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How To Play Gin Rummy
Gin Rummy is a card game which combines simplicity of form with a surprising complexity of play. The rules can be mastered in a very short time, but the game itself will continue to challenge you again and again. The game has also adapted well to computer software and online play, further enhancing its popularity. It is easily the most popular form of rummy and is generally meant to be played by two players.
History of the Game
Gin Rummy (often known simply as Gin) was created in 1909 by Elwood T. Baker of Brooklyn, N.Y. Based on the popularity of rum and gin, the game enjoyed a resurgence in 1927-30, then dipped in popularity until the 1940s. During this time, it was adopted by members of the motion picture and radio industry, and it became the principal fad of the time. Since then, Gin Rummy has maintained a strong following and given birth to numerous offshoots and variations.
Rules of the Game
Gin Rummy is played using a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Aces count as the low cards (they are not wild), with the value increasing in order from ace through king.
To determine who will deal first, cut the deck. The low card deals. After that, players rotate acting as the dealer from hand to hand.
The dealer shuffles the cards and then deals 10 cards to his opponent and himself. A card is then placed face-up in the middle of the table and becomes the discard pile. The remainder of the deck is placed face-down next to the discard pile and now becomes the stock.
The non-dealing player has the option to take the upcard and play first. If he or she chooses not to, then the dealer plays first.
On each turn, players have several options. They include:
1. Drawing the top card from the discard pile or from the stock.
2. Under certain conditions, the player may "knock" and end the round. (More on this in a minute)
3. Discards one card onto the discard pile.
Play continues until one player chooses to knock, or until only two cards remain in the stock.
The overall objective of the game is to form "melds" and eliminate "deadwood."
Melds can be one of two types:
1. Sets of 3 or 4 cards which share the same rank (four 10s, three 8s, etc.).
2. Runs of 3 or more cards of the same suit (5-6-7-8 of clubs or 8-9-10-J of hearts).
Deadwood cards are any cards which are not contained in a meld. Your Deadwood Count is the total value of all the deadwood cards in your hand. They are scored as follows:
Ace = 1 point
In order to keep their deadwood total low, players will want to make as many melds as possible. They may also discard high cards and replace them with lower ones. This way, if the card cannot be worked into a meld, it will count less against the player.
In standard Gin Rummy, a player may not "knock" until he has less than 10 points of deadwood in his hand. If the player has 0 points of deadwood, then he or she must knock. A player with 0 deadwood is also known to be "Going Gin."
The knocking player lays his hand out and shows his melds. He separates the deadwood, and the other player now has two options. He may:
1. Form melds from his own hand.
2. "Lay Off" cards from his hand onto the knocking player's melds, assuming that they fit. This cannot be done if the opponent has Gone Gin.
There are two ways to score Gin Rummy. The first is called 20/25 and the second is known as 10/20. 20/25 is the most common, while 10/20 is the more traditional of the two.
In the 10/20 system, a player who has gone gin scores 20 points, plus the deadwood count of the opposing player. If the knocking player has not gone gin and the defending player has an equal or lower deadwood count, then he has undercut the knocker and scores 10 points, plus the margin by which his deadwood count was lower. If the knocking player is not undercut, he scores points according to the margin by which his deadwood count was lower.
The 20/25 system works the same as the 10/20 system, except that the gin bonus is worth 25 points instead of 20. Also, the bonus for undercutting is 20 points instead of 10.
In a single match, players will continue until someone has won by scoring 100 points or more. In a multi-match, it is standard to keep track of both match and game scores. Match scores reset to zero at the start of each match, but the game score continues to accumulate. Matches are still won by scoring 100 points but the overall game is won by achieving a much higher number (often 1000 points).
Strategy and Tactics
It is a good rule of thumb to not take cards from the discard pile unless that completes a set or run. Otherwise, the opponent will anticipate that you are trying to meld a certain type of card and be sure not to discard any more of those.
Middle cards are very important because they can be used in a number of sets and runs. The 7, for example, can be used in more combinations that any other card in the deck.
It is best to vary the values of the cards you play to the discard pile. If you discard numerous face cards, for example, your opponent will begin to gather face cards in anticipation of creating melds based partially off of your discards. Varying your discards also keep your opponent guessing as to what cards you are trying to save.
If you are eligible to "knock," you should usually go ahead and do so as soon as possible. In the middle of the game, the decision will probably hinge on how many cards (which have not yet been seen by the player) could give the opponent a gin on the next draw.
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