How to Play Gin Rummy

Summer is coming. The season of camping, picnics, and beach visits. What better way to spend a day outdoors (or indoors) than with good company, delicious food, and awesome card games.
We recommend that you try Gin Rummy, one of the most popular card games out there. How to play Gin Rummy, you may ask?

What You'll Need to Play Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy is played with a classic 52-card deck. It's preferable to have two decks when you play. That way, one player can deal while the other shuffles the other deck. Also, you won’t need the wild cards (Jokers) in this game.

The Goal of the Game

The first player to score one hundred points wins the game, with each game consisting of many rounds.
To do that you must collect combinations of certain cards, these combinations are called “Melds.” Melds consist of three or four cards of the same number (Set) or three or more cards of consecutive numbers in the same suit (Run).

How to Play Gin Rummy

A round of Gin Rummy is made up basically of three phases. Dealing, playing, and finally tallying the score.

How to Deal

To begin the game, we must first decide which player will be the dealer. Each player can draw a card face down from the top of the deck or can draw any card at random. The player with the highest-ranking card gets first pick at being the dealer.
The ranking of the cards is as follows:
  • Picture cards (King, Queen, Jack in that order) are the highest with each worth 10 points.
  • Numbered cards are worth their number in points.
  • The ace is the lowest with 1 point to its name.
This is how you decide which player will be the dealer in the first round. Later on, the player who loses the round will be the dealer in the next, till the end of the game. So, for example, if three players wish to play Gin Rummy, one of them can take the sole role of the dealer.
The dealer provides each player with ten cards facing down, alternating each card given to either player. Then, they put the rest of the deck also facedown in the middle, and this will be called the stockpile. After that, the dealer starts the discard pile by taking the first card off the stockpile and placing it face up next to it.

Playing the Game

After dealing the cards, each player usually starts arranging their cards to find possible sets or runs and to isolate the unmatched cards.
The first person to play is the non-dealer; they have the choice of taking that first card in the discard pile. If the player decides to take this card, they must discard another card from their hand to replace it.
Usually, the discarded cards are outliers that are unlikely to form any future sets or runs. This is where strategy formulation begins. The first player can also choose to pass; in that case, the second player gets a chance to pick up that face-up card in the discard pile. If not needed, the second player can also choose to pass their turn.
Once the first player assumes his turn, they have another option to pull a new card from the stockpile in exchange for a card of their own, to be discarded face up in the discard pile. The same thing goes for the second player, who can either get a fresh card from the stockpile or pick up the card discarded by the first player.
Many rounds can be played with each player aiming to match most or all of their cards into sets or runs.

How to Score Points

You can end the round in one of two ways, “Knocking” or calling “Gin.”
You can “Knock” when the number of unmatched cards in your hand equals 10 points or less. You do that either by the physical act of knocking or by placing a drawn card facedown on the discard pile to signify that you are knocking.
Once a player knocks, they reveal their cards, arranged in melds or sets for clarity. The other player can then try to match their unmatched cards (also called deadwood cards) to the first player's cards in the form of sets or melds.
Once only the unmatched cards remain, and no other combinations can be made, we calculate the score by subtracting the sum of unmatched cards from each player.
For example, if the player who knocked has two three’s left (their tally is six) and the player who didn’t knock had a jack and a queen (their tally is twenty since each picture card is worth ten points) we subtract twenty minus six which equals fourteen, so the first player scored fourteen points in the first round.
The other way in which a round ends is if a player has no unmatched cards left in their hand, meaning all of their cards are either part of sets or melds. This is called “Gin”, hence the name Gin Rummy. If you score a Gin you gain twenty points plus the value of the deadwood cards from your opponent.
A third scenario is possible, if the first player who knocks ends up having unmatched cards with a higher score than the second player, this is called an “Undercut”. The second player gets awarded the difference in points, plus a twenty-point “Undercut” bonus.
The game continues till a player reaches a total of one hundred points.

Rules to Remember

It's not a must to knock if the value of your deadwood cards becomes ten or less. You can continue to play, either to improve your hand or go for a Gin.
Gin Rummy is a two-player game, but if you’ve got a large group of friends, you can play in teams of two and compete.
A card that was picked up must stay in your hand for at least one turn, and it can’t be discarded right away.
Each player must have a total of 10 cards at the end of each turn.
If only two cards remain in the stockpile, then that hand/round is canceled, and it must be repeated.


Gin Rummy is all about speed and secrecy. So, you must be faster than your opponent in knocking or getting a Gin, but don’t rush it and get undercut. You mustn’t let your opponent see your progress by showing your cards or your melds.