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Playing 5000 Rummy: A Family Tradition

Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.

5000 Rummy


A Family Tradition

I don’t remember how we learned the card game of 5,000 Rummy, but I do remember many hours at Mama’s dining room table playing it with her and other friends and family. It is a long game better enjoyed with coffee, snacks and talking and laughing. Sometimes Daddy would get impatient with our socializing, which got pretty lively to the point we’d forget whose turn it was to deal.

“Are you going to talk or play cards?” he’d say. We’d get serious about the game again – for a few minutes, then go right back to our conversations. It didn’t matter so much who won, just the fun of being together. Playing “cutthroat” as Daddy called it, was not our style.

It is still a favorite card game whenever a bunch of us get together. So, perk a pot of coffee and set out some snacks. Deal me in!

Rules of the Game

The biggest difference from 5000 and 500 Rummy is the deal. It can be played with two decks if there are more than 3 or 4 playing. Use the Jokers, too.

The dealer starts by turning up the first card of the person to their left. The value of that card determines how many cards that player is dealt. For example, if the card is a five that player gets five cards. For face cards, the hand is 10 cards. Aces and Jokers deliver a 15-card hand (hence the need for an extra deck with extra players). And so it goes, around the table until the dealer lastly deals his/her own hand. In that last hand, the dealer receives an additional card which is dealt and turned up for all to see. This last card determines the wild card for the round. For example, if the dealer’s extra, turned-up card is a 2, then all 2s are wild for everyone for the round. If a Joker is turned up for the wild card, since it is already wild, the dealer gets yet another turned-up card, and that card determines the wild card for the round.

The plays are done just like in 500 Rummy, beginning with the draw and ending with a discard. The draw can either be picking the top card off the deck or picking up cards from the discard pile. In the second option, the player must play the earliest card drawn from the discard pile and any cards not played go into the player’s hand. Players lay down runs of a suit (at least 3 consecutive cards of the same suit) or a book (3 or 4 of a kind). Players can also play on opponents’ played cards. Note when playing with an extra deck, if a 4th card is played on another player’s three of a kind, that “kills” those cards – a 5th card cannot be played on that particular book. However, a second book of those same three can be played (and played on). When finished with his/her play, the player must discard a card, unless he/she is able to play all the cards in his hand. Without a card to discard in that case, the player “floats” and the game continues until someone has only one card left to discard.

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Card Values and Scoring

Card Values and Scoring

Players count their points for all cards played in each round. In addition, the winner of each round collects all of the cards each other player is still holding in their hands and adds those points as part of his or her own score.

Aces count as 100 points unless they are the wild card; then they are worth 200. Jokers are worth 100. Face cards and tens are worth 10. All other cards are worth 5 points.

The game ends when a player reaches 5000 points.


Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 11, 2018:

I love this reminiscing about your family card games. You must have very good memories of those times. I only play games now when I'm with my grandchildren.

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