Fortune Rummy

Written by Howard Fosdick ©

Overview: Here's a "scoring rummy" in which the objective is to score the most points by melding cards to the table. You can play it with anywhere from two to eight players. It usually works best for three to five.

Equipment and Deal: The game uses two standard decks of 52 cards. Each player is dealt 11 cards, and one card is left face-up on the table to start the discard pile. The remaining cards become the drawing stock.

Card Ranking: Aces may be played either high or low, so the card ranking from low to high is: A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A. Deuces are wild and can used to represent any other card.

Objective: The object of a hand is to score points by melding cards to the table. Any cards left in one’s hand at the conclusion of a hand count against the player holding them. The first player to win at least 500 points across as many hands (deals) as it takes wins the game.


In his turn —

  1. The player takes one or more cards into his hand. He has a choice: he can take either the single top card of the drawing stock, or he can take all the cards in the discard pile.
    If the player takes up the discard deck, he must immediately put down a meld in which the topmost discard is embodied. This meld must include at least two cards from the player’s hand. The player will do this first, prior to taking up all remaining cards in the discard pile as required. This prevents reneging (error) in an attempt to pick up the discard pile.
  2. The player places face-up on the table any meld(s) he wishes to play. A player may add cards to his own melds on the table but may not play on opponent’s melds.
  3. The player ends his turn by playing one card face-up to the top of the discard pile. Cards in the discard pile are squared such that only the single topmost card is visible at any time. Players may not look at any cards in the discard deck hidden by the topmost card.

Melds: The two kinds of valid melds are:

  1. 3 or 4 cards of the same rank (eg: 4-4-4 or 4-4-4-4)
  2. A sequence of 3 or more cards in the same suit (eg: 5-6-7 Hearts or 5-6-7-8-9 Hearts)

You can have any number of cards in a sequence meld but only a maximum of four in a set meld. Aces may be played either high or low, but not “around the corner” (K-A-2-3). Deuces can not be melded together in a 2’s meld, they can only act as substitutes for cards of other values in melds.

Queen of Spades: You can not discard the Queen of Spades -- unless it is your last discard and you are going out. If you have the Queen of Spades in your hand, your only two options are either: (1) play it to a table meld (2) discard it when you go out (rummy).

Hand End: A hand ends when one player empties his hand of all cards (he rummies). A player may optionally discard one card when going out.

At the conclusion of the hand, each player scores the difference (positive or negative) between the totals of the cards he has scored to the table versus those cards still in his hand. The player who rummies does not get a bonus for going out. However, he does not score any negative points for cards in his hand (since he doesn’t have any).

In the rare event that the discard pile goes empty while play is in progress, all cards in the discard pile are immediately turned over (with the exception of the upcard) and the hand continues with those cards as the new stock. The cards are not shuffled, just turned over.

Scoring: Cards score when melded to the table as follows:

King down to 810
7 down to 3 5
Ace (played high)10
Ace (played low) 5
Ace (as set of Aces)10
2 (played as K down to 8)10
2 (played as 7 down to 2) 5
2 (as Queen of Spades)10
Queen of Spades50

Cards left in a player's hand at hand's end score negative points against that player as follows:

King down to 8-10
7 down to 3 -5
Queen of Spades-50

Tips for Play: Similar to most scoring rummies, play your points to the table. Don’t get caught with them in hand (especially heavy cards). Track when your opponent might rummy and dump high cards to the discard deck just prior to this.

Score Queens of Spades as quickly as possible if you draw them, because if you draw them late in the game, you may have little chance to meld them. Some players keep other queens or other cards in hand so that they can quickly meld the Queen of Spades if they draw it.

Optimize the use of your deuces to maximize your score. Consider keeping one in hand to prevent from being caught with the Queen of Spades for penalty.

Rules Variations: A few play that you can play more than 4 cards to a single set meld. When the draw stock runs out, some shuffle the discards before reconstituting the stock from them, while others merely turn them over without shuffling. Some play that Aces count 15 points (instead of 10) when played as a set of Aces.

Sources: John Scarne's book Scarne on Cards is the original source for this game which appears in few other sources.

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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