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How to Play the Card Game Rummy

Card games are an inexpensive and often fun diversion.
a hand holding playing cards image by Ariil Davidov from Fotolia.com

Rummy is a points-game with hands that consist of 10 cards when two people play, seven cards when three or four play and six cards when five or six people play. The dealer is selected randomly (usually a cut of the deck for high card), and the deal rotates clockwise around the table of players. The ace is always the low card; the royalty cards are all worth 10 points; and the numbered cards are worth their face value. Once the cards are dealt, the deck (or stockpile) is placed in the center of the table, and the top card is flipped and placed beside the deck face up as the discard pile. The game is usually played to 500 points, or any number agreed upon before play begins.

Game Objective

Dispose of the cards in your hand to win the game. This is accomplished through “melding,” “laying off” and discarding the cards.

Place combinations of runs and groups of three or four cards face up in the “melding area” (the area between you and the deck) for “melding.” Runs are cards of the same suit in sequence; groups are three or four of a kind combinations.

Add one or more cards from your hand to “melds” already placed on the table (yours or any other person's) for “laying off.” The “laid-off” card must match the sequence or combination of the “melded” group (for instance, “laying off” a 2 of spades on a neighbor’s run of 3, 4 and 5 of spades) and displayed face up.

Place “laid-off” cards in your own melding area. This lets the points for these cards count toward your total if you win the hand.

Discard one card at the end of your turn. This is a requirement for all but the final hand if you win.


Instruct the player to the dealer’s left to draw one card from the deck or the discard pile.

“Meld” any combinations you may have in your hand no more than once for every turn. (You may also opt to hold your combinations for a “rummy,” but this increases the risk of stealing points from yourself.) “Lay off” as many cards as you wish that match “melds” already on the table.

Discard the least valuable card from your hand to end your turn. Place it face up on the discard pile. If you started your turn by drawing from the discard pile, you may not discard the same card in the same hand. Each player repeats this until one has played all of his cards.

Turn the discard pile over if the stock pile runs out of cards.

“Meld” or “lay off” the last card of your hand to win the hand. This ceases all play. If you decide to hold all of your combinations without “melding” and go out all at once, this is “rummy,” and the points against your opponents double.


Add the total points of each hand from the “melded” and “laid off” cards. For the winner, this is his total score for the hand.

Count the points of the cards remaining in each loser’s hand. This is subtracted from the total points of cards in the “melding area.” This is that player’s score.

Multiply the number of points by two against each loser’s hand (those remaining in hand) if the winner goes out with a rummy.

Subtract all cards remaining in each loser’s hand from his score, including combinations that could have been “melded.” This is the risk of attempting a rummy and losing. A person’s score can be a negative number.

Play until achieving the agreed upon points total to end the game.

Things You'll Need:

  • Standard deck of 52 playing cards
  • Scoring paper


Some rummy variations include discarding cards onto the discard pile in such a way so that all are visible and that any player may pick up any portion of the discard pile as long as he can “meld” or “lay off” the bottommost of these cards.

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