Ten Step

Ten Step or Florida Rummy is a multi-player, multi-round card game. It is a variant of Rummy that adds features like buying and going out, and is probably most similar to Liverpool Rummy.

The Deck

Ten Step is played with multiple 54-card decks of playing cards (standard 52-card decks plus jokers). Typically, the game is played with one deck for every two players (i.e. 8 players use 4 decks). If there are an odd number of players, it is unclear whether the number of decks should be rounded up or rounded down, but the conservative solution is to round up (i.e. 7 players use 4 decks).

Aces are high. Deuces (2s) and jokers are wild.

Dealing and cutting

Dealership rotates from round to round. The dealer of the first round is determined by every player drawing a card from the deck. Low card usually deals.

The dealer deals an eleven-card hand to each player. After all the players’ hands have been dealt, another card (the upcard) is placed face-up in a central location known as the "discard pile" or "up pile". The remainder of the pack is placed face-down and is called the "deck" or "down pile".

Immediately prior to the deal is the "cut", which is an important charge in Ten Step. The player to the right of the dealer cuts, trying to leave the exact amount of cards to deal to each person plus one for the upcard. Mathematically the cutter wants to cut 11*(number of players) + 1 cards. For instance, if there are five players, the cutter wants to cut 11*5+1 = 56 cards. If the cut is exact, then the cutter gets 100 points subtracted from her score. A successful cut can have substantial influence on the outcome of the game.

Play

The player to the immediate left of the dealer plays first.

On each turn, players:
*may allow any player excluding themselves to "buy" the top card from the discard pile (see rules below on "buying");
*must draw either the (face-up) top card of the discard pile (provided that a player has not just bought from that pile) or one card from the deck;
*may "lay down" their completed round-appropriate collection of sets and runs (see rules below on "laying down");
*may "play off other players" who have laid down provided they have laid down themselves (see rules below on "playing off other players"); and
*must discard one card from their hand onto the discard pile. If the discard could have been "played off" either their own or another player’s laid cards, then any other player can "call rummy" (see rules below on "calling rummy"). If the next player commences play by either drawing or allowing buying then the opportunity to call rummy has passed.

Drawing a card marks the start of a player’s turn and discarding marks the end. Any laying down or playing off another’s sets or runs should be done between the draw and the discard. This is difficult for beginners to remember, so lenience is often given on this rule.

Play continues in alternating turns moving clockwise until one player "goes out".

Points are tallied and recorded by a score-keeper. All of the cards are then shuffled and the next step (round of play) commences.

If the "deck" is exhausted before a player "goes out", the up-pile is reshuffled and turned into the deck. If the deck is exhausted again, then it is likely that there are too few cards in the game. The step should be replayed with an additional set of cards added to the deck.

Laying down

The objective in Ten Step is to minimize one’s score by laying down to reduce the number of cards in hand, and eventually going out before other players. Within each round there are two types of card groupings that may be required:
*"Sets" of 3 or more cards sharing the same rank. For example, 8♥-8♣-8♠.
*"Runs" of 4 or more cards in sequence, of the same suit. For example, 3♥-4♥-5♥-6♥-7♥.

Aces always rank as high (and 2s wild), so one cannot create a run that loops around. For example, K-A-2-3 or K-A-3-4 is not allowed.

In order to lay down, a player must have completed "in toto" the number of sets and runs required for that given step. A player lays down during her turn by placing all appropriate sets and runs face-up on the playing surface.

Each step (round of play) has its own requirements for laying down. The requirements for each step are as follows:

  1. 2 Sets of 3
  2. 1 Set of 3 and 1 Run of 4
  3. 2 Runs of 4
  4. 3 Sets of 3
  5. 1 Set of 3 and 1 Run of 7
  6. 2 Sets of 3 and 1 Run of 5
  7. 3 Runs of 4
  8. 1 Set of 3 and 1 Run of 10
  9. 3 Sets of 3 and 1 Run of 5
  10. 3 Runs of 5

The number of sets and runs required for each step is exact (that is, it is an upper and lower bound), but the number of cards "within" each set or run can exceed the required amount. For example, a player in step 1 must have exactly 2 sets of at least 3 cards to lay down; additional sets cannot be laid down.

The steps are played in order. The game concludes at the end of step 10. Baker Ten Step, a variation of Ten Step, plays steps 1 through 10 and then steps 9 through 1. Baker Ten Step, then, concludes at the end of the final step 1.

Players often find it helpful to have each step written out on a note card and visible on the table for reference.

Note that the total number of cards required to lay down increases by 1 with each successive step. Steps 7, 8, 9, and 10 all require more than the eleven cards dealt to each player, so these steps require players to buy during the hand in order to lay down.

Playing Off Other Players

Once a player has laid down, she can attempt to further reduce the number of cards in her hands by "playing off" other players’ laid cards. For example, if another player has laid down a run of hearts, 4♥-5♥-6♥-7♥, and you have a 3 of hearts or an 8 of hearts (or both!) in your hand, you may play it in the run, provided that you have already laid down for the current step.

On subsequent turns a player may of course play off his own sets and runs.

Calling rummy

Once a player has laid down, her discard must not fit into any player’s laid cards. If this is violated, every other player has until the commencement of the next player’s turn to "call rummy" on the offending player, in which case every player has the option to give that player one card from their hand. Note that players are not required to give one of their cards up (in some cases all cards in hand are needed.)

It bears mention that "calling rummy" has been imported directly from Liverpool Rummy in order to discourage careless or foul play and encourage total participation. Ten Step is often successfully played without this rule.

Going Out and Floating

A player "goes out" when he successfully discards the only remaining card in hand, marking the conclusion of the step (for all players.) A player gets to this point by laying down and then playing off his and other players’ hands.

A player is "floating" if she exhausts her cards and is not able to discard. In this case, the hand continues until somebody successfully goes out. At no point in time is it acceptable to draw a card from the up pile and discard the same card during the same turn. It follows that a floater must draw an unplayable card from the deck (down-pile) in order to go out.

It is customary to knock on the table when there is only one card left in your hand. This alerts other players of your closeness to going out.

Evaluation of the hand

After a player goes out, players total their scores by counting the value of the cards remaining in their hands. Cards are valued as follows:
*Deuces & Jokers -- 20
*Aces -- 15
*Face Cards -- 10
*All other cards -- face value

Frequently cards 3 through 9 are scored as 5 points each rather than face value. This is particularly popular among the math averse. While it is fair to play the game in this manner, it appreciably changes the strategy of the game and should be applied with reservation.

The player with the lowest point total at the end of step 10 wins. Players usually work to lower their scores by laying down, playing off other players who have laid down, and, secondarily, replacing high cards (such as face cards and aces) with lower ones.

Buying

Between players’ turns (or, at the beginning of the hand, before the first player draws), other players may "buy" the top card from the up-pile by saying, “I’ll buy it.” Whoever has the next turn has the first option on the card, being able to "draw" (but not buy) it. Otherwise, any other player may buy it. The successful buyer "buys" the card by taking the desired card plus the top card from the deck. The buyer does not discard, and play resumes in the same order as before.

On steps 1 through 9, each player can buy only three times per step. On step 10, each player can buy four cards. If rummy has not been called, players can determine the number of buys they have used by subtracting eleven from the number of cards in hand and dividing by two. For example, if a player has fifteen cards in hand, he has bought (15 -11) / 2 = 2 times.

If two people want to buy a card, the card goes to the person whose turn is closest (to the left) to the present player.

The up pile is unavailable immediately after a card has been bought from it.

Strategically, players sometimes buy cards they do not need in order to have cards to discard or to confuse opponents about what they are saving.

Wild cards

Deuces (2s) and jokers are wild and can represent any card (suit and number.) Unlike Liverpool Rummy, Ten Step places no limitations on the use of wild cards.

While playing off another player (or yourself on later turns), you may replace an existing joker in a run with the card that it is standing in for, moving the joker to either the top or bottom of that same run. For example, if you have the 5 of hearts, you may place it in the following run: 4♥-Joker-6♥-7♥. You then move the joker either “above” the 7 or “below” the 4.

It is acceptable to move the joker “above” an ace or “below” a three, regardless of the length of the run. This effectively takes the displaced joker out of play. It is never acceptable to move a card (joker or otherwise) from one laid set or run to another set or run.

See also

*Rummy
*Liverpool Rummy
*Phase 10


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