500 Rummy (sometimes called in 500 Rum in literature, and not to be confused with Five Hundred) is a member of the Rummy family for two to eight players. The main difference between basic Rummy and 500 Rummy is that, in the latter game, players score for the melds they lay down, rather than simply scoring for the points left in their hand, a feature also found in Canasta.
Object of 500 Rummy
The object of 500 Rummy is to be the first player to score 500 points by forming melds and laying off cards to other player’s melds.
500 Rummy uses a 54-card deck, a standard 52-card deck plus two jokers. If you’ve got a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’ll have all you need. If you are playing with five or more players, shuffle in a second 54-card deck, making a total of 108 cards in play. You will also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the deck, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up next to it, forming the discard pile. As more cards are added to it, the discard pile should be kept neatly spread out, so that the indices of every card in the pile are visible, and the order that the cards were discarded should remain clear.
The player to the left of the dealer (or the non-dealer, in a two-player game) goes first. The first action a player takes at the beginning of a turn is to draw a card, either from the stock (in which case the player will not know what it is) or any card from the discard pile (in which case the player, as well as all of their opponents, will know what is being added to their hand). However, when drawing from the discard pile, the player must be able to immediately use the card drawn in a meld. When a card is drawn from the discard pile other than its the top card, the player must take all of the cards on top of it (i.e. that have been discarded more recently) into their hand as well.
After they have drawn, the player then has the option to meld. Melding is laying down a combination of cards called a meld face-up on the table in front of oneself. Valid melds include three or four of a kind (with no duplication in suits if the 108-card deck is being used; 5♣-5♠-5♥ is a valid meld, but 5♣-5♣-5♥ is not), or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces count either low or high, kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). Melding is not compulsory; a player may choose to keep melds in their hand as long as they like.
After melding, a player has the opportunity to lay off on a pre-existing melds, if able. This is extending a meld already on the table, either yours or an opponent’s, by playing a legal card that would extend it. If an opponent has melded three of a kind and you hold the fourth card of that rank, you may lay off the fourth king onto the meld. Runs can also be extended; with a meld on the table of 9-10-J♦, you may lay off either the 8♦ or the Q♦ if you hold either of them. A player cannot move cards from one meld to another to facilitate laying off. A player may lay off as many cards as they are able to on one turn, but laying off is optional and is not required. Cards that have been laid off are kept in front of the player that laid them off (they are not actually placed with the meld they belong to, for scoring reasons), and the player must designate the meld that it belongs to, in order to prevent ambiguity in situations where the card could potentially belong to several melds.
Jokers are wild and may represent any card for the purpose of melding. At the time that it is melded, the player must declare the card the joker stands for, and this cannot be changed later (it is okay if the designated card is present elsewhere on the table; there can be several “copies” of a card in play). The card named must, of course, be able to be legally melded in order for the joker to be played.
Finally, a player ends their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the left.
If, after a player has discarded, the discard pile contains any cards which could immediately be melded, i.e. either a card that could be laid off immediately, or a complete meld, not requiring any cards from a player’s hand, any player other than the one who just discarded may call out “Rummy!” That player is then entitled to draw the relevant cards from the discard pile (and any cards on top of them, as usual) and play them. They then take their turn as normal, performing any other melds and discarding one card. Play then passes to the left, as per usual.
Game play continues until one player, or the stock, has run out of cards. The hand then ends immediately, with no further melding possible. Each opponent then calculates the value of their melds and the deadwood (the remaining unmelded cards) in their hand. Aces and jokers are worth fifteen points each (except for in an A-2-3 sequence, where aces are worth only one point), face cards are worth ten points each, and all other cards are worth their face value. Each player scores the value of their melds minus the amount of deadwood in their hand.
The game ends when a player reaches a score of 500 or more. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.