How to play 500 Rummy

One card game that we always used to play as kids that you don’t hear much about anymore is 500 Rummy. I taught my nephews this and they just loved it. We play all the time now.

The rules

First, let me say that the rules below are the way we always played it, and they may differ somewhat from the “official” rules or other variations of the game.

The object of each hand is to get rid of all your cards first, and the object of the entire game is to be the first to reach 500 points.

queen of spades in 500 rummy

The dealer (decided by rock/paper/scissors or in whatever manner you choose) deals 7 cards to each player. You can have anywhere from 2 players to 7, although I’d consider the ideal number 3 or 4.

The dealer puts the deck face down in the middle of the table and then turns over the top card and places it face up next to the pile.

After the deal, each player groups his cards with the idea of making either sets of 3 or more of a kind or runs of at least 3 cards in the same suit. As you get a set or a run, you can lay it down in front of you during your turn, and when you do, those become your points.

An Ace can be considered a 1 or it can come after a King, but not both at the same time. For example, you cannot lay down King-Ace-2 and call it a run.

The play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. He can either take the card that’s face up if it matches something in his hand or he thinks it will be useful later, or he can draw one from the deck. Once he draws, he has to see if he can make a run or a set in his hand. If he can, he lays down face up whatever he has. Say he has three 5′s; he can lay those down. Or say he has a 10-Jack-Queen of hearts; he can lay that down. You can lay down as many cards as you are able each time it’s your turn.

Once he’s done, he discards one card that he doesn’t need face up next to the pile but not completely covering the cards that are there. As this face-up discard pile grows, keep it fanned out so you can see all of them. A player can take any card from the discard pile he wants, but the catch is he has to take any cards that are on top of it as well.

You can only lay cards on the table during your own turn between when you draw a card and when you discard. You may not lay down any cards before you draw or after you discard, and certainly not during anyone else’s turn.

As play continues, you can add to whatever you’ve already laid down, and you can play on other people’s cards too. Say one of the players has laid down a 7-8-9 of clubs, and when it’s your turn, you draw a 10 of clubs. You can lay that card in front of you and it counts as your point, but you’re playing off of their cards.

When someone gets rid of all their cards, the hand is over, and each player counts his points. Note that he has to discard something, though, to end the hand. If he has two 7′s in his hand, and on his turn, draws a third 7, he cannot lay those down and say “I’m out.” He will have to discard a 7 and hope it’s still there on his next turn, at which point he’ll have to take whatever cards are on top of it and hope there’s just one so he’ll have a card to discard.

Those players with cards left in their hand when someone goes out have to subtract those points from the ones they have on the table. Say you have a 5 and a King in your hand and someone else goes out. That’s 15 points that you have to subtract from the cards you’ve laid on the table.


Each card has a value, shown below:

Ace = 15 points
2 through 9 = 5 points
10 through King = 10 points
Queen of spades = 40 points

It’s great if you can use the Queen of spades in a run or a set but if you get stuck with it in your hand when someone goes out, it’s gonna hurt!

So once everybody counts up their points, subtracting whatever they had in their hand, the scores are written down, and another hand is dealt, by the person to the left of the original dealer and so on. First one to accumulate 500 points wins!

This can be a long, drawn-out game, so you can adjust the rules so that the first person to 200 or 300 points is the winner.

For some adorable dog playing cards, click on the photo (they have a whole bunch of different breeds).
Chihuahua Playing Cards

Image: posterize /

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