Card Games

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Play Gin Rummy

Gin rummy is a two-person card game which it reached its popularity peak during World War II. It was a big thing back then, it even became a national fad and Hollywood players and movie stars were its biggest patronizers.

This game may have been around for ages, but it still continues to appeal to the current generation. If you want to start learning how to play Gin rummy, this beginner’s guide is perfect for you.

Dealing with Cards

This game is best played with only two players. If there’s a third person that wants to join in, appoint him as a dealer without dealing himself any cards. Then you can have the position at a rotation so that everyone gets to be the dealer and the player. Use a 52-card deck and exclude any Jokers. Remember that in this game, an ace is worth one point while queens, jacks and kings are worth ten points each.

To determine the dealer, both players should draw a card, face-down from the top of the deck. Whoever has the lower card value is the dealer. In the following rounds, the dealer would automatically be the loser of the previous round. The dealer then distributes ten cards to each player in a clockwise manner around the table. Or if you only have two players, you can just alternate back and forth until both of the players have ten cards.

Place the remaining cards left after dealing in a pile face-down on the table. The dealer draws one card from this stock pile and place it face-up next to the stock pile.

Playing the Game

Sort the ten cards in your hand into any possible “melds”. Three or four cards of the same rank is called as set while three or more cards of consecutive rank in the same suit is a run. An example of a set is 10 of spades, 10 of diamonds and 10 of clubs. An example of a run is king of diamonds, queen of diamonds and jack of diamonds.

If you are not the dealer, you need to make a choice whether to take the card in the discard pile or to pass on it. The dealer can choose to pick it up should you decide to pass.  Pick up your new card whether from the top of the stock pile or for the card in the discard pile. Then decide if this card helps you form any melds.

Discard a card that probably won’t be of any help and place it face-up in the discard pile. You can also discard whatever you just picked up from the stock pile. You should still have ten cards at the end of every turn.

Take turns picking up cards and discarding cards and attempt to form melds with all your cards. At each turn, decide if you want to take the mystery card from the top of the stock pile or if you want the card that your opponent just placed face-up in the discard pile.

End the game when there are only two stock cards remaining.


Each player counts the total value of their unmatched cards. If the knocker’s count is lower, the knocker scores the difference between the two counts.

The knocker has been undercut if the knocker’s count is greater than that of the opponent or if the knocker did not go gin and the counts are equal. In this case, the opponent of the knocker scores the difference between the counts plus a 10 point bonus.

A bonus of 20 points plus the opponent’s count in unmatched cards (if any) is awarded to the player who goes gin. You can never undercut a player who goes gin. Even if the other player does not have any unmatched cards at all, the player person going gin gets the 20 point bonus while the other player scores nothing.

The game continues with further deals until one player has reached a cumulative score of 100 points or more. Additional bonus of 100 points is then given to this player. If the loser did not score at all during the game, then instead of 100, a 200 bonus points are rewarded to the winner.

In addition, 20 points is added to each player for each hand they won. This is called the box bonus or line bonus. These additional points though can’t be counted towards the 100 points needed to win the game.

After the bonuses have been added, the player with the lower score pays the player with the higher score an amount proportional to the difference between their scores.

Strategies to Win

  1. Keep track of the discarded cards

Memorize cards that you and your opponent have discarded. By doing so, you know exactly what cards to avoid collecting. For example, if two kings have ended up in the discard pile, then there’s no point in holding on to any kings in your hand since these will certainly become deadwood.

  1. Memorize the cards that were picked up by your opponent

If you want to know if your opponent is into their runs and sets, you simply have to take note which cards they picked up from the discard pile. Hold on to your 9 if you see him picking up a couple 9’s. You certainly don’t want to risk helping them out.

  1. Prioritize runs over sets

Runs can be added onto at either end of the sequence. However, once you already have three of a kind, you can only add sets in one way. You are more likely to find two possible cards that can add to your run than one extra card for a set.

  1. Knock as early as possible

You can’t knock until your deadwood is down to 10 or fewer points so it might be a good idea to knock as soon as you reach that threshold. If you wait too long in the hopes that you’ll reach gin, you’re risking that your opponent could reach it first.

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