three thirteen card game

OBJECTIVE OF THREE THIRTEEN CARD GAME: Create sets and runs with cards and score the fewest points over 11 rounds.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 4 players

MATERIALS OF THREE THIRTEEN CARD GAME:  standard 52-card for 2 players, 2 standard decks for 3 to 4 players

TYPE OF GAME: Card game

AUDIENCE: All ages


If you’re a big fan of rummy games, we’ve got you covered with this super fun variation. Also called 3-13 and Three-Through-Thirteen, Three Thirteen is an entertaining card game that is played out over a whopping 11 rounds!

Just like other rummy games, you’re going to need a combination of strategy and luck. With each round presenting new opportunities and challenges, Three Thirteen offers endless possibilities for strategic maneuvers and, of course, a ton of fun with friends and family! Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the game, here are the rules for the Three Thirteen card game.


First things first, you’ll need the right number of decks. If only two people are playing, you’ll need a single 52-card deck (a standard deck without the two jokers), but if three or four people are playing, you’ll need two decks to ensure there are enough cards for the last round. There are 11 whole rounds, after all!


Choose the dealer at random, with the deal passing to the left after each round.

There are 11 rounds in Three Thirteen, and in each round, players are dealt a different number of cards. Cards are dealt in the following sequence:

  • Round 1: 3 cards
  • Round 2: 4 cards
  • Round 3: 5 cards
  • Round 4: 6 cards
  • Round 5: 7 cards
  • Round 6: 8 cards
  • Round 7: 9 cards
  • Round 8: 10 cards
  • Round 9: 11 cards
  • Round 10: 12 cards
  • Round 11: 13 cards

Cards that remain after the deal in that round are placed on the table, face-down, to form a stockpile. Then, just like in other rummy games, flip over the top card beside it to begin the discard pile.


In Three Thirteen, Aces are low and Kings are high, with cards ranking from A, 2, 3… Q, K.


Each round has a different wild card as well! You can substitute these cards for any other card in a run or set in order to complete it. In order for a set or run to be valid though, at least one non-wild card must be played.

  • Round 1: 3s
  • Round 2: 4s
  • Round 3: 5s
  • Round 4: 6s
  • Round 5: 7s
  • Round 6: 8s
  • Round 7: 9s
  • Round 8: 10s
  • Round 9: Jacks
  • Round 10: Queens
  • Round 11: Kings


3 13 card game

Unlike your standard rummy game, players do not place any formed melds onto the table for other players to see. Instead, players must secretly form melds in their hands. Think: Gin Rummy.

Before we jump straight into the Three Thirteen card game rules, it’s important to understand the objective of the game. In this game, your goal is to “go out” with as few penalty points as possible.

Starting to the left of the dealer, each player takes turns in the following manner:

  1. Drawing a card from the stockpile or the discard – their choice.
  2. Making melds.
  3. Going out (if they can!). If they do not go out, play moves to the left or clockwise.


In the Three Thirteen card game, there are two types of melds you can create: sets and runs.

  • A set is 3+ cards of the same rank. For example, 6-6-6
  • A run is 3+ cards of the same suit. For example, 3-4-5-6 of diamonds.

Melds can have more than three cards BUT a card is only valid in a single combination. You cannot add your cards to other sets or runs. So, for example, if you have a 7 of hearts that could fit into a meld of 7 of diamonds and 7 of spades (a set) OR a meld of 8 of hearts and 9 of hearts (a run), you must choose one of these melds.

Keep in mind that since Aces are low and Kings are high, a run of Q, K, Ace is not valid but a run of A, 2, 3 is.


As mentioned, the objective is to “go out.”

During your turn, you may go out if, after drawing a card to begin your turn, you are able to form all your cards into sets, with one card left to discard. When a player goes out, they must announce it after discarding a card to end their turn.

All other players have 1 more turn before the round is completed and scoring begins.


Once a player goes out, players must try to organize their hand into as many sets and runs as possible for the final turn prior to scoring. Cards that remain in hand and are not part of a meld are given penalty points as follows:

  • Ace: 1 point each
  • 2 to 10: Face value. For example, a 3 is worth three points, and so on.
  • Jack to King: 10 points each

Continue adding and keeping track of the scores from each round.


Keep playing round after round. And after the final round (round 11), the player with the lowest score wins!


There are a few different variations of Three Thirteen rules you can employ if you’re feeling up for a bit of a change or challenge.

  • Ace as high card. Instead of Ace as a low card, you can designate Ace as the highest card. The penalty for an Ace in this case would be a whopping 15 points!
  • Jack, Queen, King points. Instead of J, Q, and K being worth 10 points each, instead, they can be worth 11, 12, and 13 penalty points, respectively.
  • No redemption. Once a player goes out, other players do not get one final turn to better their hand.
  • All wild meld. In standard Three Thirteen rules, you cannot make a meld of only wild cards, but some variations state that you may.
  • Going out mistake. If a player goes out by mistake, they get a penalty of 20 points.


Did you love playing Three Thirteen? We did too! The best thing about rummy-style games is that there are so many variations and games you can play. Here are some of our favorites:


Are Aces High or Low in Three Thirteen?

In Three Thirteen, Aces are always low. So, in a run, an Ace cannot be placed above a King. Instead, it should be paired with 2, 3, 4… and so on.

Is Three Thirteen a Kid-Friendly Game?

Definitely! If your child is familiar with rummy-style card games, they’ll love Three Thirteen!

Mia Kim


    • Hi Marie, yes the rules state you can play a combination of 3 or more cards all of the same suit so a flush of 5 cards all of the same suit is a valid play. Let me know if there is still any confusion or if I misunderstood the question at all.

  1. If a player accidentally discards a wild card, can any player pick it up, or just the next player, before the original player realizes their mistake?

    • HI Judy only the next player to draw will have the option to draw the discarded wild card. If the next player does not draw it then it will no longer be able to be drawn as it will be covered by the next player’s discard. I hope this helps.

  2. Just played the game for the first time. The people that taught us allowed going out even if you had mismatched cards left in their hand.
    Just added the points to their score, is that allowed?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Bruce, in the base game this is not allowed, and I do not know of any variations that allow for this either. When going out you need to have all your cards from hand in sets and have one card remaining to discard. I hope this helps.

  3. Can a discard be a “player” in your hand? Say you have 4 Jacks. Can you discard that fourth Jack? Or must it be a card that is not in any of a players other sequences? Also, there’s no laying down as you go, correct? Laying down and going out are one and the same?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Alicia, yes you may discard a card that can technically be played to your set or run. And yes there is no melding or laying off. you must be able to go out with only the cards in your hand and one discard. I hope this helps.

  4. Is it a card rule, when playing 13, that you must pick up your card first from the deck, before laying down your cards. Or can you do either or?

  5. We use jokers as constant wild cards and should you somehow get stuck with one in hand it costs you 20 points. Plus we allow a sequence of KA2 as a full wrap around.

    • Hi Jody only the next player to draw will have the option to draw the discarded wild card. If the next player does not draw it then it will no longer be able to be drawn as it will be covered by the next player’s discard. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Sheila, yes in order to make a combination it needs to be 3 or more cards either of the same rank or of the same suit in continuous ranking order.

  6. Once one player goes out, do the next players, taking their turn, have to discard? Or can they lay all cards if they play?

    • Hi Pat, yes to go out a player must announce before playing their sets and must have a card to discard. This remains the same for each player whether or not someone has previously gone out.

  7. We play with jokers as wild, you can not go out on your first play (turn) and if you go out first it is scored as a -5. Also, J score as 11, Q is 12 and K is 13. May not be the correct rules we love it and have a blast every Sunday.

  8. We play this game for money. Usually just quarters, but you could use other denominations. Everyone starts with 12 quarters. The winner of each of the 11 rounds gets a quarter from each of the other players. The 12th quarter goes to the winner of the game.

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