Iceberg Rummy

Iceberg Rummy is yet another meld-scoring game, which was 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.


Players: 2 to 5 players

Cards: For two or three players use a single 52-card deck, without Jokers. For four or five players shuffle 2 52-card decks together.

The Deal: Deal 7 cards to each player and place the remaining cards face-down in a pile to be used as the stock pile. Do not start a discard pile.

Objective: As with other Rummy games the object of the game is for the player to form their cards in valid combinations and lay them down on the table in front of them. Since this is a meld-scoring game the goal should not be to go out as soon as possible, but rather to form as many melds, or lay off as many cards, as possible before going out. Multiple rounds are played until a player reaches at least 5000 points.


In addition to the standard Sets and Runs used in other Rummy games, Iceberg Rummy allows Pairs (2 cards of the same rank and different suits) and the following special melds:

  • Odds in one suit: The odd cards (3-5-7-9-J-K) all in the same suit.
  • Evens in one suit: The even cards (2-4-6-8-10-Q) all in the same suit.
  • Odds in one color: The odd cards with the same color, but different suits.
  • Evens in one color: The even cards with the same color, but different suits.

The cards forming a special meld must all be laid down at the same time, they can not be built up via lay-offs.

Game Play

Play commences with the player to the left of the dealer taking a turn and continues clockwise until the hand ends.

Players do the following actions when it is their turn:

  1. Pick up the card lying face-down at the player's left. (When starting the round, this card will not yet exist for the player, see step 5. In this case the player just skips this step.)
  2. Draw one card from the top of the stock pile.
  3. Immediately place any Ace(s) in the player's hand face up in front of him or her.
  4. Make any legal melds as 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 the player's right-hand opponent (unless the player has no cards remaining).

Due to the nature of how points are added each time a meld is made or extended it is best to track scores each time cards are played instead of waiting until the end. This differs from most Rummy games where the score for the round is calculated at the end of the round solely on either cards still in the hand or cards melded. The points are as follows:

Meld or lay off Points
3rd card added to a Pair
3 card Set or 3 card Run
4th card in a Set or Run
5th card in a Set or Run
6th card in a Set or Run
7th card in a Set or Run
8th card in a Set or Run
9th card in a Set or Run
10th card in a Set or Run
11th card in a Set or Run
12th card in a Set or Run
Special Melds  
K-J-9-7-5-3 in one suit
Q-10-8-6-4-2 in one suit
K-J-9-7-5-3 of the same color but mixed suits
Q-10-8-6-4-2 of the same color but mixed suits

End of Round

The round ends when one player goes out ("Rummies"), or when all Aces have been played, whichever happens first. A player can go out with or without having a final card to discard.


Negative points are assessed for all players still holding cards in their hands at the end of the round, as follows:

  • Any playable cards (cards which could have been laid down given the current state of the melds on the table) still in the player's hand score the negative point value they would have scored as positive points, if there had been one more turn in which to meld them or lay off.
  • Non-playable cards still in the player's hand score -10 points each.

Each Ace acts as a "score multiplier" at the end of the round. The player's score for the round is calculated, and then score is doubled if they have one Ace, triple the score they have two Aces, quadruple it for three Aces, and so on.

Example Round

Here is a sample hand for a 3-player game:

  1. Player A is dealt 9-8-7-J-3-Q-A and draws the 3. He lays the A face up on the table in front of him. He melds the 9-8-7, scoring 30 points. He discards the J.
  2. Player B was dealt K-J-3-Q-J-8-J, and draws the 6. He plays the J-J Pair, scoring 10. He holds onto the J because it will be worth 40 if someone else plays the J. He discards the 8.
  3. Player C was dealt 6-10-9-4-2-K-Q. He draws the A from the stock pile and picks up the J discarded by Player A. He lays down the A and plays his J, which is worth 20 points when added to Player B's pair; and the 6, worth 40 points when added on Player A's run. He discards the 2.
  4. Player A holds 3-Q-3, picks up the 8 discarded by Player B, and draws the Q. He plays his two pairs for 10 points each (3-3, and Q-Q). He then goes out by discarding the 8.


  1. Player A earned 30+10+10=50, which is doubled to 100 because he had one Ace.
  2. Player B is stuck holding K-J-3-Q-6. He earned 10, but loses 50 for holding 5 unplayable cards; 40 for the playable jack of spades; and 20 for the playable queen of hearts, for a total of -100.
  3. Player C is stuck holding 10-9-4-K-Q. The queen of clubs counts -20 (only two queens actually got played) and the 5 unplayable cards count -50. His net score is 20+40-20-50=-10, which is doubled to -20 due to the Ace.

Optional Rules and Variations

The following rules may be added to the standard game if all players agree to the variation before the first player takes their turn.

  1. Use Aces as bonus cards: Using Aces as doublers makes luck be the predominant factor in the game, rather than strategy and skill, as score multipliers drastically alter scores based strictly on how many Aces are drawn. So some players prefer to use Aces as a bonus card instead, that simply adds an agreed upon amount, such as 20 or 50 points, to the player's score for each Ace they have collected.
  2. Doubling bonuses: To add back some of the benefit of collecting multiple Aces but still keeping strategy and skill as the predominant factor in the game, you can add the rule that the bonus values will double with each Ace that the player collects. For example, the first Ace gives a bonus of 20 points, the second Ace gives a 40 point bonus, the third Ace gives a 80 point bonus, and so on.

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