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How to Play Rummy

500 Rum

Another popular Rummy game is 500 Rum, also called Pinochle Rum and Michigan Rum. Here's how to play:

Number of players: Two to eight, but this card game works best with three to five.

Object: To score points for melds and to meld and lay off all your cards.

The cards: For two to four players, a standard 52-card deck. For five or more players, use two standard 52-card decks (remember to use card decks that look the same on the back). Aces can be high or low.

Playing: For two players, deal ten cards each; for more players, deal seven cards each. Count a meld by the value of the individual cards: High aces count 15, low aces 1, face cards 10, all other cards their face value. Unlike Gin Rummy, the discard pile is slightly spread so all cards can be seen.

Play begins at dealer's left. Players may take the top card from stock or any card in the discard pile, not just the top discard, on their turn as long as that card is immediately used in a meld or lay off. When you take a card from the discard pile, you must take all cards above the one you take. On the one hand, these extra cards provide additional opportunities to meld; and on the other hand, they make it more difficult to go out. Place your melds on the table in front of you only after you draw a card and before you discard.

During a turn, players may also lay off cards to their own or other player's melds. Since these lay offs count to your score, also keep the lay-off cards in front of you on the table. A card can be laid off on another lay-off card. Thus, if a 7 is laid off a meld of a 6-5-4, an 8 can be laid off on the 7. Sequences "cannot go round the corner"; that is, if either a high or low ace is used in a sequence, a lay-off card cannot be used off of the ace. Thus, a 2 cannot be laid off on an A, K, Q sequence nor can a K be laid off on an A, 2, 3 sequence.

The game is over when a player goes out by melding or laying off all his or her cards. No final discard is needed. If no one goes out, the game is over when the stock runs out.

Scoring: Players total their melds and lay offs, then subtract the value of the cards left in their hand. No bonus points are awarded for going out. If the points left in the hand exceed the points on the table, that score is subtracted from that player's overall score. A player can have a minus score. The first player to score 500 points or more wins the game. If more than one player exceeds 500 at the end of a hand, the player with the most points wins the game.

Tips: The strategy of 500 Rum is nearly the opposite of other Rummy games. Keep high cards longer, because they're worth more. Since a discard can be available later, you may break up a low-scoring meld, allowing you to pick up more cards later. Be careful: Someone else may have the same idea, and you could lose your card!

As you've seen, there are all sorts of ways to play Rummy. Whichever version you choose, fun will be the name of the game.