According to "Hoyle's Rules of Games," gin rummy was invented during the early 1900s by Elwood T. Baker of New York. The object of the game requires you to make a series or set of cards and try to get rid of "deadwood" or the remaining cards in your hand. A game can span several rounds but ends when one player reaches 100 points.
How to Get Started Playing
- Players: Two players
- Deck: Standard 52-card deck with the king as the high card. An ace is always the low card in gin rummy. Face cards are worth 10 points each, number cards are worth their face value, and an ace is worth one point.
- Goal: Collect sets (three or four of a kind, or three or more consecutive cards of the same suit) to earn points. The game is played over several rounds.
- Setup: Choose a dealer randomly to deal the first round. Throughout the game, the winner of each round deals the next. Shuffle the deck and deal 10 cards to each player. Players then look at and sort their cards. The next card is turned face up in the middle of the table to start the discard pile. The remaining cards are placed face down next to the discard pile to form a draw pile.
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Each normal turn consists of two parts:
- First, you must take a card—either the top card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile.
- Second, you must discard a card (face up) onto the top of the discard pile.
On the very first turn of each strategic round, the non-dealer decides whether or not to take the first face-up card. If that player declines, the dealer may take the card. If one of the players takes the card, that player completes their turn by discarding and then the other player takes a turn. If both players decline to take the card, the non-dealer starts the game by drawing the top card from the draw pile.
Play continues like this until someone announces "gin" or knocks on the table.
A round instantly comes to an end when a player "knocks." This may be done on any turn (including the first turn) after drawing but before discarding. A player may knock when he has the ability to form sets, discard one card, and have 10 points or fewer remaining in his hand. Special note: A single card cannot belong to two sets.
After knocking and discarding, the player who knocked organizes and spreads all of their cards face-up on the table. The player who did not knock does the same. If the knocker did not "go gin," which means put all their cards into combinations, the opponent is also allowed to lay off any unmatched cards by adding to the knocker's sets. For example, you can add a fourth card to a group of three of a kind or add further consecutive cards of the same suit to a sequence.
Also, you are never required to knock. You may continue playing in an effort to develop a better hand.
Each player calculates the value of their unmatched cards, which is also called their "deadwood." If the knocker's count is lower, he scores the difference between the two counts.
If the knocker did not go gin, and the values are equal—or the knocker's value is greater than his opponent's—then the knocker has been undercut. The knocker's opponent scores 10 points plus the difference between the values.
If the knocker has no unmatched cards, the player has "gin" and scores 25 bonus points (some players score the bonus as 20 points). Additionally, the opponent cannot score any points, even if the opponent also has no unmatched cards.
Round Ends in a Draw
If only two cards remain in the draw pile after a player discards and neither player has knocked, the round ends in a draw and the same player deals again.
Additional rounds are played until one player's cumulative score reaches 100 points or more—that person is the winner. Other popular variations include Oklahoma gin and Hollywood gin, each with slightly different scoring rules.