» Gin Rummy

Any of the Rummy variants tend to be popular, but among the most well-known and popular is Gin Rummy. This is a two-person game that requires a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The suit rank for a game of Gin Rummy is aces low and kings high.

How to Play Gin Rummy

To begin the game, the dealer hands out ten cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed in the middle of the table and a single card is turned face up alongside it.

After the dealing is done, the players must organize their cards. The object of the game is to build a hand of cards in which all can be combined into “melds”. There are two kinds of melds in Gin Rummy: runs and sets.

What are Runs?

Runs are sequences of three or more cards all in the same suit and in order. For example, the red hearts in numbers eight through queen. A set is a group of three or four cards in the same rank. For instance, the seven of hearts, diamonds and spades.

The player can use one card in a single combination at any given time. For example, a seven of hearts in a run of red hearts numbered six through ten, could not also belong to a set of sevens.

To play, the player must do two things during their turn. They must draw either from the deck or the discard pile. Then the player must select a card they don’t believe will enter into a run or set and lay this in the discard pile.

The Goal of Gin Rummy

The goal of the game is to be holding as many complete sets and runs as possible. When a player has determined that they have no chance of building any more in their hand they can end the play. This is done by discarding one final card into the discard pile, but this must be face down. The player then lays down their entire hand and arranges it into the various runs and sets. This is called “knocking”.

The arrangement of the knocker’s cards reveals what is known as the “deadwood” in the hand, which are the cards that do not belong to any melds. If the hand has absolutely no deadwood, it is referred to as “going gin” and will provide the player with 20 bonus points.

The opponent must also lay out their cards into sets and runs, and if the knocker did not go gin, their opponent is allowed to lay off their deadwood anywhere they might fit into the knocker’s melds. This keeps them from receiving penalty points. If, however, the other player did go gin, the layoff is not allowed.

Scoring in Gin Rummy

Scoring is done by adding up the points of the deadwood cards. The values are as follows:

  • All face cards = 10 points
  • Ace = 1 point
  • Numeric cards = face value

If the knocker has a lower final count they get the difference between the two counts in points. If the scores are equal or the knocker’s is higher, their opponent gets the points difference and a ten point bonus. The game ends when one player reaches 100 points. This is a great game for teaching kids math problems or see our list of  card games for children.

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