Rummy 500 is a very well known card game that’s extremely popular throughout Canada, the US, and beyond. Part of the Melding Family of card games, players strive to play, or meld, cards in their hand for points, receiving negative points for unmelded cards.
The game goes by a wide range of names. The term Rummy 500 (aka 500 Rummy) relates to the target score of 500 to win. It’s also known as 500 Rum, Joker Rummy, Gin Rummy (although that title truly belongs to a different variant), or simply Rummy.
Rules of Rummy 500
Rummy 500 is a game for 2 to 8 players. With up to four players, the game is played with a complete 54-card deck (including jokers). For 5+ players, two decks (108 cards) is required.
Melding Sets & Runs
The object of 500 Rummy, as with all basic Rummy variants, is to get rid of all your cards by melding them onto the table. Melds are placed face up in front of the player, and include Sets and Runs.
Sets: A set is 3 or more cards of the same value, such as 3♣–3♥–3♠, J♦–J♠–J♥, or A♣–A♠–A♦.
Runs: A run is a sequence of 3 or more same-suit cards, such as 3♥–4♥–5♥ or Q♣–K♣–A♣. A valid run can start as low as A-2-3… and range as high as …Q-K-A. It can not rotate from one end to the other, as in Q-K-A-2-3. This is not a valid run.
Jokers: Jokers are basic wild cards in 500 Rummy. They can represent any card necessary to complete or extend a meld. Note that, when used in a run, the player must signify the joker’s value, and it cannot be changed thereafter. If 3♥–4♥–J$ is melded, the player signifies the J$ is the 5♥. Another player can lay off 6♥ on this meld, but cannot move the joker the other end (representing 2♥) to play A♥.
Laying Off Cards
Once a player has melded, they are capable of playing additional cards upon the melds of other players. This is called Laying Off.
Players lay off cards by extending the sets and runs of their opponents. For instance, if Player A melds 3♣–3♥–3♠, and Q♣–K♣–A♣, Player B (once melded) can play the 3♦ on Player A’s set, and the J♣ on the run.
The player who is laying off the card will announce what meld it belongs to, but will keep the card on their side of the table, instead of playing it directly on the meld. This is necessary to calculate score, as the player who lays off the card gets the points for it.
The point values for each card rank are as follows:
Aces: 15 points, unless at the low-end start of a run (A♥–2♥–3♥). In this case, the Ace is only worth 1 point.
Joker: 15 points
Face Cards (J-Q-K): 10 points
Number Cards (2-9): their respective value (2 for 2, 3 for 3, 4 for 4, etc.)
When a hand is over, each player will add up the points for all cards in their own melds. They will then add points remaining in their hand (if any), and subtract that total from the melded total. This becomes the player’s score for that hand.
For example, you meld A-2-3-4, 7-7-7, and 9-J$-J-Q, for 75 positive points. You have 5-8-Q-Q left in your hand, for 33 negative points. Subtract 33 from 75, and your total score for the hand is +37. If your negative score is higher than your positive score, you will generate a negative score for the hand.
Dealing Rummy 500
For 2 player games, the dealer will deal 13 cards to each player. In games with 3+ players, each is dealt 7 cards. The remainder of the deck becomes the stock pile for drawing, placed face down in the center of the table. The top card is turned face up next to the stock pile to start the discard pile.
Playing the Game
Each player will look at their own cards and arrange their hands as they wish. The player left of the dealer will go first. Each play is a 3 step process; Draw, Meld, Discard.
Draw: The player can draw 1 card from the stock pile, or take at least 1 card from the discard pile. If only drawing the top card from the discard pile, the card can be kept in the player’s hand. If drawing more than one card from the discard pile, the lowest card taken must be melded or laid off. All other cards taken can be held or played.
Meld: Any valid combination of cards can be melded. Once this player melds, he may also lay off cards on other players’ melds. Note that a player is not required to meld just because they can; it’s optional.
Discard: When finished, the player must discard 1 card from their hand onto the discard pile, at which time it’s the next player’s turn.
Play continues in this fashion until:
Player Runs Out of Cards: If a player has no cards left, or discards their final card, the hand is over.
No Stock Pile Left: If the stock pile runs empty, and the next player to act does not choose to draw from the discard pile, or the discard pile is also empty, the game is over.
If a player discards a card that could have been laid off on a meld, or if a card exists further down in the discard pile that could be laid off, any other player may call “Rummy”. This player will draw all cards from the discard pile leading to the meld-able card. It becomes this players turn, even if other players are skipped in the process. They will then lay off that card, and any other melds or lay offs they wish, and discard. Play rotates normally, to the player left of the one who called Rummy.
Scoring and Winning
Once the hand is over, all players will add up their positive and negative points to achieve a total score. The scores are recorded, and a new hand is dealt.
The game continues until a player reaches a cumulative score of 500+. The first to reach 500, or the highest score if two or more players reach 500+ at the same time, wins the game. In the case of a tie, another hand is played until one player achieves the highest score.
Now that you know how to play Rummy 500, there’s a lot more information you may be interested in. Feel free to check out some of our additional materials on this popular Canadian card game.
Variant Rules for Rummy 500
Rummy 500 History
Rummy 500 Strategy
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