How To Play 500 Rummy

Five Hundred Rummy 500 Rummy is one of the oldest forms of the Rummy family of games that is still widely played. From this game many of the other newer Rummy type games have been developed (such as Canasta).

The object of 500 Rummy is similar to that in most other Rummy games. This is to lay down groups or sequences of three or more cards to form point scoring melds.

This game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The game is usually played by between two to eight players, each playing for himself. If five or more players are playing, it is often played with two standard packs of cards which have been shuffled together to make one large deck. The rank of the cards is as follows (A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,A). The Ace (A) can be considered either high or low (being the highest card after King or the lowest card before the deuce). A sequence is not allowed to go "around the corner", in other words, an Ace can never be in the middle of a sequence (thus K,A,2,3 would not be a valid meld).

Card rankings in 500 Rummy

For purposes of scoring each individual card has a specific point value. Jacks, Queens and Kings count 10 points each. Numbered cards (2 through 10) are worth their numerical value. The value of an ace depends on how it is used. If the ace is part of a low sequence (i.e., A,2,3) melded to the table, it is worth one point. If it is part of a high sequence (i.e, J,Q,K,A) or part of a meld of three or more Aces, it is worth 15 points. It also has a value of 15 (negative score) when found to remain in a player's hand after another player goes out.

To determine which player is the first dealer, each player should draw a card from the face down deck. The player whom draws the lowest card is the first dealer. For purposes of this draw the ace is considered low. For the next hand, and each one thereafter until the end of the game, the deal rotates clockwise from player to player around the table.

Once the dealer is selected he then shuffles the deck and the player to the dealers immediate left cuts. The dealer starts by dealing one face-down card to each player, starting at the player to his left and continuing in a clockwise direction until each player (including himself) has seven cards. However, if there are just two players in the game, then each player should receive 13 cards. Once the initial hands are dealt, the dealer places the remainder of the deck in the center of the table face down as the stock pile. He turns over the top card of the stock pile and places it face up beside the stock pile. This is the upcard, which forms the first card of the discard pile.

Each player, starting with the player to the immediate left of the dealer then takes a turn. The turn to play rotates around the table clockwise from player to player.

On his turn, a player does several things. First, he must draw from either the stock pile or the discard pile. He can either draw the top, face down card from the stock pile or he can take any card from the face-up discard pile. The specific selected card taken from the discard pile must immediately be played to the table, to either create a new meld (see melding, below), including other cards from the player's hand or to extend an existing meld already on the table. However, a player who draws a card from the discard pile must take every card that is above it in the pile (these additional cards need not be played immediately as melds). After playing the initial card taken from the discard pile, the player can also lay down other melds with additional cards that were also taken from the discard pile (along with any from their hand).

Melds in 500 Rum
The two types of melds in 500 Rum, a sequence meld and a group meld.
After drawing, the player is then entitled to lay down any possible melds. There are two standard types of melds that can legally be played in this game:

- Sequence Melds: A sequence meld is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as 5, 6, 7 of clubs (♣). When an ace is used in a sequence meld it can be used as either the highest card of the sequence, coming after the King or the lowest in a sequence coming before the deuce (2). Sequence melds cannot roll over. In other words, a sequence cannot be made such as Q,K,A,2,3.

- Groups: A group is 3 or more cards of the same rank. These cards can be of any suit, but must all be of the same rank (such as three 4's or three Jacks).

When a player has one of these two meld types in his hand, he may, at his turn play the meld face up to the table in front of himself. When a meld is played, the player who lays the meld is credited with the point value of the meld as per the card values given above. Thus, a meld of 9,10,J would score 29 points (nine points for the 9, 10 for the ten and 10 more for the Jack). All scoring occurs at the conclusion of each hand. In addition, a player on his proper turn can add one or more cards to melds that are already on the table, in effect extending the meld. He can extend either his own meld or another players. He then receives the point values for his cards played to the meld. Any number of players may extend any melds on the table such that a particular meld might have been extended by a number of players. When a player does extend another players' melds, he should lay the card on the table in front of himself such that it is obvious who to score the points for at the end of the hand. When playing such a card the player must also state which meld on the table is being extended.

The Discard:
The last part of a player's turn consists of a discard. After a player has drawn and played any melds to the table they must discard. They select one card from their hand and lay it down on the discard pile. The card must be laid down face-up on the pile, in such a way that the it does not completely cover the card immediately below it. Thus, the discard pile is somewhat spread out, with each card partially exposed from beneath the cards above it.

Example discard pile in 500 Rum
The discards should be displayed in such a way that all cards can be seen. A player taking a card from the discard must take all the cards above it in the pile. Thus, a player wanting to take the King would also be required to take the 10 and 5 as well.

Ending the Hand:
If a player plays their last cards in a meld or when discarding, discards the last card in their hand, they have gone out. At this point, the hand immediately ends and scoring for the hand takes place.

500 Rum scoring example
In this example hand, say a player has three melds to the table. The 8, 9, 10 and Jack sequence. The three fours and the 9 of spades which was played as an extension to another meld (not shown) on the table. The player has a King and 5 still remaining in his hand. Say another player goes out. This player would score 58 for his melds to the table, minus 15 for the cards remaining in his hand. This player would score a total of 43 for the hand.
Each player first scores the values for all the melds they have played to the table, including any cards they used to extend melds of their opponents. The scores earned for the individual cards are as per the card values previously detailed above. The point value of all unplayed cards remaining in a player's hand are then subtracted from this total. Negative scores are possible if a player has more total value in cards in his hand then he has played as melds or extensions to melds to the table during the hand. Cards that may consist of valid melds still count negative for a player if they remain in his hand and had not been played to the table during the course of the hand.

A running total of a players score is carried over from hand to hand until one player accumulates 500 or more positive points. If two or more players score 500 or more points at the end of the hand, the player with the highest total is declared the winner of the game.

The hand may also end if the stock pile runs out and a player, on his proper turn, cannot or chooses not to take cards from the discard pile. In this case the hand immediately ends and is scored. The scoring is the same as with the standard method, with each player scoring for their melded cards on the table and subtracting from that total all cards remaining in their hand.

A player would be considered to have beaten or been beaten by an opponent by the number of points difference between his score and that of each opponent.

Variations of 500 Rum and Optional Rules

Rummy Call: This is an optional rule that is often played when players are more experienced at the game. It is usually not used with beginning players such as not to overly punish these novice players.
If any player discards a card that could be melded to the table or leaves one or more cards at the top of the discard pile that can be melded to the table without any additional cards from a players hand, any other player may declare "Rummy"! The player calling Rummy can then take these cards and immediately make the melds as appropriate (scoring as appropriate for the addition to the meld). After making the melds, this player may then make any other melds from his hand as he would if it was his normal turn of play. He concludes his "turn out of turn" by discarding a card of his own to the discard pile. The next player, who would normally be in turn after this player then takes his turn as normal. A player declaring "Rummy" must do so before the next player draws a card (either from the discard or the draw pile). The player who just finished their turn may not call Rummy on their own discard. Rummy may never be called once a player plays his last card, even if his last discard is one that could be played to a meld on the table.

Optional Top Discard Rule: This variation is played identically to the standard game with one difference in regards to the discard pile. In this version, a player may take the topmost card of the discard pile even if he chooses not to (or cannot) use the card in an immediate meld. If he takes any but the top card of the discard pile, the standard rules apply in which he must use the bottom most card in an immediate meld.

500 Throw Down Rum Discard Pile
In Thrown Down 500 Rum, the discard pile can be a total disarray, which is all part of the fun.
500 Throw Down Rum: 500 Throw Down Rummy is a variation of 500 Rum which can be great fun for almost any number of players. The rules are identical to Standard Rummy with a few changes based on the handling of drawing and the discard pile. When a player discards at the end of his turn, instead of neatly arranging his card on the discard pile, the player simply tosses his card toward the other discards. In this way, the discard "pile" ends up being a scattered array of cards on the table. If the tossed card flies off the playing surface, ends up flipping to be face down or otherwise ends up in an inappropriate location, it should be righted and placed somewhere in the discard area. As there is no obvious order to this discard "pile", when drawing a discard, a player can take any discarded card in the discard area. If taking a card from the discard area, the player must also take any other discards that happen to be on top of the selected card (even if the upper card is only slightly covering the wanted card). As in most other versions of 500 Rum, the player can also take the top of the stock pile. A player may only take one card on his turn (either any discard or the top of the stock pile), and he may take a card that might be somewhat buried under other discards. During his, however, other cards should only be moved, however, to get another discard that may be partially covered by that card. In other respects this version is played identically to 500 Rum.

Discards Displayed on Table: This is not so much a variation as a mechanism to help players remember previously drawn cards. When a player takes cards from the discard pile, he must leave the taken cards that are not melded on this turn, face up in front of himself until his next turn. This allows the other players a longer opportunity to attempt to memorize these cards taken.

Four card meld in Persian Rummy
Melding four cards of the same rank in Persian Rummy all at the same time scores double for that meld. This meld, for example would score a total of 40 points.
Persian Rummy: Persian Rummy is a variation of 500 Rummy that is played by four players in two partnerships.
If not already predetermined in some manner, the partnerships should be determined by each player drawing one card from a face-down, shuffled deck. The players drawing the two highest cards play as partners against the players drawing the two lowest. Also, the player drawing the lowest card is the first dealer. The partners should each sit opposite each other at the table such that the turns will rotate with an intervening player between the partners turns.

Persian Rummy uses the standard 52 card deck with the addition of four jokers. These Jokers are not considered wild cards in this game, and instead are cards that can be melded in their own separate group. They cannot be melded in any sequence group. For purposes of scoring jokers are worth 20 points. When drawing for partners and dealer, a player drawing a joker should draw again.

In Persian Rummy, the ace is considered high, and thus can only be melded in high sequence melds (i.e. K,Q,A etc) or in a group of three or four aces. Aces are always worth 15 points.
If a player melds, all at the same time, a group of exactly four cards of the same rank, it counts double. If a player adds a fourth card to an existing group of three the meld counts as standard.

All scores for both players in a partnership are combined together, positive and negative. When a player goes out (melds or discards the last card in his hand) his partnership scores a bonus of 25 points in addition to the value of the meld.
When the stock pile is exhausted, the game continues as long as each player, in their turn, legally can and wants to draw from the discard pile. In this situation, as soon as a player does not draw from the discard pile on their turn, the game immediately ends and the counts of all the cards remaining in their hands are subtracted from their partnerships score.
When a side reaches 500 points at the completion of a hand, that side is considered the winner of the game and receives a bonus of 50 points. If, at the end of a hand both partnerships have reached 500 or more points, the partnership with the higher score is considered the winner, receiving the 50 point bonus for winning the game.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma or Oklahoma Rummy is another fun 500 Rum variant designed for 2 to 4 players. This game is also often called Arlington. It is not the same game as Oklahoma Gin which is a variant of Gin Rummy. Oklahoma Rummy is played with two standard decks shuffled together. In this game all deuces are considered wild cards and thus can be substituted for any other card in a valid meld. The basic rules of Oklahoma are the same as in 500 Rum with a few key changes that make this game uniquely different as well.

Each player draws from the face down deck with the player drawing the lowest card becoming the first dealer. The game is dealt and played in a clockwise direction. The dealer begins by distributing cards one at a time face down to each player until all players have 13 such cards. He then places the deck face down in the center of the table and takes the top card of the stock pile and lays it beside the stock to begin the discard pile. Each player, starting with the player to the dealers immediate left is given the opportunity to take that discard. If any player takes this discard, they then begin the game, becoming the first player. This player then takes his turn as normal, melding (if able and willing) and discarding as normal. After this, each turn consists in the normal manner (with players taking the top of stock pile or the discard pile, melding and then discarding). If no player takes that first discard, the player to the dealers immediate left draws the top of the stock pile and play begins as normal.

Whenever a deuce is played, the player of the deuce must state what specific card it represents if there is any doubt. Once played a wild card deuce may never be substituted for the actual natural card it replaces by any player. Players may only lay off cards to their own previous melds and may never add additional cards to a group that already contains four cards of the same rank.

Four card meld in Persian Rummy
In Oklahoma Rummy, the Queen of Spades may never be discarded unless it is a players last discard in his hand.
Another major difference between Oklahoma and 500 Rum is in the taking of cards from the discard pile. If a player, on his turn takes the top card of the discard pile, he must take the entire discard pile, adding it to his hand. He must immediately use the top card from the discard pile in a new meld or add it to one of the melds he already has on the table. On his turn, a player may make new, legal melds or add to his own melds, but never to those of other players. Aces can be considered the highest card of any suit or the lowest, thus they can be played as the last card after a King or as the first before a natural deuce not being used as a wild card.

Another challenging and exciting feature of this game is that a player who holds in his hand the Queen of Spades (♠) may only be rid of it in two circumstances. He may either play it in a legal meld or discard it as his last card when going out. When going out, a player must always discard, they may never meld their last card. The hand immediately ends and is scored as soon as any player discards this last card. The game will also immediately end in the event that the player to take the last card of the stock pile does not go out (called a block). When either of these events occurs, each player adds the total value of all cards in their own melds and subtracts the values of all cards still remaining in their hand. A player going out earns an immediate bonus of 100 points unless he goes out by melding his entire hand without having melded any cards prior in the hand. In that case he earns a 250 point bonus instead. This 250 point bonus, however, is not counted for determining if the player exceeds the 1000 points required to win the game. The scoring values for the cards, both left in the hand and melded are shown in the following table:
CardValue in MeldValue found in Hand
King, Jack, 10, 9, 810-10
Queen of (), (), (♣)10-10
Queen of Spades (♠)50-100
7, 6, 5, 4, 35-5
2Value of Card Represented-20
Note: If a 2 is used as an actual, natural 2, it's value is 5 points. If a 2 is used to replace the Queen of Spades its value is set at 10 points.

If, at the end of any hand, any players score is equal to or exceeds 1000 points, he is instantly declared the winner of the game. However, if multiple players reach or exceeds 1000 points at the end of any hand, the player with the highest score is set as the winner. The winner of the game receives an additional bonus of 200 points.

Oklahoma With Jokers: This version of Oklahoma is played identically to standard Oklahoma with one difference. From one to four Jokers are added to the double pack used. A Joker is similar to a deuce in that it can be substituted for any other card in a valid meld. Unlike a deuce, however, the player who played the Joker may take the Joker back into his hand and replace it with the natural card for which it was replacing. For scoring purposes a Joker adds 100 points when part of a valid meld but costs a player 200 points when found remaining in his hand at the end of the hand. When drawing for first dealer, the Joker is considered lowest card. A player, on his turn may also take the top card of the discard pile (and thence the entire pile) to replace the natural card for a Joker in one of his own melds.

Michigan Rummy: Michigan Rummy is another Rummy game which closely follows the rules of 500 Rummy. This game should not be confused with the game "Michigan" another fun game which is a member of the Stops family.

Michigan Rummy is played identically to standard 500 Rum with a few key differences, primarily in regards to the scoring. In this version a running score is kept for each player during the hand, and the player scores as he makes his melds. At the end of the hand, when one player goes out (called going Michigan), the other players then subtract the value of the cards remaining in their hands from their current score. Negative scores are possible. Each hand is considered a complete game, so scores from one game are not carried over to the next.

In Michigan Rummy if a player discards a card that can be laid off on any meld on the table, the first player to shout "Stop" can temporarily pre-empt the current turn. He takes the card, adds it to the appropriate meld and may discard any card of his choice from his own hand. The turn then returns to the next player after the original discarding player.

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