Gin rummy is a variation of rummy, the card game, created for two players. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been conquering players from all parts of the world thanks to simple rules, socialization, and a chance to play anywhere. Gin rummy only takes a deck of cards and two players and is often enjoyed by youth and elderly people. What can be a better pastime than to gather with your friends or family, chat, and feel a bit of the adrenaline rush?
If you are still not familiar with this fun game, continue reading our guide. We will tell you everything about its history, game rules, and winning tips.
History of Gin Rummy and Its Popularity
While many card games have a rather blurry history, there’s no secret in how gin rummy emerged. It was invented by Elwood Baker and his son, Graham, in 1909. Researchers believe that the game evolved from whisky poker and aimed to be faster than a regular rummy variation. Bakers’ creation still remains one of the most popular card games in the United States and is also known across Europe and a few other countries.
There’s even a Gin Rummy Association that runs tournaments in Las Vegas. To participate, you need to fill in the information on their website and arrive on time. There are no association fees or previous skills required. On the association’s website players can also learn how to play gin rummy, get familiar with tournament winners, and find out lots of interesting facts about the game.
Main Information about Gin Rummy
|📌 Game Type||Card game|
|📌 Players||2 to 4|
|📌 Deck||Standard 52-card|
|📌 Creators||Elwood T. Baker and his son C. Graham Baker|
|📌 Objective||Reaching 100 points by forming melds and getting rid of all cards|
|📌 Variations||Straight Gin, Oklahoma Gin, Hollywood Gin|
How to play Gin Rummy?
The objective of Gin Rummy is to be the first player to reach 100 points by forming melds (sets or runs) and getting rid of all the cards in your hand. It is a fun and fast-paced game that can be played with two to four players.
- Deal 10 cards to each player;
- Take turns drawing and discarding cards until one player has formed melds and can go out;
- Score points for all melded cards and add 25 points for going out first;
- Continue playing until one player reaches 100 points to win the game!
Classic Gin Rummy Rules
Even though this card game doesn’t require a specific skill set, you should still master its rules before sitting at a table. Read our step-by-step guide and grasp the basics of gin rummy in no time.
It is played with a deck of 52 cards but the jokers are not used. We recommend using two decks: when one player deals, another one shuffles. Thus, the game speeds up. The cards order goes from highest to lowest: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and Ace. Cards with figures earn 10 points and others are worth their depicted values. The gin rummy’s goal is rather straightforward: you should collect more than 100 points before the opponent. To do so, you need to form a certain combination on one or several hands.
- Decide how many people are playing. Gin rummy is a game for two, so if there’s a third person, they can be a dealer. If there are four players, it’s better to form teams or play two games separately.
- Define a dealer by drawing a card. The person with a lower card value is a dealer.
- Every player is given ten cards. Deal them clockwise and face down.
- Leave the remaining cards on the table. The remaining cards are also called the stock pile. Take one card from the top of the pile and place it face-up. This card is the first in the discard pile.
- Merge your card into combinations. A set consists of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank. For example, four 10’s. A run is 3 or 4 consecutive cards of the same suit. For example, 6,7, and 8.
- Decide whether to take the face-up card. If you are not the dealer, you can choose whether the discarded card is useful or not. If yes, take it. If you pass, the dealer can pick it as well.
- Take a new card from the stock pile. Look at your hand attentively to see whether it helps to form a new combination or extend an existing one.
- Drop a card you don’t need. You shouldn’t keep cards that don’t match with the rest. However, there are a few game rules to remember: you need to have 10 cards in total and the card taken from the discard pile should be kept for one turn or longer.
- Take turns. Draw the cards with another player trying to collect a winning combination. You can decide whether to take a new card from the stock pile or the one that was discarded by the opponent. Keep the melds private.
- The game ends when there are two stock cards left. If you or another player takes the second or last card from the pile, the game is canceled and the cards have to be dealt again.
- If your cards form combinations, knock. When all the cards in your hand form a winning combination and there are no unmatched (deadwood) cards, it means that you are reaching the gin. To end the game, draw a card on your turn and put it face-down. You additionally get 25 points for the gin and the points for opponent’s unmatched cards.
- Knock earlier not to let the opponent reach the gin. If you think that another player is about to end the game, knock before them. Knocking is possible only if the total number of deadwood points is less than 10.
- Show the melds. Lay the cards face-up into groups and leave a bit of space between the melds for greater clarity.
- The deadwood cards are placed in the knocker’s meld. If the opponent wants to get rid of a deadwood card and sees that it forms a combination on the knocker’s hand, they can do it. But the cards can’t be laid onto other deadwood.
- Subtract the deadwood game scores from the opponent. Then write down the results of each of the players.
- Award extra points for the undercut. Undercut takes place if the non-knocker has fewer deadwood points than the knocker. The difference in points is then given to the opponent.
The game is played in rounds until one of the opponents exceeds 100 points.
Why you can’t play gin rummy games at online casinos
If you are a fan of gin rummy and prefer online gambling, you might be disappointed to know that it is almost impossible to find at Internet casinos. The reason is simple: this game doesn’t have a house edge, so gambling sites won’t make any profits out of it. Plus, it has a long play rate and slow speed is not what online casinos prefer. To make up for it, operators have to charge a higher rake and none of the players would love that. Who needs to pay extra money if there’s a chance to play the game at home without any mediators?
However, some online casinos host gin rummy tournaments as a way to attract new players and make money. On average, the rake equals 10-15% and these sums don’t earn brands significant money. They host the promotion solely to get more players and introduce them to the best online casino games, regular bonuses, and other events. If you want to play this game on the Internet, it is better to search for free platforms and apps created by enthusiastic developers.
Gin rummy tips from our editor
If you want to win in the gin rummy game, make sure to master a few simple but effective tips. Here are several recommendations from our experts:
- Follow the discard pile. You might get lots of valuable insights from the way the second player behaves with the discard gin rummy pile. For example, they won’t draw if it doesn’t complete a meld. If a high card is switched later in the game, it means that the player is about to knock or gin.
- Be the first to knock. If there are less than 15 cards in the pile, it’s a good idea to knock before the opponent. Knocking earlier and more frequently helps to outscore other players.
- Middle cards – more options. 5,6, and 7 cards should become the foundation of your hand. They can give lots of options for the melds and won’t cost too much if you are caught out.
- Keep high pairs for the first turns when playing with beginners. The basic gin rummy strategy is to drop high pairs from the very beginning. If you play with a person who follows this strategy, leave the high pairs for 3-4 turns.
- Higher value cards should be discarded in the first turn. The point is to build a hand for knocking and score points. We recommend dropping face cards if you are expecting a faster knock.
| Player | Hand | Draw Pile |
| Player 1 | AC, AD, AH | |
| Player 2 | QC, QD, QS | |
| Discard pile: JH |
The top card of the draw pile is turned over to start the discard pile. This card is called the upcard.
Players take turns either drawing a card from the draw pile or picking up the top card from the discard pile. The goal is to form melds (sets or runs) with your hand and lay them down on the table to get rid of all your cards.
A set is three or four cards of equal rank, such as 3H, 3D, and 3C. A run is three or more cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit, such as 5H, 6H, and 7H.
Once a player has formed their melds, they can lay them down on the table to score points. In addition to forming melds, players can also add cards to already existing melds on the table.
After laying down their melds, players must discard one card from their hand onto the discard pile. The game continues until a player has no cards left in their hand or until there are no more cards to draw from the draw pile.
At the end of each round, players add up the value of all the cards they have melded. Face cards are worth 10 points, aces are worth 1 point, and all other cards are worth their numerical value. The player who goes out first (gets rid of all their cards) scores an additional 25 points.
If the losing player has not laid down any melds or only has deadwood (cards that do not fit into any meld), they receive a score penalty of 25 points plus the total value of their deadwood. The game continues until one player reaches 100 points.
Variations of Gin Rummy
There are many variations of Gin Rummy that have been developed over the years, each with slightly different game rules and scoring systems. Some popular variations include:
- Straight Gin: A variation where players must have all cards in their hand as part of a meld before going out.
- Oklahoma Gin: A variation that allows players to knock and end the round even if they have deadwood in their hand.
- Hollywood Gin: A variation where only the top card of the discard pile can be picked up, rather than any card in it.
No matter which version of Gin Rummy you play, the basic rules and objective remain the same. It is a game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels, making it a timeless classic in the world of card games.
Gin rummy is a very popular game that is enjoyed not only in the US but beyond. The game rules are easy to master and you don’t need any specific equipment or much money. Plus, the game can be enjoyed by two without the need to gather a large crowd. Unfortunately, you can’t enjoy the game online because it doesn’t have the house edge and is not attractive for online casinos. But from time to time they launch tournaments to attract gambling lovers.
We hope that our guide was simple and informative, and now you can invite a friend and play this game together!