Gin Rummy Rules And How To Play

Gin Rummy was created with the intention of being faster than basic Rummy. The rules are very easy to learn as it is simply a matter of the draw and discard, without the complications attached to displaying melds and laying off cards between turns. Both of these things are done at the end of a hand and Gin Rummy is often played without any kind of laying off making for a "quick fire" game. These rules were originally written to facilitate offline play but often also apply to the game of Gin Rummy that is played online.

Gin Rummy is an immensely popular card game owing to the high skill component of the game when compared to other casino card games such as Poker or Blackjack. You play Gin Rummy with ten cards which are to be formed into melds (runs and/or sets) as shown in the three example fully melded gin hands on the left hand side.


Players & Deck - Gin Rummy is primarily a two player game although in other variations in the rules of this card game, up to four players can play. A deck of 52 cards is used, there are no wild cards and each player takes turns dealing the cards.

The Deal - Whoever is dealing the cards deals each player 10 cards. The next card from the deck is turned face up which indicates that it is the start of the discard pile. The rest of the deck is positioned face down and is called the stock pile.

Number of players Number of cards dealt
2 Players 10 cards each
3+ Players 10 cards each


Object of the Game

The purpose of the game is to complete a hand consisting of most or all of the cards formed into Sets and/or Runs. A Run (sequence) is comprised of three or more cards bearing the same suit and in consecutive order such as for example:

Example of a Valid Run Example of an Invalid Run


A Set, on the other hand, is a group of three or four cards that are identical rank and of different suits, such as for example:

Example of a Valid Set Example of an Invalid Set


A card can be used only once ? either in a Set or in a Run. You cannot use the same card for both a Run and a Set.

How Gin Rummy is Played

It is important to note how to play Gin Rummy by the turn of a player. The two main elements observed during a single turn are the draw and the discard:

Drawing (Compulsory) - The first player must take just one card either from the discard pile or the stock pile and add this card to the 10 cards that comprise his hand. The discard pile is face up so the other player will know what card he took. If that player chooses to take from the stock, his opponent will not see the card (since cards on the stock pile are face down).

After he has taken one card, he must now study his cards and decide which one is the card he needs least of all - a card that is probably not in sequence with the rest or is the only one of its kind making it nearly impossible to form either a set or run. The next step is:

Discarding (Compulsory) - He must then take this card out of his collection and put it on the discard pile, face up.

Note that according to official Gin Rummy rules the players draw in a special way during the first round. The person who did not deal out the cards has the first choice. He can take the face up card from the discard pile if he wants to. If not, the other player can take it and if the other player does not want it either, the person who did not deal gets the first chance to draw the top card from the stock pile.

How and When To Knock

The Gin Rummy game ends as soon as one player has formed their cards into melds (Sets or Runs) and lays them all down on the table or in a designated meld area on the table for his opponent to see followed by him or her discarding their last card to signal victory. According to the official Gin Rummy rules a player may only Knock if they have 10 points or less of deadwood (ie unmatched or unmelded cards). For example, he can knock if his deadwood is    as the total value of those cards is 8 points ie less than 10 points.

When the player goes out in this manner, it is called Knocking - a traditional symbolic gesture to announce victory to an opponent. Today, it is customary to throw the final card on the table (traditionally face down) to signal victory. The other player must now expose his cards, placing his melds on the table.

He is also allowed to take any of his deadwood (unmelded cards) to add to the sets or runs laid down by the knocker. For example, he might add a fourth card of the same rank to a group of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit to either end of a sequence. This is known as "laying off" - see next section.

How Does Laying Off Come InTO Play

Unlike many other Rummy card games, where cards can be laid off during a players' turn to extend melds which are placed on the table by yourself or other players, in Gin Rummy the players only reveal their hand at the end of the game. Therefore, it is only at the end of a game that a player can lay off cards by extending the sets or runs of the knocker and thereby reducing the deadwood count of cards left in the hand. Also note that the knocker himself is never allowed to lay off cards in this way.

How and When To Go "Gin"

Knocking is not compulsory. Therefore, if the player manages to meld all his cards and has a zero deadwood count (ie no unmelded cards remaining), then instead of knocking he declares Gin (known as 'Going Gin') and earns a 25 point bonus in addition to the deadwood count of his opponent. In this situation because the winner went "Gin", there is no laying off so the other player cannot try to further reduce his deadwood count. This is the big incentive to hold out and try to meld everything contained in your hand.

What Happens When The Stock Pile Finishes?

The game ends if there are only two cards left on the stock pile and the player who took the third to the last card on the pile discards a card without knocking. In this situation, there is no winner and another round can begin.

Important Notes On Scoring The Game

Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) score 10 points. Aces score 1 point. All the rest of the deck score the rank as the value (ie the pip value). For example, a would be worth six points, a is worth seven points, etc.

Cards Value Example 1 Example 2
Aces 1 point  is worth 1 point  is worth 1 point
Faces 10 points  is worth 10 points  is worth 10 points
Others Pip value  is worth 5 points  is worth 7 points


Aces are low and the cards rank in this order: A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K. Note that because the ace is always low in Gin Rummy,    is a valid sequence but    is not and nor is   .

Knock Scoring - Each player will have to tally up the value of their unmatched or deadwood cards. If the knocker has a lower count, he scores the difference between the two counts (each of their deadwood counts).

Undercut Scoring - If the knocker does not go Gin, and his deadwood tally is equal to or higher than his opponent, this means the knocker has been "undercut?. His opponent scores the difference between the two counts and receives a bonus of 25 points.

Gin Scoring - A player who goes Gin scores a bonus 25 points, plus the opponent's deadwood count, if any. A player who goes Gin can never be undercut. Even if the other player has no deadwood, the player who goes Gin gets the bonus and the other player gets nothing.

Game Bonus - Players keep dealing the cards for subsequent hands until one reaches a score of 100 or other designated (pre agreed) target score. The first one to reach a score of 100 points receives a "game bonus" of 100 points.

Line Bonus - In addition, each player earns a 20 point bonus for every hand won. This is known as the line bonus or a box bonus. These are not counted towards the 100 points required to win a game of Gin Rummy.

Note that for the online game, it is not absolutely essential to read the next two sections, which are designed to explain scoring for offline play and variations on the standard rules which may be introduced into the game offline.

How To Use a Score Sheet

You can see from the example score sheet (below, left) that the points from each hand are added to the previous score so that a cumulative total is always shown. We have a "Score Sheet Guide" (below, right) to help you understand how to keep score, to see how scores and bonuses are applied and to see how scoring is recorded for each round. We have pencilled onto the score sheet after certain scores to help you identify what each item represents. In the example below, you can see that A reaches 115 points bringing his total to over 100 points and therefore A wins the game and scores a 100 point game bonus. A won 6 hands (2 by way of undercut) and scores a line bonus (6 x 20) of 120 points. B won 3 hands and scores a line bonus (3 x 20) of 60 points. The score of B (131) is then deducted from the score of A (335) bringing A's final score to 204 points.

Score Sheet
Player A Player B
15 12
27 61
31 71 (Total)
115 (Total)  
100 (Game)  
120 (Line) 60 (Line)
335 (A Score)
- 131 (B Score)
Score Sheet Guide
Hand Hand Activity Scoring
Hand 1
A knocks with 6
B has 21 deadwood
A scores 15
Hand 2
A knocks with 2
B has 14 deadwood
A scores 12 and now has 27
Hand 3
B knocks with 5
A has 17 deadwood
B scores 12
Hand 4
B goes gin
A has 24 deadwood
B scores 24 plus 25 (gin) and now has 61
Hand 5
A knocks with 3
B has 7 deadwood
A scores 4 and now has 31
Hand 6
B knocks with 6
A has 4 deadwood
A scores 2 plus 25 (undercut), has 58
Hand 7
A goes gin
B has 5 deadwood
A scores 5 plus 25 (gin), now has 88
Hand 8
B knocks with 1
A has 11 deadwood
B scores 10 and now has 71
Hand 9
B knocks with 5
A has 3 deadwood
A scores 2, plus 25 for undercut, has 115*
*This brings A's score over 100 and the game ends.
A now scores the game bonus ( 100 pts) and 6 line bonuses of 20 points each ( 120 pts) to total335. B's final score ( 131 pts) is deducted from this leaving A with a final winning score of 204 points.
Jin Rummy Score SheetHand 9

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