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Cards And Dominoes
Fortune Rummy

--- On This Page --- Scoring Rummies ---

Fortune Rummy, Arlington (Oklahoma Rummy), Evanston, 500 Rummy, Partnership 500 Rummy, Persian Rummy, Iceberg, Skarney, Comparison chart.

Rummies where players score for melds to the table are among the most sophisticated.

Fortune Rummy is a fast moving game with a large luck element that was popular in the Midwest back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Almost unheard of today, the original published source for the game is Scarne on Cards.

Arlington is more popular. Also known as Oklahoma Rummy, its rules differ from those of Fortune Rummy in several minor ways. But the small rules changes alter play significantly.

Finally we present our favorite version of these games, which we’ve christened Evanston. This game is of our own invention and modifies rules into the formulae we’ve found most exciting.

Fortune Rummy—

This is a game for anywhere from two to eight players. It works best with four or five.

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.

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.

Deuces are wild and can used to represent any other card. Card point values when played in
melds to the table are—


K down to 8

10 points each

7 down to 3

5 points each

Ace

10 points when played high in a meld (A-K-Q)

 

5 points when played low in a meld (A-2-3)

2

10 points when representing K through 8

 

5 points when representing 7 through 3

 

10 points when representing the Queen of Spades

Queen of Spades

50 points each




















Cards left in a player’s hand at the end of the deal counts points against that player--
 

K down to 8

-10 points each

7 down to 3

-5 points each

Ace

-10 points each

2

-10 points each

Queen of Spades

-50 points each

 



 
 




The valid melds are the same as Gin Rummy—

                   1.   3 or 4 cards of  the same rank
                   2.   A sequence of 3 or more cards in the same suit

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.

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.

A hand ends when one player rummies all his cards to the table. A player can optionally discard a 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.

Strategy—

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. 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--

Most play that you can not discard the Queen of Spades unless you have no other card. 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.

More Information—  Scarne on Cards is the original source for this game which appears in some other books.
 

Arlington (or Oklahoma Rummy) --

While Fortune Rummy is little known today, its sister game Arlington is widely popular. The rules of the game are highly similar to those of Fortune Rummy (described above). Here we just summarize the differences between the two games.

Use two standard card decks, as in Fortune Rummy. Deuces are still wild. However, deal each player 13 cards (instead of 11), and play to 1,000 points across hands to win the game (instead of 500).

Rules for the discard deck, taking it up into one’s hand, and melding are all the same as in Fortune Rummy. As before, players can only add to their own melds on the table.

Card values differ slightly—

K down to 8

10 points each

7 down to 3

5 points each

Ace

20 points (whether played high or low in a meld)

2

10 points when representing K through 8

 

5 points when representing 7 through 3

 

25 points in a meld of Deuces only (Scarne rules only)

 

50 points when representing the Queen of Spades (Scarne)

Queen of Spades

50 points each

  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 






You may meld a set of deuces only, in which case each 2 in the meld scores 25 points. Deuces can not represent the Queen of Spades unless they replace that card in a meld that is otherwise fully natural (eg: King of Spades, Deuce, Jack of Spades).

The Queen of Spades can not be discarded, unless you have no other card in your hand.

Negative points are the same as above, with the exception that Queens of Spades in hand count –100 points each. Deuces in hand count –20 points each.

A player who rummies scores an extra 100 points for the feat (versus Fortune Rummy, which has no going-out bonus.)

Joker - Optional Rule -- Some add one Joker as a special wild card that counts 100 points when melded or –200 if caught in hand at deal’s end. Whoever melds the Joker may later take it back in hand by replacing it with the natural card it represents. They may then use the Joker again later. Some play that only the person who first melded the Joker may take it back; others play that anyone may take the Joker in hand by replacing it with its natural card in the meld

Rules Variations-- Some sources state that, as in Fortune Rummy, a player can only take up the discard pile by melding its topmost card with at least two cards coming from his hand (Parlett). Others merely say one must immediately meld the top discard, without saying one must include two cards from one's hand in this meld, so melding the topmost discard with any combination of existing table melds or cards from one's hand is permitted (Scarne, USPC). I've found either rule supports a fine game. Most play that set melds max out at 4 cards and that sequences can be of any length but a few disagree.

More Information-- These rules are from Oxford: A-Z of Card Games by David Parlett and Scarne on Cards.
 

Evanston (aka Wildcat Rummy) --

Fortune Rummy and Arlington are among our favorite games. Over time, we’ve evolved our own set of rules to reduce the overly dominant luck element and increase playability. We’ve streamlined scoring and offer a better game for two. I call my invention Evanston (or Wildcat Rummy).

Deck – Take two standard 52-card packs with identical backing. Remove all the 2’s. If three or more play, add four Jokers, for a total of 100 cards. If two play, add only two Jokers, for a total of 98 cards. The Jokers are wild cards that can be used to represent any other card.

Deal – Deal each player 11 cards. Turn one card face-up on the table to start the discard pile. The remaining cards become the drawing stock.

Goal – Score points by melding cards to the table. Cards left in one’s hand at the conclusion of the hand count against the player holding them. Game is first to 500 total points across as many deals as needed.

Play – In his turn, a player:

     1. 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 chooses to take up the
         discard pile, he must first take the topmost card only and meld it to the table.
Only after he does
         this does he take up the remainder of the discard pile into his hand. The required meld containing the
         topmost discard can not include any other cards from the discard pile.

     2. The player places face-up on the table any meld(s) he wishes. 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 should be squared such that only the single topmost card is visible at any time.
Players
         may never look at any cards in the discard deck hidden by the topmost card.

         If the player took the discard pile into his hand during his turn, his single face-up discard starts the new
         discard pile

Players must keep their hands in view of others at all times. One is not allowed to hide how many cards he has left in his hand. Players must tell others how many cards they have in hand upon request.

Hand End – A deal ends when one player melds his entire hand to the table. The player may optionally discard when going out. The player who goes out or rummies scores a 50 point rummy bonus.

Each player scores the difference between the point total of the cards he has melded to the table versus the point total of those cards still in his hand. If a player has more points in hand than he has melded to the table, he receives a negative score for the hand.

In the rare event that the draw pile goes empty while play is in progress, all the cards in the discard pile except the topmost one are turned over, shuffled, and re-used as the drawing stock.

Melding – There are two kinds of melds:

     1. A set of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank               example:  K-K-K
     2. A sequence of 3 or 4 cards in the same suit      example:  3-4-5-6 of spades

No meld can contain more than four cards.

Once played to the table, melds may not be altered in any way, other than to add a fourth card to a three-card meld.

Aces are the highest card (Q-K-A). They cannot be played low.

Players may not form an all-Joker meld (Joker-Joker-Joker). Every meld must contain at least one natural card. Jokers may only be used to represent other cards in the deck.

Jokers may only represent a Queen of Spades when played to an otherwise all-natural sequence meld, such as the spade melds A-K-Joker or K-Joker-J-10.

Players can only discard a Queen of Spades if they have no other cards in hand (if they are rummying).

Scoring – At hand end, players score points for cards they've melded to the table. They're penalised points for cards left in their hands when their opponent rummies:

               Card:

       Melded Points:

       Penalty Points:

King to 10

                 10

             -10

9 to 3

                   5

               -5

Ace

                 20

           -20

Queen of Spades

                 50

             -50

Joker

same as card it represents

             -20
















Optional Rule for a Faster Game: To shift the focus of the game from scoring table melds to “sudden death” rummying, for the 2 player game, add 2 more Jokers to the playing deck for a total of 100 cards. For 3 to 5 players, play with two full standard decks totaling 104 cards. Do not use any Jokers. All 2's are wild cards.

Tips for Play – Other factors being equal, statistically it makes more sense to try for the third card of a set rather than the third card in a sequence. So go for sets and let sequences pop up as they will.

High cards score more points but beware getting caught with them at hand's end. Some seek high cards early in the game and dump unmelded ones to the discard pile late in the hand. Only do this if it doesn't dig your opponent out of a difficult situation.

Don't waste a Joker in a low meld, score it high, especially as an Ace or Queen of Spades. Remember, you can only meld a Joker for 50 points in a natural spades sequence such as Jack-Joker-King or Joker-King-Ace.

Carefully consider when to take up the discard pile. Taking a deep discard pile means big scores and increases your future meld potential, but it exposes you to a massive loss if your opponent rummies soon after.

The Queens of Spades present a quandary. Since one can not discard them unless one rummies, melding them is key. If possible meld them early on to avoid 50 point penalties. Keeping a Joker or other Queens around for this purpose is sometimes useful. On occasion you'll draw a Queen of Spades late in the hand and have no real chance to meld it. Oops!

Beware the “one card trap”. If you end up with one or two cards in hand, your chances of rummying directly correspond to how many available three-card melds you have on the table. It often it becomes difficult to rummy unless you can reestablish your hand by taking up the discard pile. Retaining more cards may be wiser.

Fortune Rummy

Also On This Page ---

Fortune Rummy, Arlington (Oklahoma Rummy), Evanston, 500 Rummy, Partnership 500 Rummy, Persian Rummy, Iceberg and Skarney
.

500 Rummy is one of the best scoring rummy games. We’ve included it on this web site because, although it is widely played in parts of the United States, it is little known elsewhere. The great English compendiums of card games, for example, never mention it. We share this wonderful game with the world here.

Persian Rummy is simply a four-handed partnership version of 500 Rummy. There are very few partnership rummies -- this is a great one. If you like 500 Rummy, you also enjoy Iceberg.


500 Rummy--

This is a game for two to six players. For two, three, or four players, use one 52-card deck. For five or more players, use two 52-card decks shuffled together. For two players, deal 13 cards each. For three or more players, deal 7 cards each.

Place one card face-up to begin the discard pile, while remaining cards become the drawing stock.

The game is won by the first player to score 500 or more points across as many hands (deals) as it takes.

As in most scoring rummy games, cards played in table melds score points for a player, while cards left in hand score against that player.  

Melds consist of three or more cards as a set of the same rank, or in same suit and sequence. Sequences may be longer than four cards (unlike many rummies where all melds stop at four). 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).

Card values are--

Ace

15 points when played high in a meld (A-K-Q)

 

5 points when played low in a meld (A-2-3)

K down to 10

10 points

9 down to 2

5 points












Aces can be played either in high sequence or low, but not around the corner (K-A-2-3). There are no wild cards in 500 Rummy.

In his turn--

1.   The player 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.  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.

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.

Strategy--  

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 devastaing 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. A fine sense of when the hand might end greatly advantages a player.

Rules 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.


For Further Information--

The authoritative source on this game is usually considered The Official Rules of Card Games, published continuously since 1898 by the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.


500 Partnership Rummy--

The rules are the same as in regular 500 Rummy (above), 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 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 melds. Three 2’s played at once score 15 points, but four 2’s played at once score 40 points.


For Further Information--

Consult the The Official Rules of Card Games, published by the United States Playing Card Company.

Skarney-2

Also see Skarney Gin and John Scarne’s Bio

Skarney is a rummy game in which scoring is both a matter of playing melds to the table and going out first (rummying). It is a bit like Canasta or Fortune Rummy. Along with Persian Rummy, it is one of the very few rummies that makes a fine partnership game for four players.  

Skarney was invented by John Scarne, a magician who befriended Houdini, mobsters, and  Presidents. His life was full -- and so interesting he wrote not one but two autobiographies. You can read his fascinating story here. Here are complete rules to Skarney--

Goal--

To win a Hand by scoring the most points by melds to the table. To win a Game by winning the most total points across 7 hands.

Deck and Deal--

This game can be played by 2, 3, or 4 players individually, or by 4 players in 2 partnerships of 2 players each. We describe the partnership game below first, then the individual-play version.

Use two 52-card decks and add in 4 Jokers, for a total of 108 cards. All 2's and Jokers are wild cards; they can represent any other card in the deck.

The rank of the cards is-- A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. 

         Aces can be played either high or low            (example: A-2-3 or Q-K-A). 
         Aces can not be played "around the corner"   (example: K-A-2).

Deal 11 cards to each player. All remaining cards become the draw pile. Do not turn up any card to start the “discard pile” -- unlike most rummy games, there is no discard pile in this game.

Melds--

Matched cards or melds are played to the table in this game. Cards in melds are scored at the end of the hand, and they determine (in large part) your score for the hand.

You can make two kinds of melds in this game--

         1.  Sets (groups of 3 or more cards of the same rank).   Example: 4 - 4 - 4
         2.  Sequences (3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence)
                     Example:   4 Spades -- 5 Spades -- 6 Spades

Recall that 2’s and Jokers are wild. A meld can have 0 or 1 wild cards in it but  never more than 1.
      
         Valid--   3-Joker-3-3
         Invalid-- 3-Joker-2-3-3                (contains more than 1 wild card)
         Invalid-- 3-2-5-6-2 in Spades      (contains more than 1 wild card)

You can also make special melds consisting solely of matching wild cards. These consist of three or more 2's or Jokers.  

         Examples:     2-2-2    or     Joker-Joker-Joker-Joker

2's and Jokers played in these special melds score more points than they do when played as wild cards mixed into other melds.

You can extend your and your partners' melds (but not your opponents' melds) by adding either 1 or 2 cards to any or all of your melds in your turn. 

At the start of a hand, your immediate goal is to make your team's contract meld and put it down on the table. Until you and your partner make your team's contract meld, you are not allowed to make any other melds. Once your side has made your contract meld, you may:

         1.  Add either 1 or 2 cards to any or all of your team's meld on your turn
         2.  Place any number of additional melds you want down on the table
               (these melds contain 3 or more cards each)

Remember that you may never play cards on your opponents melds.

The contract meld is as follows. For the first 3 hands, it consists of either--

         1. Three Sets of 3 cards each
or
         2. Three same-suit Sequences of 3 cards each

For hands 4 through 7, the contract meld consists of--

         1. Four Sets of 3 cards each
or
         2. Four same-suit Sequences of 3 cards each

So in hands 1 through 3, your contract meld consists of exactly 9 cards. In hands 4 through 7, your contract meld consists of exactly 12 cards.

You can not put down more or less cards for your contract meld. As always, each Set or Sequence in the contract meld may include up to one wild card (2 or Joker).

Once either player on a side plays the contract meld, the contract meld requirement is considered fulfilled for both players on that team.

Play--

In his turn, a player does the following--

   1. Draws 1 card from the top of the draw pile.
   2. He may exchange a natural card for any 2 or Joker his opponents have played
         as a wild card in their melds.

       For example, one of your opponents has the set 4-4-Joker before him. You make
       take his Joker up into your hand by laying a 4 in his meld to replace it.

       You may not take up 2's or Jokers that are not used as Wild cards.   For example,
       if an opponent has a set of 2's or Jokers  (eg: 2-2-2 or Joker-Joker-Joker),
       you can not replace and take up the wild card into your hand.   You can only
       "exchange" for 2's or Jokers used as wild cards to represent some other card
       in the deck.

       Once you have exchanged for a 2 or Joker and taken it into your hand, you may
       use it whenever you like. (You are under no obligation to immediately use it).

       You may not exchange for a wild card in your own or your partner's melds, you
       may only exchange for wild cards used in your opponents' melds.

   3. If you have not yet played your contract meld to the table and are able to do so,
         you play it now.

       If you have already played your contract meld to the table, you may--

                 1.  Play any additional melds to the table you like
                 2.  Lay off either 1 or 2 additional matching cards to any of the existing
                     melds created by yourself or your partner, if you like
  
   4.   If you have more than 1 card in your hand, you now display 1 card to your
         opponent to your left and ask if he wants it. If yes, he takes it into his hand.
         If no, you offer the card to the remaining 2 players around the table in
         clockwise order until someone accepts it into their hand.

         If no one accepts the potential discard, you keep it in your hand.

         If you only have 1 card left in your hand at the end of your turn, you say "1 card"
         and do not offer a potential discard to the next player.

         Aces and wild cards (2's and Jokers) are only offered to the next player to your
         left. If he does not accept it into his hand, you do not offer it to the other players. 
         Instead you merely keep it in your hand.

         Whenever a player accepts and takes an Ace, 2, or Joker into his hand
         as an opponent's discard, that player skips step (1) and does not draw a card
         from the draw pile at his next turn.  Aces, 2's, and Jokers are thus stop cards --
         they stop an opponent from drawing a card at the start of his turn. For all other
         potential discards, whether a player accepts them into his hand or not, he
         always draws one card from the draw pile to start his turn.

End of a Hand--

A hand ends in either of two ways--

           1.  Any player goes out ("rummies") by melding his last card to the table.
or
           2.  A player draws the last card from the draw pile and does not go out.
                 He melds any last cards, then does not offer a potential discard and
                 play stops.

Scoring--

The partnership that rummies gets a hand bonus of 100 points for hands 1 through 3.  This hand bonus increases to--

         200 points for hand 4
         300 points for hand 5
         400 points for hand 6
         500 points for hand 7 

If a partnership rummies before their opponents play their contract meld, they get an additional 200 point shutout bonus in addition to the hand bonus.

If no partnership rummies (the game ends with the last card from the draw pile), the team with the higher number of points wins the hand and scores the hand bonus.

If no partnership rummies and the two teams have the exact same number of points, the hand does not count and no team wins it. (This case is extremely rare).

In addition to one team scoring for going out or rummying, both teams score points for all cards they have in their melds on the table. Here are the points scored for each melded card --

     Joker (in a special Joker-only meld = 100 points
     Joker (used as a wild card) = 50 points
     2 (in a special 2’s-only meld) = 50 points
     2 (used as a wild card) = 25 points
     Ace = 15 points
     K, Q, J, 10 = 10 points
     9,8,7,6,5,4,3 = 5 points

For the side that did not rummy (if any), subtract these points for each card still in their hands--

     Joker = 100 points
     2 = 50 points
     Ace = 15 points
     K, Q, J, 10 = 10 points
     9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 = 5 points

Rules Differences for Individual Play--

Skarney can be played by 2, 3, or 4 persons as individuals. This game is called Skarney Singles. All rules are the same--

           *    Players may swap for the 2's and Jokers of any of their opponents
                 in a turn.
           *    Players may only lay off (add cards to) their own melds.
           *    A player who goes out only receives the shutout bonus of 200 points
                 if none of his opponents has yet played their contract meld.

Skarney Strategy--

We won't spoil the fun by spilling too much about winning strategies. Explore the game for yourself -- half the fun is figuring out its principles.

Here are a few tips-- by playing 2's and Jokers to the table in mixed melds, you expose them to "theft" by your opponents. When they take a 2 from you, you not only lose 25 points but they (usually) also gain 25 points.

Pure 2's or Jokers melds can not be robbed. But if you try for one and fail, penalties are very high for having wild cards in hand when your opponents rummy.

Sets are generally easier to get for contract melds than sequences.

Players tend to accept discards early in the game and when building up weak hands. They tend to reject them later when trying to rummy. Potential discards are direct player-to-opponent card transfers; consider them carefully. This is one of Scarne's unique innovations for play and it leads to interesting dynamics lacking from other rummies.

2's and Jokers score the exact same value regardless of the card they take the place of in a mixed meld. For example, the 2 has the same value in either of these melds--
      
       3-3-2  or  A-A-2.

The 2 in either of these two melds scores 25 points. But playing a 2 with the Aces leads to scoring 30 points for the two Aces (15 + 15) versus only 10 points (5 + 5) for the two 3's.

You score points by the kind of card played to the table in this game. You do not score different numbers of points according to how the card has been played (unlike other rummies like Canasta).

Also Try--

If you like Skarney, you might also try Scarne’s version of Gin, called Skarney Gin. Read our profile of John Scarne here and visit the John Scarne memorial web site.

Alternate Rules--

We have tried to faithfully reproduce all rules above. Scarne mentions two fun variations you should try--

         1.   Omit the four Jokers (play with two regular decks totaling 104 cards).  This reduces the
               “luck element” in the game as there are four fewer wild cards.
         2.   Remove all restrictions on first melds. Meld anything you want, whenever you want. This
               leads to a very “gutsy” game as you can surprise someone holding a lot of cards by
               rummying without having melded -- but of course you could be the player who is surprised!

For Further Information--

Scarne’s Encyclopedia of Card Games has a chapter on Skarney and Skarney Gin. The ultimate authority is his rare book Skarney.  There are some very slight differences in the rules between these two sources. We have followed the more accessible Encyclopedia of Card Games where differences occur.

Iceberg game

Also On This Page ---

Fortune Rummy, Arlington (Oklahoma Rummy), Evanston, 500 Rummy, Partnership 500 Rummy, Persian Rummy, Iceberg and Skarney
.

Here's a new rummy game invented by Alaskan Gordon Bower in 1997. Like all rummies, it's simple to learn and quick to play. Its unique feature is that it increases scores for melds as players add cards to lengthen them.  Hence the name Iceberg-- an initial meld may be just the tip of the iceberg. The game also includes several “special melds” to add interest. 

We've played every rummy there is and along with 500 Rummy, this virtually unknown game is our favorite. A gem.

Goal--

To win a hand by scoring the most points.  For the two-person game, to win a game by being first to accumulate at least 5000 points across hands.

Deck and Deal--

For two or three players, use a single 52 card deck. For four or five players, shuffle two 52-card decks together.

Deal 7 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards face-down to be used as the draw pile.

Play--

Each player follows these steps in his turn--

         1. Pick up the card lying face-down at his left
  
               (When starting the hand, this card may not yet exist for the player--
               see Rule (5). In this case the player just skips this step.)

         2. Draw one card from the top of the draw pile

         3. Immediately place any Ace(s) in his hand face up in front of him

         4. Make any legal melds desired. Players can also lay off cards
               on other player's melds. Melding is voluntary and at the player’s discretion.
              
         5. Discard one card face-down next to his right-hand opponent
               (unless he has no cards remaining)

Scoring for Melds--

                       ---Meld---

---Points---

Pair

       10

3rd card added to a Pair

       20

3 of a kind or 3 in same-suit sequence

       30

4th card in a set or run

       40

5th card in a set or run

       50

6th card in a set or run

       60

7th card in a set or run

       70

8th card in a set or run

       80

9th card in a set or run

       90

10th card in a set or run

     100

11th card in a set or run

     110

12th card in a set or run

     120

fronts_piece03

                     ---Special Meld---

   ---Points---

K-J-9-7-5-3  in one suit

         700

Q-10-8-6-4-2 in one suit

         500

K-J-9-7-5-3  of the same color but mixed suits

         300

Q-10-8-6-4-2 of the same color but mixed suits

         200

                   All cards in any Special Meld must be laid down at one time.

Ending a Hand--

A hand ends when one player goes out ("rummies"), or when all Aces have been played, whichever happens first. You can rummy with or without a final discard.

Scoring at the End of a Hand--

Negative points are assessed for all players still holding cards in their hands at the end of the hand. 

Any playable cards in your hand score the negative point value they would have scored for you as positive points, had you had one more turn in which to meld them.

Non-playable cards still in your hand score -10 points each.

Each Ace acts as a "score multiplier" at the end of the hand. Compute a player’s final score, then double that score if he has one Ace, triple it if he has two Aces, quadruple it if he has three Aces, and so on.

Alternate Rule-- Aces make luck predominant, as score multipliers drastically alter scores based strictly on how many Aces you draw. If you prefer to limit the luck factor, instead play that each Ace is a “bonus card” that adds 20 points to a player’s score.

Example Hand--

Here is a sample hand for the 3-player game (designed by Iceberg's inventor)--

Player A is dealt 987-S, J3-H, QA-D and draws the 3-C. He lays the A-D face up on the table in front of him.   He melds the 9-8-7 (S), scoring 30. He discards the J-H.

Player B was dealt KJ3-S, Q-H, J8-D, J-C and draws the 6-C.  He plays the J-D and J-C, scoring 10, holding onto the J-S, which will be worth 40 if someone plays the J-H. He discards the 8-D.

Player C was dealt: 6-S, 10 9 4 2-D, KQ-C. He draws the A-C from the stock and picks up the J-H discarded by player A.  He plays the A-C; his jack of hearts, which is worth 20 when added to B's pair; and the 6, worth 40 on A's run. He discards the 2-D.

Player A holds 3-H, Q-D, 3-C, picks up the 8-D, and draws the Q-S. He plays his two pairs for 10 each (the 3-H and 3-C, and the Q-D and Q-S).  He then goes out by discarding the 8-D .


Scoring--

Player A earned 30+10+10=50, which is doubled to 100 because he had one ace.

Player B is stuck holding KJ3-S, Q-H, 6-C. He earned 10, but loses 50 for holding 5 cards; 40 for the playable jack of spades; and 20 for the playable queen of hearts, for a total of -100.
 
Player C is stuck holding 10 9 4-D,  KQ-C. The queen of clubs counts -20 (only two queens actually got played) and the 5 cards count -50. His net score is (20+40-20-50)x2=-20.

Alternate Rules--

The original rules employ each Ace at the end of the hand as a "score multiplier." One Ace doubles your final score, two triple it, three quadruple it, and so on. We recommend a more moderate rule that scores 20 points per Ace as bonuses because otherwise the scoring is distorted by how many Aces a player draws and luck becomes predominant.

RMS_Titanic

RMS Titanic departing from Southampton, 10th April 1912.  This was to be the first and only voyage for the “unsinkable” ship.

(Photos courtesy of Wikipedia)

Rummy Comparison Chart
iceberg_Titanic

The iceberg that sunk the Titanic in April 1912, as determined by the red paint stripe near its base.

This handy chart compares key characteristics of all the scoring rummy games on this web page --

Game:

Decks:

Cards Dealt / Player:

Discard Deck:

Wild Cards?

Maximum  Cards/Meld:

Play on Opponents Melds?

Play Aces As:

Rummy Bonus:

Points to Win:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortune Rummy

  2

  11

squared

 2’s

4 for sets, any number seqs.

   no

High or Low

  0

 500

Arlington
(Oklahoma)

  2

  13

squared

 2’s

4 for sets, any number seqs.

   no

High or Low

100

1000

Evanston
  (Wildcat  
   Rummy)

  2

  11

squared

2 to 4 jokers

  4

   no

High

 50

 500

500 Rummy

  1

   7

splayed

none

unlimited

  yes

High or Low

  0

 500

Persian Rummy

1 + 4  jokers

   7

splayed

none

unlimited

  yes

High or Low

  0

 500

Skarney

2 + 4 jokers

  11

none

 2’s, jokers

unlimited

   no

High or Low

varies

varies

Iceberg

1 or 2

   7

none

none

unlimited

  yes

n/a

  0

5000

Robber

  2

  13

squared

none

unlimited

  yes

High or Low

  0

 400

dogs-playing-poker

C.M. Coolidge painted a series featuring card-playing dogs in the early 1900’s
Read more at Wikipedia and see more pictures like this at DogsPlayingPoker.org

book_cover_Scarney02

1st edition Scarney book cover 1967

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