Gin rummy card game rules – how to play gin rummy

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor

Discover the Exciting World of Gin Rummy Card Game

I’m here to introduce you to the fascinating and exhilarating world of Gin Rummy! Get ready for an adventure that will challenge your skills, test your strategy, and bring you hours of entertainment. Let me guide you through the rules of this incredible card game.

The Objective

In Gin Rummy, the goal is to form sets or runs of cards and get rid of your unmatched cards. The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, and the value of each card is determined by its rank. The objective is to score more points than your opponent by creating valid combinations.

Starting the Game

To start the game, each player is dealt ten cards. The remaining cards are placed facedown to form the stock pile, with the top card turned face up to start the discard pile. The non-dealer plays first, and the game continues in a clockwise direction.

Creating Sets and Runs

To score points in Gin Rummy, you need to form sets or runs. A set consists of three or four cards of the same rank, like three Jacks or four Nines. A run, on the other hand, is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, like the 5, 6, and 7 of hearts.

Knocking and Going Gin

Once you have formed sets or runs, you have the option to knock or go gin. When you knock, you are declaring that you have formed all your sets or runs and are ready to end the round. Going gin means that you have formed all your cards into sets or runs without any unmatched cards left.

Scoring Points

At the end of the round, the player who knocks or goes gin scores points based on the value of the unmatched cards in their opponent’s hand. Face cards are worth 10 points each, and numbered cards are worth their face value. Aces can be either high or low and are worth either 1 or 11 points.


Now that you understand the rules of Gin Rummy, it’s time to gather your friends or family and embark on this thrilling card game journey. Prepare to strategize, challenge your opponents, and aim for victory. Are you ready to become a Gin Rummy master? Let the adventure begin!

When you think of Gin Rummy, what comes to mind? Maybe two elderly individuals sitting in a park, engaged in a card game? Or maybe it brings up memories of your favorite gin-filled cocktail. Well, believe it or not, Gin Rummy is not a drinking game! It’s actually a twist on the popular card game Rummy, dating back to the 20th century, and it has become a staple for game nights.

Now, whether you’re a seasoned card game enthusiast or a complete newcomer, we’re here to walk you through all the ins and outs of Gin Rummy rules. Before you know it, you’ll be “knocking” and “undercutting” like a pro!


Alright, let’s get this party started! But before we do, we need to make sure we have everything we need. First up, grab a deck of cards with no jokers. You’ll want a standard deck with 52 cards. Now, it’s best to play with just two players. But hey, if you’ve got a big group, you can form teams and make it a real showdown. If you’ve got three people, one of them can be the dealer. And don’t worry, the dealer role will switch to a different player after each hand.

Now, let’s talk about the values of the cards. In this game, Aces are low and have a value of 1. The face cards – jacks, queens, and kings – all have a value of 10.

So, How Do We Deal?

Gin rummy card game rules - how to play gin rummy

To start playing Gin Rummy, first, we need to choose a dealer. It’s easy! Each of us will draw a card from the deck, and the person with the lowest card becomes the dealer. In the following rounds, the person who lost the previous round will deal the next hand.

Now that we have a dealer, the dealer will deal ten cards to each player, facing them down. The rest of the cards will be placed between us, facing down, to create the stock deck. The top card from the stock deck will be turned over and placed next to it. This card will serve as the discard pile.

Ready to Play Gin Rummy

Now that everything is set up and we have our cards, we can begin playing!

In Gin Rummy, just like in other Rummy games, the main objective is to get the most points. You can do this by forming “melds,” which can be either “runs” or “sets.” These melds will determine how many points you score at the end of each round. The first player to reach 100 points becomes the winner.

A run consists of three or more cards that are in consecutive order and belong to the same suit. For example, you can have a run of five, six, and seven of diamonds.

On the other hand, a set is made up of three or more cards that have the same rank. For instance, you can have a set of three Aces.

Gin rummy card game rules - how to play gin rummy

Imagine you’re the dealer for the first round. The other player, who isn’t dealing, starts the game by taking the card on top of the discard pile. They have to decide if that card will be useful for them to create a meld, or if they’d rather leave it and pass. If they pass, you, as the dealer, can choose to take that same card. If you also decide to pass, then the other player can start the game by taking the first card from the stock deck.

When I pick up a stock card, I have to decide if I want to keep it to help my melds. If I do, I keep the new card and discard another from my hand. At the end of every turn, I have to discard one card. But I can’t just pick up a card and immediately discard it. I have to get rid of one of my own cards and keep the new one for at least one turn. This way, I always have 10 cards in my hand at the end of each turn.

Once the game starts, we take turns either drawing a mystery card from the stock deck or taking the face-up card from the discard pile. Then we have to discard one of our own cards and the game continues. Remember, the goal is to create sets and runs to score the most points.


When you play Gin Rummy, scoring comes into play at the end of each round. It all depends on the difference between the deadwood of the players (more on deadwood below). Here’s how the cards are valued:

Kings, Queens, and Jacks: worth 10 points each.

Cards 2 to 10: their face value is their point value.

Ace: worth 1 point.

In Gin Rummy, points are scored after each hand or round. Let’s take a look at the different ways you can earn points:

Going Gin: If you manage to have no deadwood and use all your cards, you score 25 points plus your opponent’s deadwood.

Knocking: The difference between your deadwood and your opponent’s deadwood is your score.

Undercutting: If your opponent hasn’t knocked yet but you have a lower deadwood than theirs, you score 25 points plus the difference in deadwood.

So here’s the deal: we play this game until someone reaches 100 points. Once that happens, guess what? They get an extra 100 bonus points! Pretty sweet, right? But wait, there’s more! After that, we can go back and see how many rounds each of us won. For each round you win, you get another 25 points. Now, if one player doesn’t win any rounds at all, well, that’s called a shutout, and the winner gets an extra 100 points for that. Talk about a big score!

Now, it’s time to find out who’s the big winner. We add up all the points from the rounds, the bonus points, and everything else. The player with the most points at the end, they’re the champion. Congrats!


Here’s something cool about this game: there’s more than one way to go out. You can either go out the traditional way, which they call going Gin, or you can do it by knocking. It’s totally up to you!


Hey there! Did you know that going Gin means having all the cards in your hand melded in sets or runs? It’s pretty cool, right? But here’s the catch – you can’t have any extra cards that don’t belong to a meld. Those extras are called deadwood, by the way. So, before going Gin, make sure you pick up a card from the discard pile or the stock deck. Once you’ve got all the requirements covered, congratulations! You’ve gone Gin! And guess what? You automatically get 25 points just for that. Plus, you get to add up the points from your opponent’s uncompleted melds, which are the deadwood cards in their hand. How awesome is that?

Gin rummy card game rules - how to play gin rummy

Let me give you an example. Say you played the card game Gin and your opponent had a hand like this (three 8s, a sequence of 5, 6, 7 diamonds, and four cards: 4, 4, 2, and an ace). In this case, they would have 11 points of deadwood (4 + 4 + 2 + 1 = 11, since the ace counts as 1). These points are added to your score of 25 points, giving you a total of 36 points for winning that round. After that, the round ends and a new hand is dealt.


If you want to get rid of some of your cards in Gin Rummy, there’s another way besides going Gin. You can knock instead. But before you knock, you have to pick up a new card and discard one from your hand. To be able to knock, you can only have a total of 10 or fewer points in deadwood cards. Once you meet the requirements, you can knock by either tapping on the table or placing your next discarded card face-down on the pile. Knocking is a fun way to show that you’re ready to end the round.

When you knock, you have to reveal your hand by placing your cards face up on the table. Then, it’s your opponent’s turn to show their cards. They can choose to “lay off” some of their deadwood into your melds if they want.

Laying Off

Hey there! Let’s talk about something called “laying off.” When you create a sequence of cards, like 2, 3, 4 of diamonds, and your opponent has a 5 of diamonds, they can add their card to your sequence. This means that their card no longer counts as part of their unused cards. Only your opponent can do this, though. As the person who made the sequence, you can’t add your cards to their groups.

Here’s an important thing to remember: your opponent can’t add cards to sequences that are already completed. For example, if you have two 3s as unused cards and your opponent also has a 3, they can’t make a new sequence with those cards. And remember, when someone goes Gin, laying off cards is not allowed.

When you finish laying down your cards, it’s time to add up the score. Forget about the melded cards for now and focus on counting the deadwood in each player’s hand. Subtract your total deadwood points from your opponent’s total deadwood points. The difference is the number of points you win in that hand! Let me give you an example: if you have 4 points of deadwood and your opponent has 30 points, you’ll earn 26 points for that round (30-4=26).


If you’re the one who knocked, you need to be careful and keep your deadwood points low. If it turns out that your opponent or the other player has fewer deadwood points than you, it’s called an undercut. They will get the difference in deadwood points as well as a bonus of 25 points.

Gin rummy card game rules - how to play gin rummy

Imagine this scenario: you’re playing a game of Gin Rummy and you have 9 points in deadwood. You decide it’s time to knock, but there’s a catch. You can’t knock if your deadwood equals more than 10 points. You take a look at your opponent’s cards after laying out your own and realize they only have 3 points in deadwood. They have undercut you, which means they receive the 6 points from the deadwood (9-3=6) plus a bonus of 25 points. They end that round with a total of 31 points! It’s a tough break, but that’s how the game goes sometimes.

Now, let’s talk about the two-card rule.

This rule doesn’t come up too often, especially with more experienced players. However, for beginners, it can happen. Here’s how it works: If a player draws the third-to-last card and discards it without knocking or going Gin, and there are only 2 cards left, then the current hand is canceled. The cards are shuffled and dealt again. No one receives any points, and the same dealer continues dealing. The game goes on without any consequences from that particular hand. It’s a way to keep things fair and ensure everyone has a fair chance to win.

So here’s the thing, there are a few different variations of Gin Rummy. In one of them, after the third-to-last card is drawn and discarded, the opponent gets a chance to take it and go Gin or knock. You can actually decide which way you want to play before the game starts, so it’s pretty flexible.

How the Game Ends

The game wraps up when one of the players reaches 100 points. At that point, you add up all the points and the player with the highest score wins. Of course, if you want to play to a different score, you can agree on that before the game even begins.

Strategies for Gin Rummy

Now, when it comes to Gin Rummy strategy, there are a few tricks you can use to get better and up your game.

Memorize, Memorize, Memorize

One of the really fun things about Gin Rummy is that you get to see half of the cards face up on the discard pile. If you pay attention and keep an eye on those cards, it can actually give you an advantage later on in the game.

When playing a card game, it’s important to pay attention to the cards that are being discarded. This will give you valuable information on which cards to avoid collecting.

Let me give you an example. If you notice that two Aces have been discarded, it would be wise to get rid of any Aces in your hand. This is because it will be impossible for you to form a meld with them.

On the other hand, you can also keep an eye on what cards your opponent is picking up. By observing their choices, you can get an idea of what sets and runs they are trying to create. For instance, if you see them picking up multiple 8’s, it would be beneficial for you to hold onto any 8’s in your hand. This will prevent them from completing their melds.

Preference for Runs

So, like I said earlier, runs are when you have 3 or more cards in a row that are all from the same suit, while sets are when you have 3 or more cards of the exact same value. The thing is, completing a run is actually easier because you can complete it in either direction. Let me give you an example to make it clearer. Let’s say you have a 5 and a 6 of diamonds. It’s much simpler to find 2 different cards (like a 4 or a 7 of diamonds) to complete the run, rather than trying to find another 5 to make a set.


Now, here’s something you should keep in mind. You can’t knock if the total value of the cards you have left in your hand is more than 10. I know it might seem like waiting until you have Gin, which is when you can get rid of all your cards, is the best strategy. But sometimes it’s actually a smarter move to knock early. Let me tell you why. If you wait too long, your opponent might just get to Gin before you do!


Gin rummy is a version of the well-known card game Rummy. Over time, Rummy has developed into various forms, including Indian Rummy, Rummikub, and of course, Gin Rummy.

But how does Gin Rummy differ from traditional Rummy? Let’s discover the distinctions between these two beloved games.


Gin rummy card game rules - how to play gin rummy

When it comes to comparing classic Rummy and Gin Rummy, one of the first differences that stands out is the number of players. Classic Rummy can be played with anywhere from 2 to 6 players, while Gin Rummy allows for either 2 or 4 players. While it’s possible for 3 people to play Gin Rummy, one player will take on the role of the dealer during each hand.


There are several notable differences in the gameplay of Rummy and Gin Rummy. The overall objective of both games remains the same – to reach a certain number of points to end the game. However, the main distinction lies in how you handle your melds. In Rummy, you lay down your melds face up as soon as you have them. In contrast, Gin Rummy requires you to keep your melds hidden from your opponent until either you or they knock or go gin.

In classic Rummy, I have the option to “lay off” my cards onto other players’ melds when it’s my turn. However, in Gin Rummy, only one player can do this, and only if their opponent knocks.

The scoring system is also different between the two games. In Rummy, once I get rid of all the cards in my hand, I count up the total of the remaining cards in the other players’ hands and earn that amount. In Gin Rummy, the player with the lowest amount of deadwood scores points based on their opponent’s deadwood after each hand.

Now, let’s answer some frequently asked questions:

How Many Cards Are Dealt in Gin Rummy?

You should play Gin Rummy with a standard 52-pack of cards. Each player gets 10 cards from the dealer before starting the stock deck and the discard pile.

Can You Play Gin Rummy with 2 Players?

Yes, you can play Gin Rummy with just 2 players.

When it comes to playing Gin Rummy, it’s best to have two players – one as the dealer and the other as the player. After each hand, the roles switch between the two players. If there are three people, you can take turns being the dealer for each player, and if there are four, you can form teams.

Is Gin Rummy an Easy Game?

Gin rummy is actually a pretty easy game to learn. Once you understand the basics, you can start picking up strategies to help you score more points!

As a freelance writer who has been traveling the world since 2016, I’ve come to believe that card and board games are an incredible way to connect with others. Don’t believe me? Try bringing a deck of cards to a bar!

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