I’ve played a lot of different card games over my lifetime, such as President/Asshole, Rummy 500, Hearts, Spades, Cribbage and Yuker, but I find that our self-invented and adapted card game of Rummy 600 is the most fun. And practical, because you can play with any number of people.
In case you don’t know the rules of Rummy 500, I’ll write them quickly here, but if you already know those, you can skip to the modified rules here.
Deal out 7 cards to each player.
There are 52 cards in a deck, so the more players you have the less remains in the deck and at some point you will consider it is the opportune moment to introduce another deck of cards into the game. The problem is that, as soon as you have more than one deck of cards, you have more than one of each card, which changes the dynamics of the game entirely, but still fun.
Once you deal out the cards, the dealer flips over the top card of the remainder of the deck (placing it face up NEXT to the remainder deck), which becomes the play for the person left of the dealer.
That person has a choice of picking up that visible card or draw the hidden (face down) card from the top of the deck.
Drawing only the top card from the face-up row is free, meaning you do not have to use it right away.
You can pick the top (face down) card of the deck or the top (face up) card of the discard row for free. You do not have to use it but you always must throw a card away (on top of the row of discarded cards in such a manner as to always show all the cards beneath it).
If you pick up more than the top card in the row of discarded cards, you MUST immediately use the bottom card of that selection.
For example, you have a row of discarded face-up cards spreading out from the deck of hidden remaining cards, and somewhere within that row there is a 3 of hearts. You have two 3s in your hand, so you can pick up that 3 in the discarded row, plus every card on top of that card. In this case you MUST immediately put down that 3 of hearts to create a SET, which is three cards minimum.
A set can be three of a kind (such as three 3s), or a three card run, such as a 2, 3 and 4 of hearts.
Once you have put down your first set (of 3s), you are able to add to other people’s sets (and obviously your own). You just show where you are adding it and put it next to your own point cards, since you get the points for it.
For example, you put down a 2, 3 and 4 of hearts, but you notice one opponent has three 7s and another opponent has 3 Jacks laid out face up in front of them. If in your hand you have the last 7 and the last Jack of those sets, you can lay them down in your face-up discard section in front of you.
At the end of the game, all your cards laid out face-up in front of you are PLUS, while all the cards left in your hand are MINUS.
All cards from 2 to 9 are worth FIVE points each, while Ten, Jack, Queen and King are worth TEN, and Ace is worth FIFTEEN (the Joker, in our rules below, is worth TWENTY).
You can have a run of Ace 2 3 (of the same suit) or Queen King Ace, but you cannot use King Ace 2. The Ace must be either a high or a low card (although in either case it is always worth fifteen points).
The game ends as soon as someone gets more than 500 points, the person with the most points at the end of the game being the winner. For our game below the end point is instead 600.
Hopefully I got all the rules above, but now for the juicy stuff that we amended to make the game more fun. We modified the rules while I was just playing with my wife, so two people, but can be easily expanded for more people, introducing other decks when necessary. But personally, I found that playing with only one deck is more fun, because you have to keep track of the cards more.
One big difference is that the dealer (as in Runny 500, the dealers rotate in a clockwise direction as does the order of the players) can decide how many cards each player gets (as opposed to always only 7).
Now we have come up with two extremes (maximum or minimum number of cards each), which we will explain as special instructions right here:
Each person gets two cards, but because it is less than 4 cards, obviously it will not be possible to create a set (because you must always throw away one card at the end of each turn). In these two cases (2 or 3 cards dealt out to each player) every player is allowed to add to other players’ sets without first having to put down a set (of three cards) themselves.
For example , the other players have been fortunate to pick up cards from the face-up row of discarded cards and accumulate some points, but by chance the last person without any cards on the table manages to add his two cards to other players’ sets without putting down any set of three cards beforehand, hence, winning that hand. A two card hand can be quite interesting!
The same rule applies with 3 cards dealt to each player because…
as with the 7 card game of Rummy 500, YOU MUST ALWAYS DISCARD a card at the end of your turn!
At the other end of the spectrum, we like to call it “Tiny hands“, because you are dealing out the maximum number of cards. With only two players, we found 24 cards a good maximum, because that leaves only 6 cards remaining face down in a 54 card deck, meaning…
You play with the JOKERS!!!
Adding a Joker (wild card) makes the game even more dynamic.
Now this is where it starts to get complicated.
If one player uses a joker to make a set, such as Jack, JOKER and King of hearts, another player can steal it.
If the other player has a Queen of hearts, they can replace that Joker with their Queen, BUT!! They must use it right away (meaning put it down face up in front of them, as long as it is added with some set).
There are a few quirky rules regarding this, so here they go:
- for example if you put down 2 Aces with one Joker, another player must replace that Joker with the two remaining Aces.
For example, the first player puts down an Ace of Clubs and Spades, and a Joker. If another player offers an Ace of hearts, the first player can say, “Well, my Joker is an Ace of diamonds!” Hence, the second player cannot replace it (but can add the points to their own section anyway).
However, if an Ace of diamonds is used by another player in one of their sets, it is already used up, meaning the second player can now take the first player’s Joker with their Ace of hearts!
- replaced means replaced, meaning, if allowed, you give your Ace to the player you are taking his Joker from, replacing it, but still, you MUST use your Joker right away (the person who ends up with the Joker takes the 20 points, while the first player counts their points in the usual manner).
Back to the concept of Tiny Hands (called this way because my wife has tiny little Filipino hands and I laugh as I watch her tying to hold that many cards in her tiny hands), one important rule we added is the following:
- since the deck of remaining cards (six seems to be a good minimum) is so few, and this applies with any other number of cards dealt to each person, if one player picks up the last card, as usual, they must always discard something. But if the next player wants to continue, whatever card they pick up from the remaining face-up discarded cards, THEY MUST use, otherwise that hand is finished, capito, konec, hotovo vole (that hand is finished and the points calculated).
For added bonus, when your opponents have a lot of cards in their hands and you are in the fortunate position of laying down all your cards, ending that hand with a bang, we like to do so with a modest cough at the same time.
And if you card play your way around the world like us, we’d be happy to host you on one of our custom private or group boat tours in the Philippines!