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Gin Rummy Rules

Gin Rummy Rules

In terms of the overall history and age of card games, Gin Rummy is a youngster, relatively speaking. Devised in the early 1900’s by New Yorker, Elwood Baker – which he called “Coon-Can” – Gin Rummy is actually a variation of the card game of Rummy, which is thought to have been derived from the Mexican game of Conquian in the early 1900’s or perhaps from card game variations of the ancient Mah-Jongg.

Gin Rummy is actually the most popular version of the other Rummy variations, and is played throughout the world to this day. Marked by drawing cards and discarding, Gin Rummy has become one of the most popular card games in the world due to its simple form, yet complex playing structure, thus making it a formidable game for strategists, casino gamblers and poker players. It’s structure also has made Gin Rummy a prime candidate for software programs, much like those use for online casino games.

The Gin Rummy Association has done an excellent job preserving the game and developing a universal set of rules, which are implemented during their World Series of Gin Rummy. Although it hasn’t found its way to the online casinos just yet, Gin Rummy can be easily found on the Web. The game can be played for real money at most skill gaming sites, where a competitive crowd of gamblers is sure to be found. And although you won’t find Gin Rummy tables at a land-based casino, you can surely find Gin Rummy tournaments there. Again, the Gin Rummy Association is an excellent resource for finding tournaments both on and off the Web.

The Objective of Gin Rummy:

The objective of each player in a game of Gin Rummy is to shape ones ten-card hand in a way that allows all ten cards to be combined into sequences/runs (three or more suited cards in consecutive order) or groups/sets (three or four cards of equal rank), with all remaining unmatched cards being of the lowest point value possible. Depending on how many unmatched cards are left, what their point value is and whether or not a player goes gin, the scores of players will vary from game to game. Going by the scoring system, the game is over when one player obtains a cumulative score of 100 points, followed by the disbursement of bonuses (more on that later). The point ranking system is similar blackjack except that Aces are only worth 1 point. All numbered cards are worth their numeric value and all face cards are worth ten points each.

Dealing the Cards:

A two-player game begins by first randomly choosing a dealer. After each round, the dealer will rotate back and forth from player to player. Ten cards are dealt face down to each player, with the twenty-first card being dealt face-up to designate the discard pile. The remainder of the deck is placed next to the discard pile and will serve as the stock for drawing cards.

Drawing and Discarding:

The player who is not the dealer gets to act first. They have the choice of either drawing the upturned card in the discard pile, or a facedown card from the stock pile. After drawing one or the other, the player must then discard to complete their turn. If the player had drawn the upturned card, they must discard another card. They can, however exchange the drawn discard on another turn. If the player does not want to draw the upturned card, the dealer has the option of doing so. If the dealer opts to take the card, he will proceed by discarding another card as just explained, and the other player will have their turn.

If the dealer also declines the first upturned card, the other player draws a card from the stock pile and discards a single card; Yet, in this case, it can be any card from their hand, including the unexposed card just drawn from the stock pile. After the player discards, the dealer will then act in the same manner – choosing over a card from the stock pile or discarded pile.

This process of drawing and discarding is repeated until either the stock pile is diminished down to two cards and either player cannot go gin or knock (The only possible exception for play to go on in this case is when the player draws the third to last card, discards (back to three cards again) and the other player can use the new discard to go gin or knock. If not, the hand is cancelled (no points are awarded) and the same dealer shuffles and deals the cards over again.

Going Gin and Knocking:

So, what is “Going Gin” and “Knocking” you ask? Well, knocking is the act of ending play on one’s turn, which is carried out by exposing one’s entire hand immediately after discarding. A player can only knock if they are holding a cumulative value of unmatched cards no greater than ten points. All cards are then arranged according to their appropriate runs and set, while the point value of unmatched cards (called deadwood) are added up – Again, this is not to exceed ten points. At no stage in a game is a player obligated to knock, thus making it a very strategic move. Going Gin is when a player knocks, but with no unmatched cards. Doing so has great point incentives for the player who hits it (as you will soon see in the scoring system below). However, holding out to go gin can backfire if the other player knocks first with a better hand.

When one player knocks, the other player must also expose their cards and best arrange them into runs and sets. At this stage, the player who did not knock is permitted to use their unmatched cards to form extended sets and runs in the knocker’s hand. Called laying off cards, this can be done by adding a fourth card of equal rank to a set of three matched ranking cards or adding suited/sequential cards to the ends of sequences already formed by the knocker. If the knocker goes gin, then the opponent is not permitted to lay off cards in this fashion. The knocker is never permitted to lay off cards on their opponents runs or sets. When no more cards, if any, can be laid off, the hands are accorded their appropriate points.

The Scoring System:

A player who goes gin is awarded a bonus of twenty points, plus their opponents point value in unmatched cards. If the knocker did not go gin, the player with the lower point value in unmatched cards is awarded the difference in points. If the player who does not knock, has an equal or lower point total – meaning they have undercut the knocker – in addition to a difference in points, they are awarded a ten point bonus.

More deals follow until one player reaches a cumulative score of at least 100 points, at which time this player will receive a bonus of 100 more points. If the other player did not score any points at all throughout the entire game, a bonus of 200 points is awarded to the winning player. Winning hands are awarded twenty points each – called the line bonus – but only after one player hits 100 points. After all scores have been calculated and settled, the losing player must pay out the winner corresponding to their differences in total points.


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