Gin Rummy Game Rules | Scoring, Strategy and More

Gin Rummy Game Rules | Scoring, Strategy and More

Gin Rummy Game Rules

Gin rummy is a card game that’s designed for two players. The goal is to put all your cards into sets or runs before your opponent. It’s like a twist on the game “Rummy.” In this game, you keep your cards hidden until it’s over. In Gin Rummy, you use a standard 52-card deck, and there’s no need for wild cards or jokers. To play gin rummy, you need to know how to shuffle and deal the cards, make sets and runs, and earn points. We’re here to help you learn all of these skills as we walk you through the Gin Rummy game rules and strategies, step by step, to help you become a pro at the game. 

The Objective Of The Game

The main goal of Gin Rummy is to create a hand where most, if not all of your cards can be grouped into sets and runs while keeping the point value of the remaining unmatched cards as low as possible.

A “run” or “sequence” is a series of three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive order. For example, you can have a run like 6♠, 7♠, 8♠ or 7♦, 8♦, 9♦, 10♦, J♦.

Also See: Rummy Sequence Rules

How are the cards dealt?

Number of Players

Gin rummy is best enjoyed with two players. If you have a third person interested, designate one as the dealer without receiving cards and rotate this role for each hand. For four players, it’s best to play two separate games or form teams and add up scores after two simultaneous games.

Deck of Cards

Use a standard 52-card deck. Remove any Jokers from the deck. Remember that aces are low (worth one point), while jacks, queens, and kings are high (each worth ten points).

Determine the Dealer

To decide the dealer, have each player draw a card from the top of the deck face-down. The player with the lower-valued card becomes the dealer. In subsequent rounds, the loser of the previous round takes on the dealer’s role.

Deal Ten Cards

The dealer should distribute ten cards to each player, placing them face-down on the table. When playing with only two players, take turns distributing until both have ten cards.

Stock and Discard Pile

The remaining cards go into a face-down pile on the table, known as the “stockpile”. The dealer draws one card from the top of the stockpile and places it face-up next to it. This card starts the discard pile.

Gin Rummy Game Rules

Gin Rummy is a card game for two players using a standard 52-card deck (without Jokers). In this game, Aces are low and worth one point, face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) are worth 10 points each, and all other cards are worth their face value (e.g., 6 of Diamonds is worth 6 points).

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  • Each player draws a card from the deck. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer for the first hand. In subsequent hands, the loser of the previous round becomes the dealer.
  • The dealer distributes 10 cards to each player alternately, face-down. The remaining cards form the stockpile, placed face-down between the players.
  • The dealer reveals the top card of the stockpile to start the discard pile.
  • Players arrange their cards into sets (cards of the same rank) and runs (consecutive cards of the same suit) in their hands.
  • The non-dealer goes first, choosing whether to take the face-up card from the discard pile. If they don’t want it, they can pass, and the dealer has the option to pick it.
  • If both players pass on the face-up card, the dealer takes the top card from the stockpile.
  • Players take turns drawing a card from either the discard pile or the stockpile with the goal of forming sets and runs in their hands.
  • It’s important not to reveal your melds (sets and runs) until the end of the round to avoid giving your opponent an advantage.
  • If the stockpile is reduced to only two cards and no player has gone Gin (i.e., formed all their cards into sets and runs), the hand ends in a draw, and no points are awarded. The cards are reshuffled, and a new hand begins.
  • The game continues with players taking turns until one player goes Gin or decides to knock, signalling the end of the hand. At that point, deadwood points are calculated, and scoring begins.

Sorting Your Cards and Gameplay

  1. Sort Your Cards: Look at the ten cards in your hand and sort them into “melds.” Melds are either “sets” or “runs.” A “set” consists of three or four cards with the same rank (like 5-5-5), while a “run” is three or more consecutive cards in the same suit (like 4-5-6). For instance, you could have a set with 9 of diamonds, 9 of spades, and 9 of hearts, or a run with jack, queen, and king of diamonds. Remember, aces are low, so they can’t be part of a run with a king.
  2. Choose from the Discard Pile: If you’re not the dealer, decide whether to pick up the face-up card in the discard pile. If you pass, the dealer can choose to take it. If both of you decline, then the non-dealer picks up the top card from the stockpile.
  3. Pick Up a New Card: Whether from the discard pile or the stock pile, pick up a new card and see if it helps you create more melds. Look for cards with the same value or those that connect to form a run.
  4. Discard Unwanted Cards: Select a card from your hand that doesn’t fit well with your melds and place it face-up in the discard pile. You can’t discard a card you just picked up from the discard pile on the same turn. Keep at least ten cards at the end of each turn.
  5. Take Turns: Alternate turns with your opponent, picking up cards and discarding them. Keep your melds hidden from your opponent as you work on them.
  6. End the Game: If only two stock cards are left and someone draws the third to last card, the hand is cancelled, and no points are awarded. The cards need to be re-dealt.

How do you score Gin Rummy? | How Scoring Works as Per Gin Rummy Game Rules?

Now that Gin Rummy game rules are clear, let’s throw some light on how scoring works. Scoring in Gin Rummy is based on two main factors: deadwood points and various bonuses. Let’s break down how it works:

Knock Points

After players have laid off their cards, the player who knocks scores the difference between their deadwood points and their opponent’s deadwood points. For example, if the knocker has 4 points of deadwood, and the opponent has 20 points of deadwood, the knocker scores 20 – 4 = 16 points.

Gin Bonus

 If a player goes Gin, which means they have no deadwood cards left, they receive an additional 25 points on top of the knock points they already earned.

Big Gin Bonus

 If a player goes Big Gin, which means they have no deadwood cards at all, not even in the initial layoff, they receive 31 extra points added to their knock points.


If a player knocks, but their opponent has less or an equal number of deadwood points, the opponent gets 25 points plus the difference in deadwood points. The knocker, in this case, gets 0 points. However, if the knocker goes Gin, there’s never an undercut, even if the opponent has 0 deadwood points.

Game Bonus

 When a player reaches a total of 100 points or more, they receive a special game bonus of 100 points added to their overall score.

Line Bonus or Box Bonus

 At the end of the game, players earn a bonus of 25 points for each hand they’ve won during the game.

Shutout Bonus

If a player wins every hand in the game, the points for each hand are doubled before adding the line bonus. However, it’s important to note that this bonus typically applies when a player wins all hands without any ties.

Strategy Tips for Winning at Gin Rummy Games

Discard Your High-Value Deadwood Cards

  • After the initial deal, you’ll have a sense of your strategy. Identify cards that don’t fit into your plans and are of high value, like face cards or Aces.
  • Consider swapping out these high-value cards for lower ones, reducing your deadwood points.

Prioritize Flexible Card Combinations

  • Keep card combinations that can work in multiple ways, such as a potential set and a run.
  • For example, holding onto K-K-Q offers more possibilities for melds compared to just holding two Kings and two 9s.

Don’t Rely on a Single Card

  • Avoid relying on a single card to complete a meld. Try to keep at least two potential cards for a meld, reducing your dependence on a specific draw.

Observe Your Opponent’s Discards

  • Pay attention to what your opponent is discarding. It can help you deduce their strategy and decide which cards to keep or discard.
  • Consider collecting cards they discard if it benefits your hand.

Keep Track of the Discard Pile

  • Remember which cards have been discarded to avoid discarding a card your opponent might need.
  • This also helps you assess the chances of completing your potential melds.

Runs Are Valuable

  • While sets are important, don’t overlook the value of runs (consecutive cards of the same suit). They can be just as useful for scoring.

Be Patient

  • Don’t rush to knock or end the hand if you have a good chance to improve your hand or aim for Gin.
  • Gin and Big Gin can earn you substantial bonus points, so keep playing strategically.

Balance Strategy with the Game Score

  • Adapt your strategy based on the overall game score. If you’re ahead, consider knocking early to prevent your opponent from catching up.
  • If you’re behind, take calculated risks to aim for Gin and get back into the game.

Stay Flexible

  • Don’t get locked into a single strategy. Be willing to change your approach based on the cards you receive and your opponent’s moves.