How to Play Rummy 500

Learning how to play Rummy 500 is quick and easy. That's what makes it one of my favorite card games. We'll cover the basic rules for Rummy 500 and then some tips that will hopefully help you out the next time you play!

Game Specifics

Ages: Any age that can count and match cards!
# of Players: 2 or more
Deck Required: 1 Standard 52 card deck if 2-4 players, and 2 decks if there are 5 or more players.

The object of the game is to get as many points as possible and then go out. We're going to explain how you get those points and also walk you through a hand further below. For now, just remember that the the object is to get those points, and then "go out".

Terminology is important when learning how to play Rummy 500, so here's some words you'll see below and need to know.

  • Stock Deck - the deck of cards that is face down and that you can draw from.
  • Discard Pile - the cards that are face up and have been discarded by the players. You can draw 1 or more cards from this (More on that later).
  • The Field - The place on the table where you lay the cards that have been melded.
  • Meld - means to play the cards in your hand by laying them on the field, either as a run or a set.
  • A Run - Cards that are of the same suit and are in numerical order.
  • A Set - Cards that are of the same type, but not the same suit. 3,3,3.... 5,5,5.... etc.

How to Play

Okay, let's discuss how you get points since they're so important when learning how to play Rummy 500.

You get points by playing cards in your hand and placing them face up on your side of the table. Of course there's certain combinations that you can play, and those are the following:

  • There are three or more of the same cards which is known as a "Set". For instance, if you have three 5s or four sevens then you can play those cards by placing them face up on your side of the table.
  • You have three or more cards that go in order AND are the same suit, which is known as a "Run". For instance, the 2 3 and 4 of diamonds could be played.
  • You can also get play off of cards that are already on the table. For example if your opponent has three 9’s on the table and you have a 9 you can play your 9 off of their set.

I know what you're thinking... You're saying, "Great, but where do these points come in?" Well, the points are based on what cards you play. Don't worry though, it's simple to keep track of.

  • Cards 2-9 give you 5 points
  • Cards 10,J,Q,K gives you 10 points
  • The Ace and Jokers gives you 15 points.
  • However! If an Ace is played like this - Ace,2,3 - then the Ace is only worth 5 points.

A word about the Jokers. Some people play without them, but for those that would prefer to leave them in the deck, know this - The Jokers are considered wild cards. They can be used as any card you need them for, but once you choose which card it is, they cannot be changed. So if you have 2 Kings and a Joker, the Joker can act as your third King and allow you to meld the cards.

I never worry about keeping score while I'm playing. In other words, I don't count up every card as I lay them down. Instead, I just keep an eye on how many sets I have and how many my opponent has. You can get a rough idea of who's ahead by doing it this way and then when someones goes out you can count them up. Of course, how to play Rummy 500 is completely up to you. You can count as you go or leave the Jokers out, whichever you decide.

Since you now know how to accumulate points in Rummy 500, let's talk about the actual game play. We'll walk you through a practice hand and you can see how the game is played.

Practice Hand

Here's where we're going to show you how to play Rummy 500 by walking you through a single hand.

First off, the dealer (which is usually one of the players) deals the cards. If you have two people playing a game, then each person gets 13 cards. If you have more than two people playing, then each person only gets seven cards. Just remember when learning how to play Rummy 500 - 2 people = 13 cards and more than 2 people = 7 cards. The cards are also dealt just like in poker, one at a time to each person starting with the person on the dealer's left.

For the sake of clarity, we're going to assume we have three players here. The dealer deals the cards clockwise until everyone has 7 cards. Then the dealer puts 1 card face up on the field. This is the start of the discard pile.

There are 3 steps to your turn.

1. Draw

You can either draw from the discard pile or from the stock deck. If you draw more than 1 card from the discard pile you have to play the top card. I know the normal Rummy players are probably scratching their heads right now, so let me explain about that multiple card draw from the discard pile.

In normal Rummy, you are only allowed to play the top card in the discard pile. However, according to the rules of Rummy 500, you can draw multiple cards. The only stipulation to this is that if you do pick up more than one card, you MUST play the first card that you drew. If you can't meld it, then you can't pick it up.

So for example, let's say you have a 3 and a 4 of diamonds, and you see the 5 of diamonds in the discard pile, but it's covered by two more cards. You're allowed to pick up all three cards (the 5 of diamonds and the two cards on top of it) but you MUST play that 5 of diamonds on this hand. You're not allowed to keep it. You'll have to lay it down with your 3 and 4 of diamonds to make a complete run. You can keep the other two cards however. This is just to stop people from picking up the entire discard deck when they don't actually need a card. It also forces you to use much more strategy when playing.

Understand? Great, now let's move on to the part of your turn when you'd actually lay those cards down. It's called the Play.

2. Play

This is the part of your turn when you meld (place) the cards face up on the field (table). Remember if you pick up multiple cards from the discard pile then you have to meld the first card and place it on the field. If you only picked up one card from the discard pile or the stock pile then you can keep it in your hand. You don't have to meld cards every turn.

3. Discard

Once you are done playing your cards, or if you can’t play any cards, you have to discard a single card from your hand to the discard pile, face up.

Once you've discarded, that ends your turn. Then it's the person on your left's turn. This continues until someone goes out.

Going Out

When a person "Goes out", it just means that they have used all the cards in their hand. Once that happens, it's time to count the cards. Not only the ones on the field, but also the ones left in the other player's hands.

The cards on the field (all those that have been melded) are added together to get a final score for each player. However! The cards in the hands of each player are then counted and subtracted from that score. This is why it's always best to be the one who "Goes Out". No cards means no score subtraction!

Keeping up with our example, let's say another player on the table went out and you have 3 J’s on the field and a K and a 3 in your hand.

For your field score, you'd have 30 points for the 3 Jacks. But don't forget the cards in your hand. You would subtract 10 points for the king and 5 points for the 3. That would leave you with a total of 15 points. (30-10-5=15)

Winning the game

After every hand, you add the points you have just received to your total points. So if you had a score of 100 before that last hand, you'd now have 115.

The first player to reach 500 wins (Hence the name, Rummy 500). If multiple players get above 500 at the same time the one with the highest score wins.


Now that you know the rummy 500 rules lets give you some tips.

I love teaching people how to play Rummy 500 because many of their opponents will make some simple mistakes. If you use some basic strategy, you can take advantage of those mistakes.

  • 1. Most people try to go out fast so that their opponents will be left with a lot of points to subtract from their hand. Don’t do this! You will end up with 1 or 2 cards waiting forever for a lucky draw while your opponent gets more and more points.
  • 2. Use the discard pile! If you have 2 K’s, most people will keep them in their hand and wait for a 3rd K. Don’t! Instead, discard 1 to the discard pile. This will do 1 of 2 things - Either you'll get a 3rd king later and will be able to pick up a whole pile of discarded cards, which will give you more opportunities to get points or - your opponent will think you have no other kings and discard another king as a safe bet, giving you a 3rd king. See where the strategy comes in? It's an important part of learning how to play Rummy 500.
  • 3. When your opponent is getting low on cards, help them out! If the discard pile is 2,8,2,J,K and you have a 2, put it down. Your opponent will pick it up to play the points, which is bad, but it gives them extra cards in their hand and make sure they will not go out any time soon. If you have 10 or more cards in your hand and your opponent only has 1 or 2, it's probably worth the points they'll pick up just to offset the points you'd lose if they went out.
  • 4. When your opponent is low, start shedding your high cards. This prevents you from getting hit too badly if you can't prevent them from going out.

It shouldn't be hard to see why I love this game so much. It's easy to learn how to play Rummy 500. It does require some serious thinking and strategy, but it's a relatively fast playing game that is still loads of fun!

Next time you have a few people and a deck of cards, teach them how to play Rummy 500. I'm sure they'll thank you for the introduction!

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