Gin Rummy - How to Play

Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy is one of the many forms of games that fall under the Rummy card game umbrella. Rummy is a classic game that comes in many versions, all with one major theme in common, of improving one’s hand by forming melds and by discarding cards, also known as getting rid of the deadwood.

Gin Rummy is a game played with a deck of 52 cards, between two players, as opposed to some forms of rummy which can be played with more than two players. Gin Rummy is a combination of gin poker and regular Rummy which emerged as its own right in the early 1900's. The 1930's was the heyday period for Gin Rummy when it was ‘discovered’ by Hollywood and became THE game of stars and star-wannabees. Actors were often seen playing Gin Rummy during movies, which helped spread the game’s popularity even further.

As with many card games, the online casino revolution firmly established Gin Rummy’s presence in the gaming world. Gin Rummy was easily transformed into a popular online casino game due to its quick-play nature, and the fact that it is played only between two people. The winning process in Gin Rummy is easy to determine, which makes it even more popular for newer online casino players.

Click for details on history of Gin Rummy.


Gin Rummy uses a standard deck of 52 cards, which are ranked in suit from lowest to highest. The lowest card is the Ace and the highest card is the King. The face cards – Jack, Queen and King – have the point value of ten, while the Ace has a value of one. The rest of the cards have the value of their number.


The dealer is selected in a random manner and alternates between the two players. The dealer hands out ten cards to each player, one at a time. Once all ten cards have been dealt, the next card is turned face up, which indicates the beginning of the discard pile. The rest of the cards are placed face down, next to the discard pile, and become known as the stock. Players are given a few moments to examine their cards and arrange them.

Aim of the Game

The aim of Gin Rummy is for a player to arrange as many cards of his cards in his hand to form sets and runs, while ensuring that the cards not formed into a set are of a low number.

A run, also known as a sequence, comprises of three or more cards in the same suit, in a consecutive order. Example 4H, 5H, 6H or 9S, 10S, 11S.

A set is a group of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank. Example 6 Hearts, 6 Diamonds, 6 Spades, 6 Clubs.

Each set or run has to comprise of its own cards, in other words, one card in a hand cannot belong to more than one set or run.

Start of Play

A player starts by making a draw. A draw is the action of taking the top card either from the exposed discard pile or the unexposed stock pile. The advantage of the discard pile is that a player is aware of which card he is taking, but the other player can also see. The disadvantage of the stock pile is that a player is committed to taking the card once it has been drawn, without knowing what it is. A player who draws a card from the stock pile adds it to his hand, and does not expose it to the other player.

The second part of a player’s move is the discard – a player has to discard one card from his hand once a card has been drawn. The selected card is placed on top of the discard pile, face up. A player may not take the top card from the discard pile as his draw and then put it down once again in the discard pile in the same move.

The first move is done slightly differently whereby the player who did not deal gets to decide whether or not to take the card which formed the discard pile. If this player decides against it, then the dealer has the choice of taking the card. If the dealer also does not want the upturned card, then the move reverts back to the non-dealer who takes the first card from the stock pile. The player completes his turn by discarding an unwanted card onto the discard pile.

Play continues as players try and form as many sets or runs in their hand, while keeping the non-allocated cards as low as possible.


A player can choose to end his turn by knocking. This is done if at the end of his turn, a player feels that he can form enough cards into sets and runs, while still keeping a low surplus score. Knocking is done by discarding one card face down on the discard pile and then laying the sets and runs from the rest of the cards. Any cards left in the hand that are not part of the sets and runs are called deadwood, which must total ten or less.

A player who manages to knock while using all the cards in his hand is known as ‘going gin’ and is awarded extra bonus points.

At any time that a player can end his turn without having deadwood of more than ten points, he is allowed to, even on the first hand. A player, however, is not forced to do so and may continue playing in the hope of getting an even better hand – lower scoring deadwood or none at all.

Once a player has knocked, the opponent has the opportunity to spread out his cards and arrange them into his own sets and runs. If the player did not go gin, then the opponent is also allowed to lay off any of his deadwood onto the player’s formed sets and runs. An example of this is adding a fourth card to a set or adding a card to the start or end of a run. The player who knocked, however, is not allowed to lay off any of his deadwood onto the opponent’s sets or runs.

Another way that the game ends, is if the stock pile consists only of two cards and the player who took the third from last card discards without knocking. If this occurs, the entire hand is cancelled and no scores are awarded. The original dealer shuffles the cards and deals once again.

Scoring in Gin Rummy

  • At the end of the game, both players count the total of their deadwood. If the player who knocked receives a lower count, then he scores the difference between the two counts.
  • If the knocker did not manage to go gin, and the deadwood counts are equal, or the knocker’s count was more than the other player’s count, then it is known as the knocker being undercut. When this happens, the opponent will score the difference between the two counts and will be awarded a ten point bonus.
  • A player who goes gin is awarded a 20 point bonus plus the opponent’s deadwood count. Players who go gin are never undercut, even if the other player has no deadwood.
  • More hands are dealt and the round ends when one player’s total score is 100 points or more. This player is then awarded an extra 100 points. If the opponent has not managed to score any points during all the games, then the player is awarded a 200 point bonus, instead of 100.
  • Players who win a hand are awarded an additional 20 points per hand – also known as the line or box bonus. These twenty points, however, are not counted as part of the 100 points needed to win the game.
  • After all the bonuses have been calculated, then the winner pays the loser an amount which equals the difference between the two scores.


Gin Rummy is an exciting and fast paced game between two players which combines elements of both luck and skill. The simple scoring and the uncomplicated manner of play has made it very popular over the years, especially during the 1930's.

These days Gin Rummy has been reintroduced to the masses in the online version. Many online casinos have begun offering Gin Rummy as part of their card game selection and, as expected, a lot of interest is shown in the game. Gin Rummy is a great game for players who wish to try out an online casino, but do not want to get their heads into more complicated card games such as poker and blackjack. The simple playing process of Gin Rummy, along with the fact that it is only between two people, has turned it into one of the most up and coming card games on the internet.

Posted by CCJ Team

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