What is Three Thirteen?
Three-Thirteen, also known as 3-13, or Three-Through-Thirteen, is a meld-making game in the Rummy Family of card games. Specifically, Three Thirteen a variation in which all cards are kept in the hand, and are not set out onto a Play area where other Players may use your melds to form their own melds.
How to Play Three Thirteen?
The game instructions begin with forming the deck. Three Thirteen may be played with 2-4 Players, and could even be played with more if more decks are added.
Generally, one deck per two people playing is considered enough. Three Thirteen uses the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck, and multiple copies of that same deck depending on the number of Players.
The Dealer is chosen randomly, and from then on the Dealer position will move across the table clockwise.
There are 11 total rounds in a game of Three Thirteen, with each round dealing a different number of cards. This is where the game gets its name. In the first round, Players are dealt 3 cards each. In the eleventh round, Players are dealt 13 cards each. Hence, Three Thirteen.
Once each Player is dealt the requisite cards for the round, the remaining cards are placed face-down In the center of the table, acting as the stock.
During each round, the wild cards also change. In round 1, Threes are wild, In Round 2, Fours are wild. This continues on through the ranks in order, ending in round 11 with the “thirteenth” card, the King. This means that wild cards change from round to round.
Unlike other Rummy Games, Players do not place their cards down on the table. Instead, they must form their melds in their hand.
The start of each round is begun by the “eldest hand”, or the Player immediately to the left of the Dealer. As it is round 1, 3 cards have been dealt to Player 1. They must then draw one card from the stock of remaining cards, and then discard one card to the side of the stock, creating the discard pile.
On subsequent turns after the first, Players may choose to draw the top card from the discard pile, instead of the stock. However, they must still discard a card at the end of their turn.
The aim of the game is to “Go out” with the fewest amount of penalty points possible. Like in most Rummy games, these penalty points are assigned for “deadwood”, cards that do not fit into a meld that are remaining in the hand at the end of a round.
A Player chooses when they wish to Go out, declaring it at the end of their turn after they have discarded. When this happens, each other Player will be able to take their turn normally. When it is the declaring Player’s turn once again, the round ends and deadwood scores are tallied.
There are two melds in Three Thirteen: Sets and Sequences.
A Set is a grouping of cards that all have the same rank (Ace, 2-9, 10, Jack, Queen, King). There must be at least three cards in a Set for it to be considered valid, but there may be more than three in any given set. For example, 5♥, 5♦, 5♣.
A Sequence is a grouping of cards that are all the same suit (♥♦♣♠) and are ascending or descending in order. This is similar to a Straight Flush from Poker. For example 3♦,4♦, 5♦.
Forming these melds in the hand prevents the cards within the melds from being counted as deadwood. However, keep in mind that a card can only be used for one meld at a time. So a 4♦ that fits in a sequence of 3♦ and 5♣ or a set of 4♣, 4♠ must be used for one of these melds.
In this situation, it does not matter, as 4+4 and 3+5 are both 8, making their deadwood scores the same.
Ending and Winning
The game continues, with deadwood scores being tabulated in a grand total for each Player between rounds. At the end of the 11 stipulated rounds of play, the Player with the lowest score is the winner.
- Normal Rummy rules designate Deadwood as all non-melded cards remaining in the hand after a Player has “gone out”
- When the stock is emptied, it is considered an immediate end to the round. The Player which draws the final stock card must discard one card, and then deadwood scores will be tallied.
- Aces are always low in Three Thirteen, and do not rank above King. Q, K, A is not a valid sequence meld.
- Wildcards change each round, starting with threes, then fours, and so on, until Kings in the 11th round.
- A meld may have as many wild cards in it as possible, and three wild cards on their own may form a meld of the Player’s choice, either a Sequence or a Set, for the purposes of melding more cards.
The following score sheet will explain the penalty points for deadwood scores for Three Thirteen.
Remember that the lower deadwood score is better. Each card remaining in the hand that was not melded will grant the Player the following penalty points:
The following is a possible example hand in round 5 of Three Thirteen.
7♦, 10♣, 7♥, K♠, Q♠, J♦, 4♥
And assume that this Player drew:
In Round 5, Players should be dealt seven cards, and 7s will be wild cards for the round. This means that this Player has 2 wild cards in their hand, allowing for an immediate meld with the K♠, Q♠ sequence, or they can hope for the J♠ and plan on using the wild cards to form other melds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ace high or low in Three Thirteen?
Aces are always low in Three Thirteen. They can never rank above a King in a sequence, and are only worth a single penalty point if they are deadwood.
Can you play the 3-13 card game online?
Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any reputable websites that offer this particular version of Rummy for free.
When do I go out in Three Thirteen?
A Player declares that they are going out at the end of their turn, immediately after they have discarded their card for the turn. This tells other Players they only have one more turn to make their melds before the round will end.