How to Play Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy, a member of the Rummy group of card games is the most popular and widely played member of all the games in this group. The game is played with a standard 52 card deck. The game is normally played by two players. Jokers and other wild cards are not used in the standard Gin Rummy game.

The cards rank from King high down to Ace low (K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A). The value of the cards (for totaling of unmatched cards at the end of the hand, see below) is as follows: All court cards (King, Queen and Jack) are 10 points each, Ace counts as one and the remaining cards count as their marked value.

The object of the game is to be the first player to score 100 or more points through the course of several hands. This is done by attempting to make matching sets in your hand by forming valid sets and runs of cards, thus obtaining a lower count of non-matched cards (called deadwood) in your hand than your opponent.

The two types of valid groups or melds of cards a player can make in their hands are as follows:

The dealer of the first hand can be determined in various ways, with cutting for high card being a common method. Thereafter, the winner of each hand deals the next.

At the start of each hand, each player is dealt 10 cards face down in front of them. The first card is given to the dealers opponent, the next to the dealer, the next to the opponent, and so on alternating until each player has 10 cards. The next card in the deck is then turned face up on the table (this is called the upcard) and placed next to the remainder of the deck which is placed face down to form the stock.

After the cards are dealt and the players have examined their hands, the non-dealer has the first choice of taking the upcard. If the non-dealer chooses not to take this card, the dealer then has the opportunity to take the card. If both players decline the upcard, the non-dealer draws the top card of the stock and adds it to his hand, playing the hand as normal, including discarding at the end of his turn (see below). Thereafter, each player on their proper turn, can opt to take the top upcard or the top card of the face down stock. After selecting a card the player can then either knock or continue playing by discarding a card face-up to the top of the discard pile, which becomes the new upcard. If a player takes the upcard, they may never discard that same card on that turn.

If the stock pile is reduced down to the last two cards, neither of these cards may be drawn. If the player who draws the third to last card of the stock does not knock at the end of his turn, the hand is over, being considered a draw with no scoring being considered for that hand.

Knocking at Gin Rummy
In this example, a player has knocked with a total deadwood value of 5 in an effort to have a lower such count than his opponent.
Knocking: Any player on his normal turn of play may choose to knock. To do so, a player would first draw a card as normal and then would indicate they are knocking. A player can indicate a "knock" by actually making a knocking motion with the knuckles on the table or indicating this verbally by saying something such as "I knock". They would then discard one card from their hand face down. In order to knock a player must have a total value of unmatched cards in his hand of 10 or less after the discard. As noted above for calculating this total, court cards are worth 10 points each, Aces one and all other cards their face value.

After knocking the player who does so lays his hand face up on the table, with all his melds grouped together and his unmatched deadwood separated. Unless the knocking player has no unmatched cards, the opponent may lay off any unmatched cards in their own hand that might extend the runs and sequences of the knocking player. The knocking player, however, may not do so on his opponents melds. If the total card value of unmatched cards of the knocking player is lower than the opponent, he wins the hand and scores for himself the difference between his hand and his opponents. However, if the opponent has a lower or equal total card value, the opponent instead wins the hand and scores 25 points plus the difference in card counts. This is called an undercut.

In the event that the knocker has no unmatched cards after their discard, called Going Gin, the opponent may not lay off any of their unmatched cards on the knockers melds (although they may set aside any of their own valid melds) and the knocker wins the hand regardless of the opponents total in unmatched cards. Going gin scores 25 points for the knocker plus his opponents total count in unmatched cards remaining in their hand.

Gin Rummy Scoring

Box Score
Sample Gin Rummy score sheet
The first player to score 100 points wins the game. He also receives a 100 point game bonus added to his score. If the opponent has not won any hands during the game the winning player scores 200 instead. Each player then adds a 25 point additional bonus for each individual hand they have won through the course of the game. Each 25 points thus scored in this way is called a box or line bonus. The image to the left shows a possible sample score sheet for a game which consisted of 11 hands.

Gin Rummy Variations and Optional Rules

Oklahoma Gin with first upcard Oklahoma Gin: This version is very similar to the standard version described above, however, the value of the turned upcard determines the lowest value for which a player may knock. Thus, for instance, if the upcard were a four, a player could only knock if the total point count of unmatched cards (deadwood) in their hand was four or less. If the upcard is an Ace, a player can never knock and can can only win the hand by going Gin. If the turned upcard is any spade, all player scores accrued from that hand are doubled.

Sample Score Sheet for Hollywood Gin Rummy Hollywood Scoring: Also called Hollywood Gin Rummy, this version is played exactly as the standard version as described above. How this game differs, however, is in the method of scoring. In Hollywood scoring, a player's score for a hand may be added in multiple "games". For each player, three separate "games" are simultaneously being scored. When a player wins his first hand, he scores the points (as described in the standard game) in the first "game". When he wins his second hand, the score is totaled in the first AND second game. For the third, and subsequent hands won, the total is added to all three "games". When 100 points is reached by any player in one of the "games" he wins that game. Once a "game" is won, additional scoring is not totaled for that game by any player, but the remaining "games" should continue until those are also won by a player earning 100 points in those games as well. Each game is considered its own independent game, and any scoring bonuses for that game should be added as normal for that game. Generally, the overall winner is the player who wins two of the three "games".

Alternative Scoring: This version is identical to the standard version described above, however some of the scoring bonuses are different, as follows:
    - Gin Bonus: 20 points
    - Undercut: 10 points
    - Box Bonus: 20 points

Gin Rummy for three players: Gin Rummy can also be played by three players, using differing variants: Four Player Gin Rummy: When four players play Gin Rummy they play in two partnerships of two players, each playing a separate game against one opponent from the other partnership. The partners sit opposite each other at the table with the dealer dealing to the opponent to his right. The members of the partnership alternate opponents after each hand, but the members of the partnership remain the same for the entire game and each partnership keeps a single score for their side. After each hand, the partnership scores the difference in scores between the hand if any. Thus, if one of the partners wins a hand by 28 points and the other loses by 18, the partnership earns 10 while the other partnerships scores nothing. The partnership which ends up getting the score for that particular hand, will also earn the 25 point box bonus. Usually game is scored to 125 points. To determine partnerships, have all four players draw one card, with the two highest cards in partnership and the two lowest cards being the opposing partnership. For the first hand, the two opponents in that hand should cut for the first deal (high card cut deals first). For each subsequent hand, the winner from the last hand deals the next (which will be to the other opponents).

Eleven card hand: This version is played no differently than the standard game other than how the non-dealer begins his first turn. Instead of the usual 10 cards the non-dealer receives 11 cards. No upcard is turned from the deck. Instead, the non-dealer selects one of his cards and places it face up beside the draw pile to start the discard pile. The dealer then has his normal turn and the game proceeds as usual. This is often used in tournament play in an effort to offset any advantage or disadvantage the dealer or non-dealer may have in the game.

Around the Corner Gin Rummy:
Round the corner sequence
Continuous sequences are allowed in Around the Corner Gin
This game is played identically to the parent game, with one major exception. The Ace can be used at either the top of a sequence (i.e. Jack, Queen, King, Ace) or the bottom of a sequence (Ace, 2, 3, 4). In fact, a run of cards containing the Ace can go "Round the Corner", such as the following "Queen, King, Ace, 2, 3".

When found as part of a players deadwood and for purposes of knocking, an Ace is considered to have a point value of 15 points. A score of 125 points is required to win the game.

Doubling: In this optional rule a player, at his proper turn of play may request a "double". If the opponent agrees to the double, all point scoring for the hand is doubled. This includes all bonuses and penalties scored for this particular hand. If the opponent opts not to agree to the double he must "resign". If the opponent does resign, the game is treated as if the player who doubled had knocked on this turn. However, the doubling player gets a bonus score of 20 points added to their final score of the hand. The resigning player cannot score for an undercut, even if he does manage to have a lower deadwood count than the doubling player. When the opponent does resign, the scores for the current hand are not doubled.

Redoubling: In many games where the doubling optional rule is played, redoubling is also allowed. If a player doubles, his opponent may then call "redouble". If the redouble is accepted by the original player, all scoring for the hand is doubled again, in affect with all scores being quadrupled for the hand. If a redouble is called, the original doubling player than has the option of resigning with the same results of this as when a double is called.

Gin Only: In this version no knocking is allowed. A player still retains all his melds in his hand, but may not go out until he has Gin (at which time he states "Gin"). As in the parent game of Gin Rummy, after stating "Gin", the player discards one card and then displays his hand in the matched sets. The scoring is as in normal Gin Rummy, with this player scoring 25 points for going Gin and also the total sum of points from unmatched cards found in his opponents hand. The opponent may never lay off cards on the knockers melds, but may arrange any legal melds he currently has in his hand. First to player to win 250 points at the end of a hand wins the game.
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