Gin Rummy Rules and Objectives

By Robert Power

To begin with, two players are dealt ten cards each, with the remaining 32 cards placed face down, forming the 'stock pile'. To begin the game, the top card is turned upwards and removed to become the first card on the 'discard pile'. Players take turns to pick a card from either pile, discarding one from their hand in the process.

The players' aim is to complete their hand of cards, by sorting their hands into 'melds' or 'sets' of cards, comprising of three or more cards of the same value or a straight of the same suit. For example, three jacks would form a set, and so too would the ace, two, three and four of clubs.

The end of the game is signalled by a 'knock' from one of the players. A player is able to knock once the value of his 'deadwood' cards is ten or less, where 'deadwood' refers to the cards that are not used in the player's sets. Points are calculated using the face value of the cards, with an Ace being one point and 10, jack, queen and king all worth ten points each. A score of zero, i.e. having no deadwood cards, is called a 'Gin', and is the ideal outcome for the player.

Once someone has knocked to end the game, both players are obliged to show their cards, and the player with the lowest value of deadwood cards wins the hand. If the player who totalled the lowest score was not the player who knocked, then they are said to have 'undercut' their opponent.

Gin Rummy Formats

There are three main ways to play gin rummy - first-to-knock, matchplay and moneyplay. First-to-knock is extremely simple, in that the first player who reduces their deadwood cards to ten points or less can knock and win the game, as well as the money at stake. This is the fastest version of gin rummy, and relies far more on luck than the other two versions, although it can be an excellent introduction to the game itself.

Matchplay requires several hands of cards, and adopts a scoring system in order to determine the winner. Points are calculated as the difference between the winner's deadwood points and the loser's deadwood points, with the scores accumulated each hand until one of the players reaches an agreed number of points, usually 50. Bonuses of 25 points are awarded for winning with a zero-deadwood hand, as well as winning by undercutting your opponent. The winner takes the money staked at the beginning of the game, but no more.

Moneyplay is the most popular offline form of the game, and is generally played to 100 points, using the same scoring system as above. The difference is that the money is paid per point difference, opening up the possibility for some big wins. When a player reaches 100 points, they are awarded an extra 100 point 'target' bonus and a 25 point 'line bonus'. The winning player then takes the value of the difference in the points.

For example, say player A is leading player B by 90 to 84. The next hand is won by player A, with the total of his deadwood cards being 5, with player B registering 15. Player A takes the 10 point difference, which moves his score on to 100, meaning that he has won the game. Player A is then awarded the 100 point target bonus and 25 point line bonus, taking the difference in scores to 225 - 84 = 141. If the players have agreed to play $1 per point, then Player A receives $141, provided this amount doesn't exceed the buy-in, which is also agreed prior to the game.

About the Author: Robert Power is a gin rummy and skill gaming fanatic. Want to find out more about the rules of gin rummy? You can learn more at

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