How the Game is Played

Gin Rummy is played by two people with the standard 52-card pack. The cards in each suit rank from the king (the highest) down to the ace (the lowest). Each face card counts as 10, each ace counts as one, and the other cards are their stated values.

Each player receives 10 cards in the deal. The top card of the stock is turned up and placed beside the stock. This is the upcard. The non-dealer begins play by taking the first upcard or refusing it; if the non-dealer refuses the upcard, the option of taking it or refusing it passes to the dealer.

The object of all this taking and discarding is to form your hand into matched sets (three or four cards of the same rank) or sequences (three or more cards in sequence in the same suit).

After drawing, and before discarding, a player may knock if his or her unmatched cards count 10 or less. The player who knocks lays down 10 cards, arranged in sets and with the unmatched cards segregated, then discards the eleventh card. If all 10 cards are matched, the player’s count is zero, and he or she is said to go gin.

The example opponent has 18 points left: two 4s and two 5s add up to 18 points. Together with the 25 points you get for going gin, you score 43 points.

The opponent of the player who knocked may lay off any of his or her unmatched cards that fit on the knocker’s matched sets, thereby reducing his or her own count of unmatched cards.

An example of the hand and the layoff phase is shown below. In this case, Player 1 calls for a knock.

Before the lay-off phase, Player 1 clearly wins via score, but player 2 can lay off their J♥ and 7♥ to the first meld in Player 1’s hand. The updated scores are:

Note: If neither player has knocked by the time the 50th card has been drawn (and the following discard made), there is no score for either player for that particular deal.

It can be observed that Player 2 now has less deadwood than Player 1. Hence, Player 2 has successfully undercut Player 1. Thus, Player 2 is awarded the difference of 4 points, along with the bonus of 10 points, getting a sum of 14 points this round.

Strategy & Tips
  • The basis of Gin Rummy’s strategy is knowing when to knock. Ideally, a low Deadwood value is a good indicator that it is time to knock.
  • Carefully consider discards. Sequences are easier to complete than sets, so do not hesitate to break sets during discards.
  • Each card can only be used for 1 meld.
  • Consider drawing from the discard pile. With the discard pile, you know for certain the card you will get, as opposed to the unknown draw pile.
  • Count cards, since the standard deck does not have duplicates, you can make more informed decisions.
  • Be careful when knocking. If your hand has simple sets to extend, the opposing player can lay off their cards.