One standard deck of 52 cards (without jokers) is used.
Each player is dealt 13 cards in 2-player games or 7 cards in 3/4-player games.
At the start of each turn, a player may:
- • Draw a card from the deck (cannot be undone as this reveals hidden information)
- • Pick up the top card of the discard pile. The card cannot be discarded during the same turn.
In 500 rummy ('splayed discard pile'), there is one more option:
- • Pick up any lower card in the discard pile and all cards above that card together. The bottommost card the player took must be melded or be added to a meld immediately.
If the deck has run out and the player does not want to draw a card from the discard pile, the player may end the round instead.
Players may perform any of these actions as many times as they want:
- • Meld three or more consecutive cards of the same suit
- • Meld three or four cards of the same rank
- • Add (lay off) cards to a meld. The meld must be still valid after adding cards.
Unless the player empties their hand by melding/adding (and going out), the player must end the turn by discarding a card to the discard pile. Discarding a card is not required to go out and end the round.
Aces can be used as either high or low in 500 rummy ('versatile aces'), but in basic rummy ('low aces') aces are always low.
In 'Meld/add restriction' option, melding is allowed only once per turn and adding cards to a meld is allowed only after playing at least one meld.
The card scores are:
- • 2 to 9: Face value (same as the number), or always 5 points in 'Simple scoring' option
- • 10, Jack, Queen, King: 10 points
- • Ace: In versatile aces, 15 points unless the ace is used as low (1 point). In low aces, always 1 point. In 'Simple scoring' option, low aces are 5 points instead of 1 point.
In 500 rummy ('meld-hand scoring'), each player scores (the sum of card values melded/added) - (the sum of card values left in hand).
In basic rummy ('positive scoring'), the round winner (who has the lowest hand value) scores the sum of card values in all other players' hands.
If the round ends by the deck running out, the round winner's hand value is subtracted from each hand first. If tied the tied winners split the winning.
In 'negative scoring' option, each player receives the penalty points equal to their hand value.
The game ends when someone reaches the target score.