Rummy 500 is one of the most popular variations of Rummy. In fact, this is the game that many people think of as regular, normal or standard Rummy. The biggest difference from the actual Standard Rummy is that players may draw more than just the top card from the discard pile if they wish, although they must play the the bottom card of the stack they draw.
Another difference is that scoring is based on what the player has melded or laid off, not just the deadwood left in their hand at the end of a game. This fact places Rummy 500 into a slightly different category of games from Standard Rummy, which we'll call Meld Scoring Games.
Players: Rummy 500 can be played by 2 to 8 players.
Cards: A standard deck of cards is used, with 52 playing cards and 2 jokers. If 5 or more players are playing then a second deck should be used, with 108 cards total.
The Deal: The number of cards dealt depends on the number of players. If there are 2 players then they get 13 cards each. If there are 3 or more players then players then deal 7 cards each. The remaining cards should be placed face down on the table and will become the stock pile. The top card should be flipped and placed beside the stock pile, this will be the start of the discard pile.
Objective: The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards by forming melds or laying off cards on preexisting melds. Points are scored from the cards played by each player.
The turn-by-turn game play in Rummy 500 is nearly the same as in Standard Rummy. The player starts by drawing either from the stock pile or the discard pile, optionally forms melds (a run or a set), optionally lays off cards onto other melds, and then discards one card to the discard pile. Since there is so much similarity, only the additions or differences will be described here. Please read the description of Game Play in Standard Rummy if you’re not already familiar with it.
Drawing multiple cards from the discard
The most obvious difference from Standard Rummy is that more than one card may be drawn from the discard pile. To facilitate this, the discarded cards should be stacked to the side so the previous discards are still partially visible. If a player is able to make a meld or lay off a card that is not on the top of the stack then the player may take that card and all the cards above it in the stack. The bottom card taken must be played on that turn, (unless the player took only the top card). The player should then play that card as well as any other melds or layoffs they are able to do, and then discard a single card like normal.
It is very important to understand how to use the discard pile for your advantage. Suppose that you have these cards in your hand: 2-4-5-8-J-K-K and that the discard pile is as follows:
You want to take the 4 and 4 from the discard pile to go with your 4 to make a group. To get these cards, you must take all the cards from the 4 onwards, leaving only the 6 in the discard pile. You can then meld the 4-4-4, and you have the following cards left in your hand: 2-5-7-8-J-Q-K-K-A. You can then discard something you don't need such as the 2 and the discard pile is then:
If you had taken only the 7 you would have been allowed to keep it in your hand and not meld it. Since you took the cards from 4 onward, you must meld the 4.
End of Hand
The hand can end in one of two ways. First, when a player disposes of all the cards in their hand via forming melds, laying off cards, or adding a final card to the discard pile, then the hand is done. Note that it is not required to include adding a card to the discard pile when going out, all the remaining cards in a player’s hand may be played if they are all going to valid melds or lay offs.
The other way that a hand can end is if the stock pile is exhausted and the current player does not want to draw any cards from the discard pile. If the player is able to use something in the discard pile then they take their turn like normal and play continues on to the next player.
Once the game has ended in one of the ways described above then the hand is over and other players may not meld or lay off cards even if they have valid combinations in their hand. Calling “Rummy!” also not allowed.
All players count the value of the cards they have melded, and subtract the value of the cards remaining in their hands. Each player’s score is added to their ongoing score for the series of games being played. Games continue until one or more players reach a score of 500 points or better. Note that it is possible to have a negative score if the value in the hand is more than the value of cards melded. Also note that unplayed melds still must be counted.
Cards have the following values:
Optional Rules and Variations
- Playing without jokers: Rummy 500 was originally played without wild cards, and it certainly can still be played that way now. It makes for a slightly more challenging game, which some people prefer.
- 5/10/15 card values: To make scoring simpler the cards 2-9 can be given a value of 5 instead of their face value. If an ace is played as a low card, such as a A-2-3 run, then it will have a value of 5 points instead of 15.
- Card from discard pile must be played: With this variation the rule that the deepest card taken from the discard pile must be played also applies even if only one card is taken from the discard pile.
- New meld for discard cards: When cards are drawn from the discard pile then the deepest card must be played in a new meld, not laid off on existing melds.
Rummy in the Pile, or Calling Rummy!: This is a commonly played variant,
although it is not regarded as part of standard Rummy 500 by most game books.
The way it works is that if, for example, 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 a card or 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
down as the relevant card. This player then completes their turn by melding
that card and possibly others, and by discarding one card to end their turn. The
turn to play then passes to the player on the left of the one who called
"Rummy!" and moves clockwise from there, possibly skipping some players in
effect. Note that it is not possible to call "Rummy!" in this way when the
game has ended. When a player discards or melds their last card, the game
ends and they need not have any regard to what is left in the pile. Here are
two examples of how "Rummy In The Pile" works in practice:
- If there is a 3-4-5 on the board (i.e. in the meld area) and someone discards a 2 or a 6 then any player, apart from the the discarder may call out "Rummy!", take the card and meld it.
- If it is your turn and you have 7 and 8 in your hand, you draw 6 from stock but there is already a 5 buried in the pile. If you meld your 6-7-8 in this turn, then anyone can call "Rummy!", take the 5 from the pile (and all cards above it) and add it to your meld. You cannot make this call yourself immediately after placing your meld down, only the other players may do this, but you may once the next player has taken his turn, in the unlikely event that no one else has spotted it and called "Rummy!". In situations like this you may want to hold on to your meld until your next turn and then take the 5 from the pile (and all cards above it) in order to play the larger meld.
- Calling Rummy for top card only: For this variation only the most recently discarded card is eligible for being stolen by another player calling “Rummy!”
- Discard required when going out: This variant requires 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: This variant also required that a player must discard in order for the hand to be ended, but they can meld all of their cards on their turn. When this happens the player “floats” until it is their turn again. The player can then draw a card and discard it, draw from the discard pile and make a meld and discard like normal, etc. If the player still has cards at that point (because of drawing more than one card from the discard pile) then play continues like normal until a player is able to go out with a discard.
- Unplayable discard required: if a player goes out with a discard then the card must be unplayable on any existing melds. Otherwise they will go into floating mode as described above.
- Must go out to win: If another player is the one to go out on a hand, then you can not be the winner even if you have 500 points or better. If the player who did go out does not have 500 points then play continues with another round. It is possible for the winner to have less points than other players.