OBJECTIVE OF COLONEL: Be the player with the highest score at the end of the game 


NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Ace (high)


AUDIENCE: Kids, Adults


Colonel is a two player Rummy game that incorporates elements of Gin and 500 Rum.  Each player is trying to be the first to empty their hand by creating as many melds as possible.  Much like is 500 Rum, melds can be laid down during a player’s turn, and they can be added to by the opponent.  Also, where as Gin ends in a tie when the draw pile reaches 2 cards, Colonel can be played until the draw pile is depleted.  

The scoring for Colonel is also a bit different from other Rummy games.  This affects the overall strategy for the game because you not only need to empty your hand, but you also must strive to build melds with higher valued cards.


Colonel is played with a standard 52 card French deck.  To decide who is the first dealer, each player should take a card from the deck.  The player with the lowest card deals first.

The dealer should thoroughly shuffle the deck and dole out ten cards to each player.  The remaining cards are placed face down on the table as the draw pile.

The dealer should then flip the top card over to begin the discard pile.  The game is ready to begin.


In this game, players are trying to empty their hand by building melds.  Melds may be laid at the end of each player’s turn before they discard.

In Colonel, there are two types of melds: runs and sets.  Runs are comprised of three or more cards in sequence of the same rank.  For example, 3-4-5 of hearts would make a run.  Sets are comprised of three or four cards of the same rank and suit.  4-4-4-4 would make a set.

An opponent may lay additional cards down that can be added to their melds or their opponent’s melds during their turn.  For example, if Player 1 lays down a 5-6-7 of hearts, Player 2 may lay down the 8 of hearts as part of their meld.   

A player does not have to immediately lay melds to the table once they are formed.


Play begins with the nondealer.  They may take the top card from the draw pile or the discard pile.  After they have drawn, they may play any melds from their hand to the table in front of them.  Their turn ends by discarding one card to the discard pile.

Play then passes back to the dealer.  They draw, meld, and discard.  Play like this continues until one of the players has emptied their hand or the draw pile has run out of cards.  Once either of these two things has happened, the game has ended.  It’s time to tally up the score.


Players earn points for the melds they have laid to the table, and they lose points for any cards left in their hand.  Card point values are as follows:

10’s, J’s, Q’s, K’s, A’s = 10 points each

2’s – 9’s = Worth the value of the card (2’s are two points, 3’s are three points…)

If a player empties their hand, they earn points for the cards they melded.  For example, if the player had a total of 60 points in melded cards, their score for the game would be 60 points.

If a player did not empty their hand, their score equals the difference between the points in their hand and the points from their melds.  For example, if the player had 45 points from melds, and 15 points left in their hand, their score for the game would be 30 points.

If the draw pile runs empty, the game ends immediately and both players find the difference between their melded points and their points left in hand.  

The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins.  If desired, multiple rounds may be played with a running score being kept by the first dealer.

Mark Ball
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