What is Gin Rummy and how to play it

What could be better than gin and rum? A card game called Gin Rummy!

A game that’s as interesting as it sounds, Gin Rummy has a special place in the world of card games. 

Origins of Gin Rummy

Gin rummy’s origins have been a subject of much debate. As per some sources, gin rummy evolved from whiskey poker with the intention of being faster than standard rummy but less spontaneous than knock rummy. 

It got named gin rummy probably as a quirk, since it evolved from rummy, gin and rum both being alcoholic drinks.

Another theory suggests that being majorly a two player game, the game is akin to pairing rum and gin together. However, none of these theories have any concrete support though.

Rules of Gin Rummy

Gin rummy is unique in the sense that the jokers of the pack are not used in the game. Played with a standard deck of 52 cards, the game is best played between two players.

The order of value from high to low is as per the following order: king (K), queen (Q), jack (J), ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, deuce and ace. Each of the figure cards is valued at 10 points while all other cards are valued at their face value.

The game begins with each player getting dealt 10 cards each. All the remaining cards are placed face down in a stockpile. The cards discarded by the players during the game are added to the discard pile. 

The objective of the game is to reach a score of 100 points by forming combinations of three or more cards. This is done by forming melds and removing deadwood. A meld can either be a set of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank, or a run of 3 or more cards in sequence. Deadwood cards are all those cards that do not form a meld. 

The sum total of the deadwood cards is called the deadwood count. 

Players take turns until one of them ends the round by knocking, going Gin, or until only two cards remain in the stockpile, in which case the round ends in a draw.

Knocking and Gin

A knock happens when a player folds his cards with his unmatched cards totaling less than 10 points. When the player discards his last card, he shows all of his cards. The opponent can, at this point, discard his unmatched cards and use the unmatched cards of his opponent to improve his hand. 

Whichever player ends with the best hand after knocking, wins the partial game. 

Alternatively, a partial game can also end when one of the players manages to match all 10 of his cards in different melds. 

Scoring in gin rummy

The game ends when enough partial games have been played such that one of the players reaches a score of 100.

The player who makes a gin gets a bonus of 20 points plus the value of the opponent’s unmatched cards.

If the player who knocks wins the game, a score equal to the difference between both players’ unmatched cards gets added to his tally. If the opponent wins, a score equal to the difference between  both players’ unmatched cards plus ten points gets added to his tally.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry. All it takes is one round of the game and the rules start to feel really simple!

Gin rummy has a lot of additional ways to keep score as well as different variations of the game. Stay tuned to find out more.