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How To Play Three Thirteen Card Game (Rules)

by Team Taj Rummy
Three thirteen card game rules

If you enjoy playing card games, Three Thirteen is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. This delightful twist on traditional Rummy combines strategy, skill, and a bit of luck. With its distinct rules and gameplay, Three Thirteen offers a refreshing challenge for card enthusiasts. Join us as we explore the rules and strategies of this captivating card game to help you navigate and enjoy it to the fullest. 

What Is Three Thirteen Card Game?

Three Thirteen is a card game, a variation of Rummy, played with a standard 52-card deck. It is designed for 2 to 6 players. The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach a set number of points, usually 300. 

To achieve this, players need to form sets and runs in their hands, using wild cards such as Jokers and deuces, and strategically drawing and discarding cards. The game allows players to “go out” by melding all their cards, and scoring is based on the face value of the cards. 

At the end of the final round, the player with the lowest score is declared the winner. 

How to Play Three Thirteen Cards

Three Thirteen can be played by 2 to 4 players. If you have more players, you can simply include more decks of cards. It is advisable to have one deck for every two players in the game. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the game’s rules and setup, as well as how to form the deck.

  • Three Thirteen Game Objective

In Three Thirteen, the main objective is to be the first player to obtain a score of zero or as close to zero as possible. The game consists of several rounds, and players earn points based on the cards they have at the conclusion of each round.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable game, it is essential to understand how the deck is constructed and the number of decks necessary based on the number of players. Whether you are playing with a single deck for two players or multiple decks for larger groups, Three Thirteen provides an excellent card game experience filled with strategy, excitement, and friendly competition.

  • 3 – 13 Deck Formation

Three Thirteen is played using a standard Anglo-American deck of 52 cards. This deck comprises four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs, each having 13 cards. The game requires one or more decks, depending on the number of players.

Here’s a breakdown of the deck formation:

  • Two Players: In this card game with two players, one standard 52-card deck is sufficient. You can shuffle and use this single deck to play Three Thirteen.
  • Three Players: When playing with three players, one standard deck is still adequate. However, the game may be more competitive and fast-paced with fewer cards available.
  • Four Players: With four players, you can continue to use a single 52-card deck, but the game can become even more exciting. The deck will be shared among all players.
  • Five or More Players: If you have more than four players, you can add extra decks to the game. For each additional pair of players, include another 52-card deck. For example, if you have five players, you can use two decks; if you have six players, use three decks, and so on. This ensures that there are enough cards for everyone to participate effectively.
  • Setting Up the Deck

The first step in preparing your deck for a game is to decide how many decks you will need. Once you have assembled the necessary cards, the next step is to shuffle them thoroughly. Card shuffling is not only about mixing the cards but also about ensuring that there are no discernible patterns left from previous games. 

During the initial setup, it is important to set aside wild cards or jokers for each round. This changes every round, starting with threes as wild in round 1 and ending with Kings as wild in the final eleventh round. The use of wild cards adds an interesting twist to the game strategy and keeps everyone on their toes!

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Determine the Number of Decks: One deck per two players.
  2. Shuffle Cards Thoroughly: No discernible pattern should be visible.
  3. Select Wild Cards/Jokers: Changes every round – threes are wild in round 1, while Kings are wild in round 11.
  4. Inspect the Deck: Quick Deck Inspection before commencing play ensures all necessary cards are present.

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  • Understanding the Rounds

The Round Progression in Three Thirteen is unique, with each successive round increasing the number of cards dealt. Players start with three cards in the first round, four in the second, and so on until they’re dealt thirteen cards by the eleventh and final round. Each new hand introduces a different wild card—from threes in round one to kings in round eleven. This progression allows for increased complexity as players must adapt their strategies to accommodate changing wildcards and growing hands.

Now let’s discuss Round Strategy during your Player Turn. In every turn sequence, you have two main actions: draw a card (either from the discard pile or deck) and then discard a card. You can also lay down melds if possible, but remember that once laid down, these cannot be rearranged or added later in that same turn. Factor this into your strategy before making any moves!

One key aspect of strategic play involves keeping track of which rounds are advantageous due to low penalty values – early rounds, where fewer cards are dealt, bring lower potential penalties while later rounds pose greater risks but also potentially larger rewards.

Round Challenges come thick and fast throughout Three Thirteen game-play because not only do you need to keep tabs on your own hand, but it pays off to observe other players’ discards too! However, don’t lose sight of Round Advantages, such as being able to use newly declared wildcards effectively or seizing opportunities when others fail to make full use of theirs. Keep an eye on those Round Penalties, though; non-melded cards will cost you points! Every card has its penalty value, starting at 1 for Aces and going up till 10 for Kings. Avoid holding onto high-value unmelded cards towards end-game stages unless necessary.

  • The Role of Dealer

In any given round of Three Thirteen, the dealer plays a crucial part in setting up the game for all players involved. The process begins with Dealer selection, which is often done randomly or by mutual agreement among players at the start of play. Regardless of how they’re chosen, their importance cannot be overstated, as they essentially set the tone and pace for each round.

The dealer has certain responsibilities, including shuffling and distributing cards according to each round rules and controlling Dealing speed to ensure smooth gameplay while avoiding dealing mistakes that could disrupt the flow of the match. Moreover, they also have some slight advantages, like being able to read initial reactions from other players based on their dealt hands due to position rotation, which moves clockwise after every hand, giving them an insight into potential strategies employed by opponents.

Dealer etiquette is another essential aspect where fair play must always be observed, ensuring no deliberate attempts are made to gain undue advantage through illicit actions like card marking or other forms of deceitful conduct that ruin the spirit of competition inherent in games such as Three Thirteen.

Although it might not seem so initially, there’s more to being a successful dealer than just handing out cards—it requires vigilance, precision, tact, and, above all else, integrity.

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  • Dealing the Cards

The act of dealing cards forms a crucial pivot, with each round bringing in a different number of cards on the table. The dealer’s responsibilities are manifold and revolve around ensuring player fairness and card equality.

These encompass an array of deal techniques to ensure that each player receives their initial hand from a well-shuffled deck using effective shuffle methods. Card distribution is carried out clockwise, starting from the player left of the dealer and continues until all players have received their due share as per the round requirements.

The following points encapsulate the basics of card dealing and rotation for Three Thirteen:

  1. Each round corresponds to a unique number of dealt cards: Round 1 deals three cards, while Round 11 deals thirteen.
  2. The dealer rotates after every round in a clockwise direction, enhancing deal rotation dynamics.
  3. Thorough shuffling prior to each deal ensures randomness and unpredictability in card distribution.
  4. Initial hands are distributed one at a time; once everyone has got their stipulated count, the remaining ones form the stockpile for gameplay.
  5. The equal opportunity principle is maintained by letting each player play first once during the game course, which aligns with the principles of player fairness.

To master Three Thirteen, it’s important not only to understand how many cards you receive per round but also how this affects your strategy throughout the game’s progression. For instance, early rounds with fewer cards make speedy discarding viable, whereas later rounds require careful consideration regarding which combinations to pursue, considering wildcards’ changing roles across rounds.

Moreover, being aware of dealers’ roles and responsibilities can provide insights into intricate game mechanics like timing your discard or knowing when to draw from a pile versus drawing unseen from the stock deck, etc., giving you incremental advantages over less informed opponents, thereby making this seemingly simple game quite engrossingly complex!

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  • 3 – 13 Gameplay: Making Melds

Meld Formation is integral to winning Three Thirteen and requires an astute understanding of Card Placement and Picking Pairs. A meld consists of a set or sequence of 3 or more cards of the same rank or consecutive ranks from any suit, respectively.

The wild card can substitute for any other in making up a meld, but be careful as its penalty points are calculated based on what they represent, ranging from three (when threes are wild) to ten (for Kings). Strategically creating your hand with these sequences or sets reduces your overall penalty point count.

The action thickens with Discarding Cards, a critical component since every turn ends with one card being discarded into the discard pile. Keep an eye on your opponents’ discarded cards; they might inadvertently help you build your Strategic Melds! Also, remember that playing off another player’s existing meld isn’t allowed, so focus solely on creating your own combinations.

There’s no limit to how many different Meld Varieties you can make within your hand while remembering that each round has an increasing number of cards dealt. Sequence Building adds depth and excitement to this game, emphasizing the Importance of Melds beyond just reducing penalty points—they also bring closer victory.

Build longer runs or larger sets using wild cards strategically—yes, even if it means keeping higher-value cards when kings become wild—to maximize their potential use across multiple rounds.

Also Read: What Are Suits in Playing Cards

  • 3 – 13 Wild Cards Explained

Wild cards are the joker in the deck; their significance lies in their adaptable nature. They can take on any role needed by players to form melds or sequences. This unique feature not only introduces game alterations but also provides strategic flexibility during gameplay.

The changing wild card from round to round necessitates frequent rule modifications and encourages players to adapt their strategies constantly.

Wild card usage is critical in the Three Thirteen Card Game due to its impact on the pace and outcome of each round. A well-placed wild card can turn an unpromising hand into a winning one, speeding up your progress toward going out with fewer penalty points. However, it’s important for players to strike a balance between seizing immediate opportunities provided by wild cards and preserving them for potential future needs. Their effects stretch beyond just forming melds—they act as catalysts that dictate the rhythm and tempo of each round.

  • How Wild Cards Work?

The concept of “Wild Cards” in a card game adds an exciting and unpredictable element to each round, allowing players to strategically substitute certain cards with wild cards, thus increasing the strategic depth and excitement of the game. In this particular game, there is a unique wild card for each of the 11 rounds, and these wild cards are determined by the number of cards dealt in that round. Here’s a detailed explanation of how the Wild Cards work:

In each of the 11 rounds of this game, a specific rank of cards becomes wild. This means that you can use a wild card to represent any other card when forming groups or sequences during that round. You even have the option to create a set comprised entirely of wild cards if you choose to do so.

Also Read: How to Play Spades Card Game?

Round-by-Round Explanation:

  • In the first round, Threes are wild. This means that any 3 can be used as a substitute for any other card in your hand to form valid combinations or sets.
  • In the second round, Fours are wild. Now, any 4 can serve as a wildcard, allowing for greater flexibility in creating valid card combinations.
  • For the third round, Fives are wild. This rule continues the pattern, offering players the ability to use 5s as wild cards during this round.
  • In the fourth round, Sixes are wild. This enables players to utilize 6s as wild cards for more strategic gameplay.
  • During the fifth round, Sevens are wild. This adds another layer of unpredictability, as Sevens can now substitute for other cards.
  • Eights are wild in the sixth round, expanding the range of cards that can be used as wild cards and potentially changing the dynamics of the game.
  • In round seven, Nines become wild cards, allowing for even more versatile combinations and strategies.
  • The eighth round designates Tens as wild cards, offering a new set of possibilities for players.
  • For the ninth round, the Jacks are wild. This introduces another level of strategy and variation.
  • In the tenth round, Queens become wild, further mixing up the dynamics and requiring players to adapt their strategies.
  • Finally, in the eleventh and last round, Kings are wild, completing the cycle of wild cards. This adds a final layer of excitement and variety to the game.

Strategic Depth

The presence of wild cards in each round makes the game more engaging, as players must adapt their strategies to the changing wild card ranks. It also introduces an element of surprise and skill, as players need to decide when and how to use wild cards to their advantage.

Three Thirteen Variations

The beauty of Three Thirteen lies in its adaptability, with countless Alternate Versions and Rule Modifications available worldwide. Some Unique Variations introduce new elements, such as additional wild cards or modified scoring systems, making each game a fresh experience. Cultural Adaptations, which reflect regional differences in playing card games, add further spice.

Below is a list of variations that one should know:

  • Jokers as Wild Cards

Some rule variations introduce Jokers as additional wild cards in the game. When Jokers are in play, if a Joker card remains in a player’s hand at the conclusion of a round, it counts as 20 points.

  • Ace Value Variations

Aces may carry different point values, such as 13, 15, or 20 points. This adjustment can significantly impact the strategy of the game.

  • High or Low Aces

Some versions of the game allow players to use Aces as high or low cards in a sequence. In this scenario, if an Ace remains in your hand at the end of a round, it costs you 15 points rather than the standard one point.

  • Reduced Scoring for Face Cards

Jacks, Queens, and Kings may score only 10 points each instead of their typical values, which can influence the value of face cards in your hand.

  • Extra Rounds with Special Wild Cards

An extra round, often referred to as the twelfth or thirteenth round, is introduced in some variations of this card game. During these additional rounds, 14 and 15 cards are dealt for each player, and Aces and 2s become wild cards, giving rise to variations known as “Fourteens” and “Fifteens.”

  • Jokers as Discards and Zero Points

Some Three Thirteen versions allow players to discard Jokers onto any pile of any other player, and these discarded Jokers count for no points.

  • Ascending and Descending Rounds

In another variation of the game, players engage in 22 rounds, starting from 3 to 13 and then descending back from 13 to 3. This adds an intriguing twist to the traditional game structure.

  • Discard Pile Choice for Players

Each player places their discard card in front of them, and other players have the choice to pick from various discard piles. This rule accelerates the game’s pace.

  • Redemption Round

Games featuring a “Redemption round” allow players to make one last play after a player goes out. They can lay down any melds on their own table or deadwood cards on other players’ tables. Going out in the redemption round results in 0 points.

  • Double Points Rounds

Points are doubled on specific rounds, typically the 11th (Jacks), 12th (Queens), and 13th (Kings) rounds. This intensifies competition and strategic planning during these rounds.

  • Sets Comprising Only Wild Cards

Players are permitted to form sets consisting entirely of wild cards. This rule adds a unique dimension to the game, allowing for creative and unconventional combinations.

  • Penalties for Incorrect Going Out

If a player goes out incorrectly, they may face a penalty of +20 points, which discourages premature finishes and emphasizes the importance of following the game’s rules correctly.

  •  Double-Naughts Rule

If all players go out with zero points on a given hand, the hand is replayed as if it never happened, introducing an element of risk and strategy.

  • Fixed Negative Scores for First Player

Some Three Thirteen variations introduce a fixed negative score for the first player to go out each round. Common point values include -5, -10, or a negative value equal to the wild card (e.g., -8 points if the 8 card is wild).

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Three Thirteen Scoring System

The crux of Three Thirteen rests on Negative Scoring and Score-reduction tactics. Each card in a player’s hand at the end of a round contributes to their overall penalty points unless it has been used in a meld, with values ranging from 1 point (for an Ace) up to 10 points (for Kings).

Wild cards are exceptions; if they remain unmelded by the game’s conclusion, they carry a hefty price tag of 15 penalty points each. The artful practice of managing one’s score involves myriad strategies designed to minimize risk and maximize benefits:

Reducing Penalty Points

  • Aim for low-numbered cards when picking from the deck or discard pile, as these contribute fewer penalty points.
  • Utilize wildcards wisely! Although they can be invaluable tools for creating melds, remember their high value if left unmelded.

Maximizing Bonus Points

  • “Going out”, i.e., being the first to get rid of all your cards in any given round, affords you bonus points – specifically, subtracting ten from your score.
  • Exploit rounds where lower-value cards are designated as wild since these offer opportunities for substantial score reduction without risking large penalties.

Finally, there is no one-size-fits-all method of scorekeeping in Three Thirteen – different groups may prefer different methods. Some might favor traditional pen-and-paper record keeping, while others may opt for digital solutions like mobile apps or online platforms.

Regardless of your preferred Scorekeeping Method, maintaining an accurate tally is crucial not just for determining who wins but also for informing players’ ongoing decisions about which cards to keep and which to shed throughout each round. Bear in mind that, unlike most games where the aim is attaining a High Score, success here hinges on finessing your way to the lowest Player’s Score possible.

How to Win the Three Thirteen Game

The suspense heightens, and hearts race as players vie for the ultimate victory; the thrill of achieving the lowest score in this strategic dance of melds, wild cards, and calculated risks.

Understanding game dynamics is critical to attaining a favorable endgame scenario. Players must learn when to hold on to high-point cards that can be potentially used in valuable sets or sequences and when to discard them to minimize their penalty points.

The player psychology involved requires skillful bluffing and reading opponents’ actions to determine their potential moves. Victorious strategies are often influenced by understanding competitive tactics within each round’s unique context – which card is currently ‘wild’, how many cards each player has been dealt with, what discards have already been made, etc.

Game-turning plays will frequently hinge on these factors: seizing an opportunity to use a wild card productively could radically shift one’s position from trailing behind to leading the pack; discerning patterns in another player’s discards could provide crucial insights into their hand composition, thus guiding decisions about your own approach.

Triumph predictors aren’t simply limited to who has the fewest penalty points at any given time but extend beyond that—they include gauging other players’ reactions, interpreting their strategy shifts over rounds, assessing their risk-taking propensities, and so forth.

Winning conditions are not solely determined by numerical scores alone but also shaped significantly by such psychological subtleties embedded within gameplay interactions. Therefore, mastering Three Thirteen isn’t just about managing numbers efficiently; it equally involves adeptly navigating the rich tapestry of human behaviors woven into its intricate framework!

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3 – 13 Game Strategy Tips

  • Bluffing techniques are crucial in a game like Three Thirteen, where you have to keep your intentions hidden while making others reveal their strategies. A shrewd player will know when to bluff about going out or holding onto wild cards to confuse opponents.
  • Additionally, Strategic Discarding plays a vital role as it involves getting rid of high penalty point cards that don’t fit into potential melds early on in each round.
  • In relation to Meld Optimization, it’s wise to aim for runs rather than sets due to the fluid nature of wild cards throughout the rounds of play. Focusing on building consecutive numbers within a suit allows you more flexibility with what can be considered “wild.”
  • Predicting Moves comes next: Pay attention! Keep track of which cards are being picked up from the discard pile by opponents because it gives away information about possible melds they may have in hand or are trying to build.
  • Moreover, your Round Strategy should involve aggressive play during earlier rounds when fewer cards mean lower risk, then shift towards defensive play in later rounds when higher card counts increase penalty points if left unmelded at end-of-round scoring.
  • Reading Opponents is essential, too. Observe their reactions upon drawing certain cards—do they seem pleased or upset? This could hint towards what they hold or need. Lastly, Card Counting provides a great advantage, especially in late rounds. Knowing what remains in the draw deck helps estimate the odds of obtaining needed cards.
  • Remember, Three Thirteen is not just about the luck of the draw but also how skillfully you can exploit that luck. Therefore, understanding these strategic insights could significantly improve your gameplay and chances of winning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Three Thirteen be played with more than four players?

Yes, Three Thirteen can be played with more than four players. However, you’ll need to add an additional deck of cards for every two extra players. This is done to ensure there are enough cards for fair card distribution during each round. Remember, though, that adding more players might change the game dynamics and winning probabilities due to increased player interaction.

Are there wild cards in Three Thirteen?

Yes, Jokers and deuces (2s) serve as wild cards, allowing players to use them strategically.

Can a player “go out” in the middle of the 3 – 13 game?

Yes, a player can “go out” by melding all their cards, signaling the end of the round. The last discard must be part of a valid set or run.

What happens in the 3-13 final round?

In the final round of three thirteen, once a player reaches the agreed-upon point goal, every other player gets one more turn to improve their hands.

How is the winner determined in three thirteen?

The player with the lowest score at the end of the final round is declared the winner of three thirteen. If a player reaches the point goal exactly, they win instantly.


Three Thirteen is a card game that offers a unique mix of strategy and chance, which ensures endless entertainment for players. As you move through the 11 thrilling rounds, your understanding of meld-making and wild cards deepens, which intensifies the intrigue of the game. To master Three Thirteen, you need more than just knowledge of the rules; it demands strategic planning and quick thinking. Therefore, whether you are a seasoned player or new to the game, remember that practice coupled with clever strategy is key to winning this exhilarating card game.

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