How to play 3 – 14, a family card game. Rules are different than the original 3 -13 game. A variation of rummy. A great competitive game for holiday get-togethers. Sure to be a family favorite.

How to Play 3 - 14: A Family Card Game

How to Play 3 – 14

Three – 14 is a great game to play with family or friends during the holidays. Our family calls it “3 – 13,” but I’m calling it “3 – 14” because we play differently than the rules I’ve found for the traditional 3 – 13 game. And each player has a chance to receive between 3 and 14 cards from the dealer each round. Makes sense, right? 🙂

It’s a variation of rummy, so it’s easy to learn and not overly strategic. In other words, it doesn’t require you to strain your brain, but it can get really competitive. And that’s part of the fun.

This card game is great to play with a larger group of people (4-8 people). But it can be played with as little as 2 people.

Setting Up the Game

Grab some yummy card-playing snacks (Chex Mix and white chocolate popcorn are our favorites!), two decks of playing cards (more if you have 8+ people), a piece of paper to record scores, and a pen.

Remove all twos and all jokers from both decks.

Assign someone to be the scorekeeper. But keep an eye on them. Our scorekeepers tend to cheat. Hah!

The Objective

The first player to reach 500 points wins. Players can go negative (we’ll get to scoring below!). We joke that if a player reaches -500 points on the dot, they automatically win. But really, you don’t want to be negative.

There is no set number of rounds! So it can be a quick game or a really long game. 🙂

Rules for the Dealer

The dealer shall deal the first card to each player face up. And continues to deal (face down) the number of cards equal to the card each player was dealt. Dealing all cards to one player before moving on to the next player.

Example 1: If you receive a 3 — the dealer should deal you two extra cards giving you a total of 3 cards to play during the round.

Example 2: If you receive a King — the dealer should deal you 12 extra cards giving you a total of 13 cards.

Example 3: If you receive an Ace — the dealer should deal you 13 extra cards giving you a total of 14 cards.

After dealing, the dealer sets the remaining cards in the middle of the table as the “draw pile” and turns over a card next to it as the “discard pile.” With each discard, players need to make sure all discard cards are visible. (Fan the cards out with each discard.)

At the start of each round, the dealer role moves one person to the left.

Rules of Each Turn

The player to the left of the dealer starts. On each turn, players must either 1) draw from the discard pile or 2) take a new card from the draw pile. But you must take a card!

You can only lay down sets (or add-ons to sets) during your turn.

You must discard at the end of your turn. Always. (Especially important when “going out” which is when one player gets rid of all the cards in their hand.)

Each player has the opportunity to play at least once each round. Meaning even if a player “goes-out” before other players have had a chance to play, they still complete their turn.

The Goal of Each Round

Collect Sets – Lay Down at Least 1 Set – Get Rid of Remaining Cards in Hand – “Go Out”

Once you collect at least one set you are able to “lay down.” This means you can place the set(s) on the table in front of you – face up. (A set is at least three of the same card (all 3s or all Kings); the type of suit doesn’t matter.)

Once you “lay down,” you now want to get rid of the remaining cards in your hand. You can do this by 1) collecting and laying down new sets, 2) laying like cards on your own sets, or 3) playing like cards on other player’s sets. However, keep the cards and lay them down by your sets (you’ll include the points in your score for the round).

The ultimate goal of each round is to “go-out” meaning you get rid of all of the cards in your hand, and all the cards on the table count as positive points to your score.

A Little Twist

If a player has two of the same card in their hand, which are also the same as a card in the discard pile — the player can take the pile down to that card.

Why would you do this? The pile may have several sets in it you can use to boost your points for that round. Some players will even discard Aces  (the highest valued card in the game) for fear they will get stuck with negative points at the end. But you can make a substantial gain by taking the pile.

Be careful though! Any extra cards you have to pick up (to take the cards you want) may count against you if you’re not able to get rid of them.


All cards in your hand at the end of each round count negatively towards your score. All cards you lay down count positively towards your score.

Again, you want to make it to 500 points. So you want to minimize the cards left in your hand and maximize the number of cards you lay down on the table.

  • 3 – 9: 5 points
  • 10: 10 points
  • Jack, Queen, King: 10 points
  • Ace: 25 points

Example 1:  You weren’t able to collect any sets and have (1) ten, (1) Jack, and (1) 6 in your hand, your score for the round is -25.

Example 2: You lay down 4 Aces with no cards left in your hand, your score for the round is 100.

Example 3: You lay down (3) threes with an Ace left in your hand, your score for the round is -10.

Download a blank sample score sheet here: Score sheet

Tips & Tricks

If you’re dealt a 3 (meaning you only have 3 cards to play during a certain round) you have a few opportunities to improve your position. 1) Collect a set as soon as you can and lay down, “sticking” other players with low or even negative hands OR 2) use the twist mentioned above to “buy” more cards in the discard pile.

If you have a set in your hand, you can take a risk by laying one card from that set in the discard pile with the hopes of “buying” that card back + every card on top of it at a later point in the game.

End of the Game

Continue to play rounds until someone reaches 500 points.

There you have it! A super easy game to learn. But really fun to play, especially on the days you’re stuck indoors due to the weather.

Please stop by and say hi in the comments.  What are your favorite games to play during the holidays? Have you played this game before? If so, what do you call it?

How to Play 3 – 14: A Family Card Game

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  1. Can only the top card be picked up if you can play it on any pile which you have already laid down. ?
    Can any 2 like cards be picked up if you have one in your hand?

    1. Northern Yum says:

      Hi! To lay on cards already laid down – you can choose 1) the top card in the pile, 2) the top card played in the discard pile, or 3) a card in your hand. And part two of your question – you can only pick up multiple cards in the discard pile if you have two like cards in your hand. (and you take all of the cards on top of the card you take) I hope this helps!

  2. What a wonderful article! It’s helpful to read your post right now. I appreciate you sharing this educational one.

  3. Thuyen Ngoc says:

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information! It’s quite an interesting topic. Waiting for your next excellent update.

  4. Such a great piece information! One must probably refer to this article to know how to play rummy 🙂

    1. Northern Yum says:

      Yes, one version of rummy! Thanks for stopping.

  5. This sounds like a great game as the attention span for my wife & I (when it comes to games) is about an hour. We play rummy & golf several times per year. I will need to tell my family about this game.

    1. Northern Yum says:

      Yes it would be great for you both — unless you get caught in a never ending game 🙂 Haha. We used to play golf all the time, I may need to teach my daughter how to play this year. Merry Christmas!

  6. This game looks like so much fun. I’m always looking for new card games to play with the family so we will definitely be trying this over the Christmas weekend. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Northern Yum says:

      It is a lot of fun! Let me know how it goes if you’re able to try it out. 🙂 And when you say over Christmas weekend, it feels like it should still be weeks away. But it’s only a few days! How crazy.

      Thanks for reading!

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