500 Rummy and Persian Rummy

Written by Howard Fosdick © BestFreeNewGames.com

Overview: 500 Rummy is one of the great scoring rummies. It's played in the midwestern United States and appears in several games books, but isn't nearly as widely played as it deserves.

We describe 500 Rummy first, then its four-handed offshoots, Partnership 500 Rummy, and Persian Rummy.

Players: This is a game for two to six players. Four players may play as individuals, or in two partnerships.

Equipment: For two, three, or four players, use one 52-card deck. For five or more players, use two 52-card decks shuffled together.

Deal: For two players, deal 13 cards each. For three or more players, deal 7 cards each.

Remaining cards become the drawing stock. Place one card face up next to the stock. This is the start of the Discard Pile.

Card Rank: Aces can be played either high or low. Thus the cards rank from low to high as: A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A. There are no wild jokers or wild cards in 500 Rummy.

Objective: The goal is to win the hand by scoring the most points, and to win the Game by the being first to score 500 or more points across as many deals as it takes.

Play: In his turn each player:

  1. Takes one card from the top of the drawing stock. Or, he may take one or more cards from the discard pile. All cards in the discard pile are fanned out such that all are visible at all times. The player must immediately meld the bottom-most card he selects from the discard pile. He then must take all the cards above it into his hand. He may then meld or keep these cards in hand, through the rest of his turn, as able.
  2. The player makes any and all meld(s) he cares to. He may play card(s) to his opponent’s melds. In doing so, he lays those cards on his side of the table, stating what melds they are part of.
  3. The player discards one card, face-up, on top of the discard pile. This should be fanned such that all cards in the discard pile remain visible.

Melds: Players may lay down one or more cards to melds on the table during their turn. Players may play off their own melds or their opponent’s melds. When laying off card(s) on opponent’s melds, players place them on their own side of the table (for clear scoring later).

There are two kinds of valid melds:

Sets 3 or 4 cards of the same rank (suits are irrelevant) Example: K-K-K
Sequences 3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence Example: 3-4-5-6-7 of spades

You can have any number of cards in a sequence meld but only a maximum of four in a set meld.

In Sequences, Aces may be played either high or low, but not “around the corner” (K-A-2-3).


Cards played to table melds score points for a player, while cards left in hand when an opponent goes out or "rummies" score against a player:

Card:Points:Penalty Points:
Ace 15 as high in a sequence meld (A-K-Q) -15
  5 as low in a sequence meld (A-2-3) -15
15 points in a set meld (A-A-A) -15
King down to 1010 points -10
9 down to 2  5 points   -5

Hand End: The hand (deal) ends when any player goes out (rummies). A player may or may not discard when going out, as he desires. There is no bonus for rummying.

The Game ends when one player scores 500 points or more over as many deals as it takes.

Rule Variations:

We use the so-called simplified scoring. In traditional scoring, cards ranking below 10 score their individual face values. Some variants of the game use one or two Jokers as wild cards.

Tips for Play:

Concentrate on scoring higher cards early in the game. Dump them to the discard pile if you sense an opponent is about to rummy.

Taking up the discard pile is a calculated risk. It enables you to score but can be devastating if you are caught with many cards in hand at the end of the deal. 500 Rummy is therefore, above all, a game about calculating how close opponents are to rummying. Carefully watch opponents' discards. A fine sense of when a hand might end greatly advantages a player.

Always consider multiple ways to meld any card, especially high cards. "Go where your draws take you", and be flexible mentally in the melds that come to you. Don't get too wedded to trying for a specific set of melds or for certain cards.

Assuming that all Aces are played high, and that you use the simplified scoring system above, there is a theoretical total of 380 scorable points in the deck. (This is based on 4 Aces @ 15 points each; K, Q, J, and 10 @ 10 points each; and 9 down to 2 @ 5 points each.)

Partnership 500 Rummy

The rules are the same as in regular 500 Rummy, except that partners sit across the table from one another. When any one player rummies, the hand stops. Partners compute a single joint score, based on their positive and negative points.

Persian Rummy

This is another form of 500 Partnership Rummy. This variant adds four Jokers to the deck for a total of 56 cards. Jokers may only be melded in groups of Jokers (they are not wild cards and can not be melded in any other manner). Jokers are worth 20 points when melded, or -20 points each if held in hand at the end of the deal.

Any set meld of four cards laid down at once count double. For example, four Jokers laid down in one meld at one time score (4 x 20) x 2 = 160 points. However, three Jokers melded together only score 3 x 20 = 60 points. The fourth Joker, if later added, also scores another 20 points, for a total of 80 points for the entire meld.

This doubling also applies to other set melds. Three 2’s played at once score 15 points, but four 2’s played at once score 40 points.

When one player goes out, the hand ends. The partnership that rummied gets a bonus of 25 points.

The game ends after two deals. The partnership with the highest cumulative score gets a bonus of 50 points, and wins the difference between its final score and that of their opponents.

Sources: The most authoritative source of rules for 500 rummy games is the book Official Rules of Card Games, published continuously by the United States Playing Card Company since 1887. The book is published in the midwestern U.S., where the game is most popular, and has done much to popularise the game.

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License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Written by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME