OBJECTIVE OF TEN PENNIES: Be the player with the lowest score at the end of the game


NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck and 2 Jokers for every two players

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Joker (high)


AUDIENCE: Adults, Family


Ten Pennies is a seven round Rummy game in which players can purchase cards from the discard pile.  By purchasing cards, a pot is formed, and the winner of the game wins the pot.  Of course, real money does not have to be used for this game, but it certainly spices things up. 


Ten Pennies is played using one 52 card deck and two Jokers for every two players.  If there are an odd amount of players, round up the number of decks used.

To decide who the first dealer and scorekeeper is, each player should take a card from the deck.  The highest card deals first.  They also keep score.

Dealer gives each player eleven cards one at a time.  The remaining cards form the draw pile.  The dealer flips the top card over to form the discard pile.


Play begins with the player left of the dealer.  They begin their turn with the option to buy the top card of the discard pile.  If they do not want the card, the player to their left has the option to buy it.  If that player does not want it, the option continues around the table.  Whoever purchases the card must pay a penny into the pot.  After picking up the purchased card, that player must also draw two cards from the draw pile.  Cards may only be played on a person’s turn. 

If the player who is taking their turn did not purchase the card, they draw one from the top of the draw pile.  Then, they move on to the meld building phase of their turn.

In Ten Pennies, players are required to build a specific meld each round before playing others.  If a player is unable to meet the first meld requirement, their turn is over.  They discard one card from their hand to end their turn.  If they can meet or already have met the first meld requirement, that player may play other melds or lay off on previously played melds.  After doing so, they end their turn by discarding one card from their hand.  Play passes to the next player.

Play like this continues until a player has successfully emptied their hand.  You are not required to discard in order to go out. 


In Ten Pennies, a set is the only type of meld that can be made.  A set is made up of three or more cards of the same rank.  Players may not use two of the exact same cards in a set.  For example, a set of 3’s may not have two 3 of hearts in it.  Special rules apply when using wild cards.


During the game, each round will have a first meld requirement that must be met.  Once a player has met the first meld requirement, they may begin playing other melds and laying off cards that can be added to other previously played melds.

Here are the required first melds for each round:

RoundFirst Meld
1.2 sets of 3
2.1 set of 4
3.2 sets of 4
4.1 set of 5
5.2 sets of 5
6.1 set of 6
7.1 set of 7


Once a player has met the first meld requirement, they may build other melds and lay off.  Laying off is when one or more cards is played on previously built melds.  For example, if the meld 3-3-3 is on the table, and on a player’s turn they have the fourth 3 or a wild card, they may lay off that card.

Players may lay off as many cards as possible during a turn. 


Throughout the entire game, Jokers are wild.  During the last three rounds, Aces and 2’s become wild. Note that there are special rules regarding how many wilds may be used per set each round.

Here are the special rules regarding wilds for each round:

RoundWildsNumber of Wilds Per Set
1.Joker1 wild per set
2.Joker1 wild per set
3.Joker1 wild per set
4.Joker2 wilds per set
5.Joker, Ace, 22 wilds per set
6.Joker, Ace, 22 wilds per set
7.Joker, Ace, 23 wilds per set


Once a player has emptied their hand, the round is over.  Players earn points equal to the total value of the cards in their hand.  Players also pay a penny into the money bowl for each card left in their hand.  After the score for the round has been tallied, the player to the left of the previous dealer now deals.

3-95 points each
10-King10 points each
2’s20 points each
Aces20 points each
Jokers50 points each


The player with the lowest score at the end of the game wins.  If playing for money, the winner collects the pot.

Mark Ball
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