two standard decks of 52 cards. Each player is dealt 11 cards, and one card is left face-up on the table to start the discard pile. The remaining cards become the drawing stock.

The object of a hand is to score points by melding cards to the table. Any cards left in one’s hand at the conclusion of a hand count against the player holding them. The first player to win at least 500 points across as many hands (deals) as it takes wins the game.

Deuces are wild and can used to represent any other card. Card point values when played in melds to the table are—

K down to 8 10 points each
7 down to 3 5 points each
Ace 10 points when played high in a meld (A-K-Q)
  5 points when played low in a meld (A-2-3)
2 10 points when representing K through 8
  5 points when representing 7 through 3
  10 points when representing the Queen of Spades
Queen of Spades 50 points each

Cards left in a player’s hand at the end of the deal counts points against that player--

K down to 8 -10 points each
7 down to 3 -5 points each
Ace -10 points each
2 -10 points each
Queen of Spades -50 points each

The valid melds are the same as Gin Rummy—

  1. 3 or 4 cards of  the same rank
  2. A sequence of 3 or more cards in the same suit

You can have any number of cards in a sequence meld but only a maximum of four in a set meld. Aces may be played either high or low, but not “around the corner” (K-A-2-3). Deuces can not be melded together in a 2’s meld, they can only act as substitutes for cards of other values in melds.

In his turn —

  1. The player takes one or more cards into his hand. He has a choice: he can take either the single top card of the drawing stock, or he can take all the cards in the discard pile.
    If the player takes up the discard deck, he must immediately put down a meld in which the topmost discard is embodied. This meld must include at least two cards from the player’s hand. The player will do this first, prior to taking up all remaining cards in the discard pile as required. This prevents reneging (error) in an attempt to pick up the discard pile.
  2. The player places face-up on the table any meld(s) he wishes to play. A player may add cards to his own melds on the table but may not play on opponent’s melds.
  3. The player ends his turn by playing one card face-up to the top of the discard pile. Cards in the discard pile are squared such that only the single topmost card is visible at any time. Players may not look at any cards in the discard deck hidden by the topmost card.

A hand ends when one player rummies all his cards to the table. A player can optionally discard a one card when going out.

At the conclusion of the hand, each player scores the difference (positive or negative) between the totals of the cards he has scored to the table versus those cards still in his hand. The player who rummies does not get a bonus for going out. However, he does not score any negative points for cards in his hand (since he doesn’t have any).

In the rare event that the discard pile goes empty while play is in progress, all cards in the discard pile are immediately turned over (with the exception of the upcard) and the hand continues with those cards as the new stock. The cards are not shuffled, just turned over.


Similar to most scoring rummies, play your points to the table. Don’t get caught with them in hand (especially heavy cards). Track when your opponent might rummy and dump high cards to the discard deck just prior to this. Score Queens of Spades as quickly as possible if you draw them, because if you draw them late in the game, you may have little chance to meld them. Optimize the use of your deuces to maximize your score. Consider keeping one in hand to prevent from being caught with the Queen of Spades for penalty.

Rules Variations

Most play that you can not discard the Queen of Spades unless you have no other card. A few play that you can play more than 4 cards to a single set meld. When the draw stock runs out, some shuffle the discards before reconstituting the stock from them, while others merely turn them over without shuffling.

More Information—  Scarne on Cards is the original source for this game which appears in some other books.

Arlington (or Oklahoma Rummy)

While Fortune Rummy is little known today, its sister game Arlington is widely popular. The rules of the game are highly similar to those of Fortune Rummy (described above). Here we just summarize the differences between the two games.

Use two standard card decks, as in Fortune Rummy. Deuces are still wild. However, deal each player 13 cards (instead of 11), and play to 1,000 points across hands to win the game (instead of 500).

Rules for the discard deck, taking it up into one’s hand, and melding are all the same as in Fortune Rummy. As before, players can only add to their own melds on the table.

Card values differ slightly—

K down to 8 10 points each
7 down to 3 5 points each
Ace 20 points (whether played high or low in a meld)
2 10 points when representing K through 8
  5 points when representing 7 through 3
  25 points in a meld of Deuces only (Scarne rules only)
  50 points when representing the Queen of Spades (Scarne)
Queen of Spades 50 points each

You may meld a set of deuces only, in which case each 2 in the meld scores 25 points. Deuces can not represent the Queen of Spades unless they replace that card in a meld that is otherwise fully natural (eg: King of Spades, Deuce, Jack of Spades).

The Queen of Spades can not be discarded, unless you have no other card in your hand.

Negative points are the same as above, with the exception that Queens of Spades in hand count –100 points each. Deuces in hand count –20 points each.

A player who rummies scores an extra 100 points for the feat (versus Fortune Rummy, which has no going-out bonus.)

Joker - Optional Rule

ome add one Joker as a special wild card that counts 100 points when melded or –200 if caught in hand at deal’s end. Whoever melds the Joker may later take it back in hand by replacing it with the natural card it represents. They may then use the Joker again later. Some play that only the person who first melded the Joker may take it back; others play that anyone may take the Joker in hand by replacing it with its natural card in the meld.

Rules Variations

Some sources state that, as in Fortune Rummy, a player can only take up the discard pile by melding its topmost card with at least two cards coming from his hand (Parlett). Others merely say one must immediately meld the top discard, without saying one must include two cards from one's hand in this meld, so melding the topmost discard with any combination of existing table melds or cards from one's hand is permitted (Scarne, USPC). I've found either rule supports a fine game. Most play that set melds max out at 4 cards and that sequences can be of any length but a few disagree.

More Information

These rules are from Oxford: A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett and Scarne on Cards.


Skarney is a rummy game in which scoring is both a matter of playing melds to the table and going out first (rummying). It is a bit like Canasta or Fortune Rummy. Along with Persian Rummy, it is one of the very few rummies that makes a fine partnership game for four players.

Skarney was invented by John Scarne, a magician who befriended Houdini, mobsters, and  Presidents. His life was full -- and so interesting he wrote not one but two autobiographies. Here are complete rules to Skarney--


To win a Hand by scoring the most points by melds to the table. To win a Game by winning the most total points across 7 hands.

Deck and Deal

This game can be played by 2, 3, or 4 players individually, or by 4 players in 2 partnerships of 2 players each. We describe the partnership game below first, then the individual-play version.

Use two 52-card decks and add in 4 Jokers, for a total of 108 cards. All 2's and Jokers are wild cards; they can represent any other card in the deck.

The rank of the cards is-- A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. 

  • Aces can be played either high or low  (example: A-2-3 or Q-K-A). 
  • Aces can not be played "around the corner"  (example: K-A-2).

Deal 11 cards to each player. All remaining cards become the draw pile. Do not turn up any card to start the “discard pile” -- unlike most rummy games, there is no discard pile in this game.


Matched cards or melds are played to the table in this game. Cards in melds are scored at the end of the hand, and they determine (in large part) your score for the hand.

You can make two kinds of melds in this game--

  1. Sets (groups of 3 or more cards of the same rank).  Example: 4-4-4
  2. Sequences (3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence). Example: spade4-spade5-spade6.

Recall that 2’s and Jokers are wild. A meld can have 0 or 1 wild cards in it but  never more than 1.

  • Valid--   3-Joker-3-3
  • Invalid-- 3-Joker-2-3-3 (contains more than 1 wild card)
  • Invalid-- 3-2-5-6-2 in Spades (contains more than 1 wild card)

You can also make special melds consisting solely of matching wild cards. These consist of three or more 2's or Jokers.  

  • Examples: 2-2-2 or Joker-Joker-Joker-Joker

2's and Jokers played in these special melds score more points than they do when played as wild cards mixed into other melds.

You can extend your and your partners' melds (but not your opponents' melds) by adding either 1 or 2 cards to any or all of your melds in your turn. 

At the start of a hand, your immediate goal is to make your team's contract meld and put it down on the table. Until you and your partner make your team's contract meld, you are not allowed to make any other melds. Once your side has made your contract meld, you may:

  1. Add either 1 or 2 cards to any or all of your team's meld on your turn
  2. Place any number of additional melds you want down on the table (these melds contain 3 or more cards each)

Remember that you may never play cards on your opponents melds.

The contract meld is as follows. For the first 3 hands, it consists of either--

  1. Three Sets of 3 cards each, or
  2. Three same-suit Sequences of 3 cards each

For hands 4 through 7, the contract meld consists of--

  1. Four Sets of 3 cards each, or
  2. Four same-suit Sequences of 3 cards each

So in hands 1 through 3, your contract meld consists of exactly 9 cards. In hands 4 through 7, your contract meld consists of exactly 12 cards.

You can not put down more or less cards for your contract meld. As always, each Set or Sequence in the contract meld may include up to one wild card (2 or Joker).

Once either player on a side plays the contract meld, the contract meld requirement is considered fulfilled for both players on that team.


In his turn, a player does the following--

  1. Draws 1 card from the top of the draw pile.
  2. He may exchange a natural card for any 2 or Joker his opponents have played as a wild card in their melds.
    • For example, one of your opponents has the set 4-4-Joker before him. You may take his Joker up into your hand by laying a 4 in his meld to replace it.
    • You may not take up 2's or Jokers that are not used as Wild cards.   For example, if an opponent has a set of 2's or Jokers  (eg: 2-2-2 or Joker-Joker-Joker), you can not replace and take up the wild card into your hand.   You can only "exchange" for 2's or Jokers used as wild cards to represent some other card in the deck.
    • Once you have exchanged for a 2 or Joker and taken it into your hand, you may use it whenever you like. (You are under no obligation to immediately use it).
    • You may not exchange for a wild card in your own or your partner's melds, you may only exchange for wild cards used in your opponents' melds.
  3. If you have not yet played your contract meld to the table and are able to do so, you play it now.
    • If you have already played your contract meld to the table, you may--
      1. Play any additional melds to the table you like
      2. Lay off either 1 or 2 additional matching cards to any of the existing melds created by yourself or your partner, if you like
  4. If you have more than 1 card in your hand, you now display 1 card to your opponent to your left and ask if he wants it. If yes, he takes it into his hand. If no, you offer the card to the remaining 2 players around the table in clockwise order until someone accepts it into their hand.
    • If no one accepts the potential discard, you keep it in your hand.
    • If you only have 1 card left in your hand at the end of your turn, you say "1 card"  and do not offer a potential discard to the next player.
    • Aces and wild cards (2's and Jokers) are only offered to the next player to your left. If he does not accept it into his hand, you do not offer it to the other players.  Instead you merely keep it in your hand.
    • Whenever a player accepts and takes an Ace, 2, or Joker into his hand as an opponent's discard, that player skips step (1) and does not draw a card from the draw pile at his next turn.  Aces, 2's, and Jokers are thus stop cards -- they stop an opponent from drawing a card at the start of his turn. For all other potential discards, whether a player accepts them into his hand or not, he always draws one card from the draw pile to start his turn.

End of a Hand

A hand ends in either of two ways--

  1. Any player goes out ("rummies") by melding his last card to the table, or
  2. A player draws the last card from the draw pile and does not go out.  He melds any last cards, then does not offer a potential discard and play stops.


The partnership that rummies gets a hand bonus of 100 points for hands 1 through 3.  This hand bonus increases to--

  • 200 points for hand 4
  • 300 points for hand 5
  • 400 points for hand 6
  • 500 points for hand 7 

If a partnership rummies before their opponents play their contract meld, they get an additional 200 point shutout bonus in addition to the hand bonus.

If no partnership rummies (the game ends with the last card from the draw pile), the team with the higher number of points wins the hand and scores the hand bonus.

If no partnership rummies and the two teams have the exact same number of points, the hand does not count and no team wins it. (This case is extremely rare).

In addition to one team scoring for going out or rummying, both teams score points for all cards they have in their melds on the table. Here are the points scored for each melded card --

  • Joker (in a special Joker-only meld = 100 points
  • Joker (used as a wild card) = 50 points
  • 2 (in a special 2’s-only meld) = 50 points
  • 2 (used as a wild card) = 25 points
  • Ace = 15 points
  • K, Q, J, 10 = 10 points
  • 9,8,7,6,5,4,3 = 5 points

For the side that did not rummy (if any), subtract these points for each card still in their hands--

  • Joker = 100 points
  • 2 = 50 points
  • Ace = 15 points
  • K, Q, J, 10 = 10 points
  • 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 = 5 points

Rules Differences for Individual Play

Skarney can be played by 2, 3, or 4 persons as individuals. This game is called Skarney Singles. All rules are the same--

  • Players may swap for the 2's and Jokers of any of their opponents in a turn.
  • Players may only lay off (add cards to) their own melds.
  • A player who goes out only receives the shutout bonus of 200 points if none of his opponents has yet played their contract meld.

Skarney Strategy

We won't spoil the fun by spilling too much about winning strategies. Explore the game for yourself -- half the fun is figuring out its principles.

Here are a few tips-- by playing 2's and Jokers to the table in mixed melds, you expose them to "theft" by your opponents. When they take a 2 from you, you not only lose 25 points but they (usually) also gain 25 points.

Pure 2's or Jokers melds can not be robbed. But if you try for one and fail, penalties are very high for having wild cards in hand when your opponents rummy.

Sets are generally easier to get for contract melds than sequences.

Players tend to accept discards early in the game and when building up weak hands. They tend to reject them later when trying to rummy. Potential discards are direct player-to-opponent card transfers; consider them carefully. This is one of Scarne's unique innovations for play and it leads to interesting dynamics lacking from other rummies.

2's and Jokers score the exact same value regardless of the card they take the place of in a mixed meld. For example, the 2 has the same value in either of these melds--

  • 3-3-2 or A-A-2.

The 2 in either of these two melds scores 25 points. But playing a 2 with the Aces leads to scoring 30 points for the two Aces (15 + 15) versus only 10 points (5 + 5) for the two 3's.

You score points by the kind of card played to the table in this game. You do not score different numbers of points according to how the card has been played (unlike other rummies like Canasta).

Also Try

If you like Skarney, you might also try Scarne’s version of Gin, called Skarney Gin. Read our profile of John Scarne here and visit the John Scarne memorial web site.

Alternate Rules

We have tried to faithfully reproduce all rules above. Scarne mentions two fun variations you should try--

  1. Omit the four Jokers (play with two regular decks totaling 104 cards).  This reduces the “luck element” in the game as there are four fewer wild cards.
  2. Remove all restrictions on first melds. Meld anything you want, whenever you want. This leads to a very “gutsy” game as you can surprise someone holding a lot of cards by rummying without having melded -- but of course you could be the player who is surprised!

For Further Information

Scarne’s Encyclopedia of Card Games has a chapter on Skarney and Skarney Gin. The ultimate authority is his rare book Skarney.  There are some very slight differences in the rules between these two sources. We have followed the more accessible Encyclopedia of Card Games where differences occur.


Here's a new rummy game invented by Alaskan Gordon Bower in 1997. Like all rummies, it's simple to learn and quick to play. Its unique feature is that it increases scores for melds as players add cards to lengthen them.  Hence the name Iceberg-- an initial meld may be just the tip of the iceberg. The game also includes several “special melds” to add interest. 

We've played every rummy there is and along with 500 Rummy, this virtually unknown game is our favorite. A gem.


To win a hand by scoring the most points.  For the two-person game, to win a game by being first to accumulate at least 5000 points across hands.

Deck and Deal

For two or three players, use a single 52 card deck. For four or five players, shuffle two 52-card decks together.

Deal 7 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards face-down to be used as the draw pile.


Each player follows these steps in his turn--

  1. Pick up the card lying face-down at his left
    (When starting the hand, this card may not yet exist for the player-- see Rule (5). In this case the player just skips this step.)
  2. Draw one card from the top of the draw pile
  3. Immediately place any Ace(s) in his hand face up in front of him
  4. Make any legal melds desired. Players can also lay off cards on other player's melds. Melding is voluntary and at the player’s discretion.
  5. Discard one card face-down next to his right-hand opponent (unless he has no cards remaining)

                       ---Meld--- ---Points---
Pair        10
3rd card added to a Pair        20
3 of a kind or 3 in same-suit sequence        30
4th card in a set or run        40
5th card in a set or run        50
6th card in a set or run        60
7th card in a set or run        70
8th card in a set or run        80
9th card in a set or run        90
10th card in a set or run      100
11th card in a set or run      110
12th card in a set or run      120

                     ---Special Meld---    ---Points---
K-J-9-7-5-3  in one suit          700
Q-10-8-6-4-2 in one suit          500
K-J-9-7-5-3  of the same color but mixed suits          300
Q-10-8-6-4-2 of the same color but mixed suits          200

All cards in any Special Meld must be laid down at one time.

Ending a Hand

A hand ends when one player goes out ("rummies"), or when all Aces have been played, whichever happens first. You can rummy with or without a final discard.

Scoring at the End of a Hand

Negative points are assessed for all players still holding cards in their hands at the end of the hand. 

Any playable cards in your hand score the negative point value they would have scored for you as positive points, had you had one more turn in which to meld them.

Non-playable cards still in your hand score -10 points each.

Each Ace acts as a "score multiplier" at the end of the hand. Compute a player’s final score, then double that score if he has one Ace, triple it if he has two Aces, quadruple it if he has three Aces, and so on.

Alternate Rule-- Aces make luck predominant, as score multipliers drastically alter scores based strictly on how many Aces you draw. If you prefer to limit the luck factor, instead play that each Ace is a “bonus card” that adds 20 points to a player’s score.

Example Hand

Here is a sample hand for the 3-player game (designed by Iceberg's inventor)--

Player A is dealt 987-S, J3-H, QA-D and draws the 3-C. He lays the A-D face up on the table in front of him.   He melds the 9-8-7 (S), scoring 30. He discards the J-H.

Player B was dealt KJ3-S, Q-H, J8-D, J-C and draws the 6-C.  He plays the J-D and J-C, scoring 10, holding onto the J-S, which will be worth 40 if someone plays the J-H. He discards the 8-D.

Player C was dealt: 6-S, 10 9 4 2-D, KQ-C. He draws the A-C from the stock and picks up the J-H discarded by player A.  He plays the A-C; his jack of hearts, which is worth 20 when added to B's pair; and the 6, worth 40 on A's run. He discards the 2-D.

Player A holds 3-H, Q-D, 3-C, picks up the 8-D, and draws the Q-S. He plays his two pairs for 10 each (the 3-H and 3-C, and the Q-D and Q-S).  He then goes out by discarding the 8-D .


Player A earned 30+10+10=50, which is doubled to 100 because he had one ace.

Player B is stuck holding KJ3-S, Q-H, 6-C. He earned 10, but loses 50 for holding 5 cards; 40 for the playable jack of spades; and 20 for the playable queen of hearts, for a total of -100.

Player C is stuck holding 10 9 4-D,  KQ-C. The queen of clubs counts -20 (only two queens actually got played) and the 5 cards count -50. His net score is (20+40-20-50)x2=-20.

Alternate Rules

The original rules employ each Ace at the end of the hand as a "score multiplier." One Ace doubles your final score, two triple it, three quadruple it, and so on. We recommend a more moderate rule that scores 20 points per Ace as bonuses because otherwise the scoring is distorted by how many Aces a player draws and luck becomes predominant.

Archive copy of a page by Howard Fosdick, reprinted with the author's permission.   © 2018. Last updated: 11th February 2018