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Playing Partnership Gin

Gin Rummy may be played by two or more people, but never more than eight. If you have more than 8 people it is suggested that you open up another table for playing, as it may get too confusing to have so many people in one game.

When two people play the game of Gin it is referred to as single or head-to-head play. When three people play it is referred to as captain’s play. When four or more people play it is called a partnership game.

In partnership games, the playing of the individual hands is the same as in head-to-head. The only difference is in the play itself. When singles play, the hand ends when one of the players knocks, goes gin, or when the play goes to the wall. If you are playing partners you play your individual hand against the opponent and your partner plays a hand against his opponent. If you finish first then you wait for your partner, and the same if he finishes first, he waits for you. If you both win your hand, then the sum total of both your hands are added to your points. If one of you wins and the other one loses, the winning difference is credited to you or your opponents depending on whoever has more points.

For example – If you win your hand and are due to be credited 30 points from your win, but your partner losses with 29 points then you have still won the hand with 1 point. The same can be said if you lose 30 points and your partner wins with 31 or more points, then you have also won your hand. If at any time you lose more than your partner has won or your partner loses more than you have won, then you lose the hand. Whereas in singles you are solely responsible for your hand, in a partnership game your team can win the hand even if you individually lose yours.

If by chance one of your hands goes to the wall, only the other hand is counted. If you call Gin and are due to get a bonus, and your partner wins without a bonus then you are the only one to get credit for it.

A game with 4 people playing partners ends at 300 points, but if you have a 6-handed game then it ends at 350 or more points. Partners sit next to one another and keep the same opponents throughout the game, except that the players on the side that loses a hand may change seats if they feel like they want to. A player may advise his partner of his rights during the game, but they may not discuss specific cards or hands. They can only speak of the hand after the opponent has knocked and then it should only be to discuss:

• The wrong count
• An illegal knock
• The best way to match his cards for melding purposes and count reduction
• The best way to lay off the cards

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The Tied Hand

A tied hand is not that common in gin rummy, but when it does happen you need to know how and why you proceed the way you do. On occasion, the play of the hand proceeds to the point where one of the players draws the 50th card of the deck from the stock. If this happens it of course only leaves two unused cards in the deck or stock. The player who draws the 50th card may knock or go gin at that point. If the player does not go gin or knock then the player must discard and his opponent has the right to pick up the discard and use it.

That player may use the card to create a meld, or to add to an existing meld so that he further reduces his hand value. However, he cannot take the card and simultaneously discard it in order to knock the hand the he was previously able to knock. In other words, if he already has a hand he can knock he can’t pick up the discard and place it right back down to knock or go gin. He must discard a different card completely.

If neither player knocks or gins then the deal is over. The hand has been played “to the wall” as it is called in a tied hand. It is essentially considered a draw and neither player is awarded any points. The same dealer that dealt that hand will re-deal and you will start the play over with the same knock card.

If you are wondering why you only draw to 50 cards instead of 52 you are not alone. The reason for this goes way back to almost the conception of the game. Some players when dealing carelessly will allow their opponent a glimpse of the bottom card in the deck. This lets the opponent know what the card is and that it will remain out of play for most, if not all of the game. This gives the opponent a very large advantage, especially if it is a card that he needs to make a meld. It may only be one card, but that card can make a huge difference in how the hand is played by the person who saw the bottom card.

If the play went down to the last card the person who knew the card could essentially control the play of the hand to bring it down to the last card. That means they could control the picks from the deck so that he would be sure to obtain the bottom card. Obviously this is cheating, but many people have done it, and if given the opportunity, many more would. This advantage would be so great that it would more or less overcome any other opportunities that the opponent might have. With the last two cards being completely left out of play then there is no advantage to either player and it just makes the play that much more interesting.

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The Rules of the Knock

When a player knocks in the game of Gin Rummy it means that he has reduced his hand to the maximum points allowed by what the value of the knock card is. This means for example if the knock card was a seven, then the person who is knocking has seven or less points left in their hand. Remember if the knock card is an Ace then it must be played to Gin.

A player can knock in any turn of play, but it must be after drawing and before discarding his final card. If he forgets to knock before he discards then he cannot do so until the next play of his hand which happens after his opponent has his chance to play. When the player knocks, he must clearly state his intention. He can do this in four different ways. They include:

• Saying the word “Knock”
• Announcing the total numerical value of his unmatched hands, also known as the count
• Exposing his entire hand arranged into matched sets and unmatched cards
• Discarding face down next to his hand, never on the discard pile. If the player places the card he is discarding on the discard pile then it is considered to be cheating and the hand will have to be forfeited.

After knocking the count is figured by placing value on the unmatched cards. The melded cards are counted as zero and placed into piles separate from the unmatched cards. The unmatched cards are then given points based on the value of the card. For example, if you have a 2 and a 3 that are unmatched, then your count is 5. If you have a 2, 2, and a 3 then your count is 7, and so on. A ten, jack, queen, or king is valued at 10. An ace is valued at one.

After the player has announced his count, the opponent must then expose their hand to all the players in the game. The opponent is permitted to reduce his hand by placing any melds that he has on the table separate from each other. He can then take any unmatched cards from his hand that meld with the player’s hand that knocked and reduce those to zero, also called laying off his cards. For example if the player that knocked had a meld of ace, two, and three of hearts and the player that did not knock had the four and five of hearts, he is permitted to lay off those two cards to the knockers cards. This will essentially reduce his count, and may possibly reduce it enough to underknock his opponent which will be explained later. The player that knocked is not allowed to lay off any of his unmatched cards to his opponents, and if your opponent called gin you are not allowed to lay off any cards even if you have cards that can be laid off.

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The Underknock

The underknock is the most commonly overlooked part of Gin Rummy, but it is as important as the knock itself. When your opponent knocks, the card value is counted. Once your opponent puts a value on his unmatched cards you can then show your hand to everyone in the game and start assessing value to your unmatched cards. If after you meld your cards and lay off any additional unmatched cards to give you a total that is less than what your opponent knocked at, then you have what is considered to be an underknock. You then win the hand instead of the person who actually knocked.

This can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is quite easy to calculate. Let’s say for example that your opponent knocked with 5 points. That means his unmatched cards add up to 5 points. You then turn over a hand consisting of 2 melds of three cards each and 4 unmatched cards. You look at the knockers melds and notice that 3 of your unmatched cards can be laid off to his melds. That simply means that your cards are either continuing a run of the same suit that your opponent melded, or if they have 3 of the same card and you have the other one you can lay that off as well. After laying off your unmatched cards you may have a card that is worth fewer points than his 5 points. If you only have a 3 left, then you have successfully underknocked your opponent and you win the hand. If you find that you and the person who knocked have tied in unmatched card counts then you still win the hand.

If you are able to lay off all of your unmatched cards on an opponent’s knock hand, it establishes what is called a gin off. Basically you have gin because you were able to reduce your hand to zero. This generally happens when you have 9 cards consisting of 3 melds and 1 unmatched card, but if you are lucky then it can happen with as many unmatched cards as you have. Usually though, you may have a feeling that your opponent needed the one card you had left so you choose not to knock in order to surprise your opponent with the gin off. This unmatched card is then laid off for the equivalent of gin. Both the underknock and the gin off are extremely important when it comes to points, because you get extra points for an underknock.

Underknocking is considered the skill part of the game. Many people when playing Gin Rummy will purposely leave one unmatched card until they can either call gin or underknock their opponents because of the surprise element to the game. This is an especially popular part of the game when the knock card is valued at 7 or above because it gives you more of a chance of underknocking your opponent.

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Playing the Game

The play of Gin Rummy consists of two parts; the draw and the discard. The draw is made by either taking the up card or the top card on the discard pile and placing it among the cards in one’s hand, or by taking the top card of the stock and raising any part of it from the table.

The non-dealer who was dealt 11 cards rather than 10 begins the play of the hand by discarding one card face up. This is then known as the discard or “waste” pile. If he chooses, before making his first discard he can declare Gin or knock if he is in a position to do so. If the player does not knock or declare Gin, the dealer then has the choice of either picking up the card that was discarded or selecting the top card of the stock which are the cards that are face down.

If at any time during the play the player picks up his opponent’s discard, they may not discard that card on the same play. He can discard it on a subsequent hand of play. The player can pick up the opponents discard to make his hand better, either through a meld, or a combination, to knock, or just to reduce his hand. The only card that is available to be picked up is the top card. The other cards in the discard pile are considered to be dead and neither player may look at or pick up any cards other than the top card that is showing.

After the player has picked the top card from the stock or the top card from the discard pile, he then either knocks, declares Gin, or discards himself. The turn of play is now completed. Each person waits for the completion of their opponents play before they can make their next play. It goes back and forth until one person finally knocks or declares Gin. If the person is knocking then he must declare he is knocking and then discard their final card. It automatically ends that particular hand play.

It is good to note that at any point in play, either player can remove the unused stock from the table and spread the stock and count the cards that are left. This can be done as often as the player desires, but it is not usually done until the stock cards are almost depleted. This means that there are usually 12 or less cards. This is when the number of picks becomes an important factor in the actual play of the hand.

If you are not using a knock deck, then the non-dealer has the first option of selecting the turned up card that is also being used as the knock card. He can then discard another in its place, but the knock amount will not change even if the card is not there. It is at this point that you should write down the knock amount to make sure there is no dispute as to what it was, in case it is picked up.

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Establishing What the Knock Amount Is

One of the ways you win at Gin Rummy is to knock before your opponent does. The question then becomes, how do you know the amount of points you have to be reduced to before you knock?

Besides the regular standard 52 card deck, you also use what is known as the knock deck. The knock deck is also another standard 52 set of playing cards that should be a different color or style from the regular deck that you use to actually play the game.

The knock deck is well shuffled before each new game, not each individual hand. It is placed face down into either the middle of the table next to the standard deck that you are using to play the game, or into the card case that you use for both of the decks. The top card of the deck is turned face up and placed against the second card so that it remains exposed for the entire game. This is the knock card for the first hand.

It represents the minimum knock for that particular hand. For example, if you turn over a 6 then the minimum amount of points you can have before you knock is 6. If you turn over a J, Q, or K the knock amount is 10. If you happen to turn up an Ace then you are not allowed to knock at all, the hand must be played completely for Gin. Whether it is a 2, 4, or 6 player game each of these teams are bound by this card and cannot legally knock without having less than that number of points.

At the end of the hand, the present knock card that is facing up is removed and placed at the bottom of the deck face to face with the bottom card. The second card in the deck is now turned face up and placed back to back with the next card. This is the knock card for the second hand. At the conclusion of the next hand, that card is then removed and placed directly behind the previous knock card facing up into the deck. This process continues throughout the whole game, with each hand getting a new knock card and subsequently a new amount of points everyone can knock with.

The positioning of the used knock cards allows any player to verify the last knock card as well as how many knock cards have already been used. This is mostly done in the case of a dispute, but you can check the knock cards that have been used at any point in the game. If by any chance the previous knock card was not changed for a new hand, that card will remain the knock for the new hand if anyone has discarded already without making that discovery. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it is best just to continue on instead of potentially changing the outcome of the hand. At the end of the game, not the individual hand, the knock deck is reshuffled and used for the next game.

If a knock deck is not available the knock is established in a different way. Each player is dealt 10 cards face down as normal, but instead of the dealer giving the 21st card face down to his opponent, he turns the card face up. This open card establishes the knock but its face or pip value.

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The Art of the Deal

The deal is an essential part of the Gin Rummy game. It is something that people commonly do wrong, but yet it is one of the most simple parts of the game.

First you start by shuffling. This should be obvious, but you need to shuffle the cards well. Card shufflers can be found at any game or discount store for a relatively low cost, and they come in handy especially if you are playing a large game with 6 or 8 people. It makes it easy if you have one or two decks shuffling while you are playing the game. It not only makes it quicker but then there are no disputes as to how the cards were shuffled. If you have only two people and you are shuffling by hand then each person must shuffle the deck before dealing. The dealer shuffles first, and then gives the deck to the non-dealer who shuffles last.

Second, after the shuffling is complete, you spread all the cards out face down on the table. Each player draws a card from within the center 40 cards. This means that you should not draw from the 6 cards on the left, or the 6 cards from the right. The person who picks the lowest card automatically deals the first hand. If you have two people that pick the same ranked card and they are the lowest then those two people redraw until someone has a lower cards.

Third, you shuffle again. The non-dealer cuts the deck and returns the pack to the dealer so that he or she can deal the hand. Again, the person with the lowest card deals first, but after the first hand the loser of each individual hand deals the following hand. You do not go “around the table” as in other card games, which is especially important to remember when you are playing a partnership game.

Finally, the dealer then deals the cards. It is done one at a time, putting the cards face down when dealing to his opponent first, and then to himself. He alternates dealing the cards until each player has 10 cards each. The next card, which is the 21st card, is dealt face down to the non –dealer so that non-dealer has 11 cards and the dealer has 10. The remaining cards in the pack are placed face down in either the middle of the table or in one section of a 2-sectional box to form what is called the stock.

Then, you can let the game begin!

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The Object of the Game

The object of the game of Gin Rummy is quite simple when you break it down. It is to reduce your hand to a minimum number of points before your opponent is able to reduce his hand to a lesser number than yours. For reference the points are as follows: Ace is one point, 2 is two points, 3 is three points, and so on. Any card from a 10 through a King is valued at 10 points each. Essentially to win the game with the least amount of points, you want to “meld” the highest cards first so that you are left with the least amount of points in case your opponent knocks.

A meld is when you form a matched set within your hand. For example, if you have 3 Kings, then you have a meld. All cards that are contained in the melds have no point count value so if you are trying to figure out how many points you have, you simply don’t count the cards that have already been melded. A meld consists of 3 or more cards all of the same face value as described above, or 3 or more cards in a sequence or run of the same suit. This could be a 2, 3, 4, and 5 all of one suit such as hearts. The ideal reduction of a hand is to have zero points in your hand, which is called Gin. This is accomplished by making sure all 10 cards meld together, with the most common melds being two melds of 3 cards each, and one meld of 4 cards. It is conceivable that you could have two 5 card melds, or a 4 and 6 card meld. Whichever way it is done, as long as you have more than 3 cards in any meld and all 10 cards are being used in a meld then you can legally call Gin.

There are three ways to win the game:

  • By getting Gin – Melding all 10 cards before your opponent
  • By knocking your hand – This means that you have reduced the point count in your hand to the point where you are legally able to knock
  • By underknocking or undercutting your opponent – This is when your opponent knocks his hand but you actually have less points in your hand at the time. For example, if your opponent knocks with 6 points, but you only have 5 points left in your hand then you win the hand by underknocking him.

This is the basic object of the game. There is more skill involved in playing the actual hand but this will give you an idea of what you need to win the hand and possibly the game. The game can be played to a certain number so winning a hand will only get you closer to winning the entire game, but losing a hand can set you back by many points. The more often you call Gin, the better chances are that you will reach the full point total first.

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The Background of Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy has become one of the most widely played card games in the country just in the past 30 years. As many as 50 million people play Gin, whether it is professionally in tournaments or at card games at home with friends and family.

Gin Rummy actually got its start in the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until the early 1930’s that the game became popular in kitchens with families playing long into the night. It was during the years of the Depression that people were forced to look for inexpensive means of entertainment and distraction. Playing cards at home seemed to offer these opportunities for free, which is what people were looking for at that time. They didn’t even have gas to drive their car anywhere, so more and more people chose to stay home and invite over their neighbors for a rousing game of cards.

Most people only knew how to play poker, Pinochle, or bridge so there was a need for a card game that could be easily learned by anyone, including the children. It had to be a game that could also be played with different amounts of people, as well as a game that could be played any time of the day or night. Gin Rummy seemed like an obvious choice, because as an offshoot of the old-fashioned Knock Rummy people already knew of it, and had a general knowledge of how to play it. Gin Rummy which up to this point was relatively obscure became the card game of choice almost overnight.

The fact that the game could include from two to eight people was a definite benefit, as well as the easy rules of the game, and method of scoring. The fact that you could also add variations to the game boded well for families looking to enhance the original game. Additional rules were added which placed a premium on skill rather than luck, which worked well for the men who were gathering to play the game on a more competitive level. So for all intents and purposes, this was a game that truly everyone could enjoy.

In the recent years the rules have been combined into what is known as the standard form of Gin Rummy. The game of Gin has opened up many avenues for both families and competitive card players. Not only have people enjoyed the game at home, but there were actual Gin centers in some of the major cities in the 1970’s. People traveled from far away to play in a setting that was more conducive to serious play.

At that point, people started to write books to officiate the rules because although it was considered to be a spirited game, it was not yet a sport and there were no official governing bodies that ran the game as many thought it should be run. So, a set of standard rules were written in ink that to this day have been strictly followed.

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Requirements for Gin Rummy Play

The standard rules of Gin Rummy are rather strict when it comes to tournament or competitive play. Included below are the very basic rules and what is required to play the game of Gin Rummy. Before starting a game you should have everything ready so you can get right into the game.

Gin is strictly a two handed game when played by the standard rules. Three players may play in the same game, but usually one sits out while the other two play, and they play the winner. If you have four or more players in an even number then you play what is called a partnership game. The most players you should have would be 8, but at that point, it might make more sense to have two games going at the same time.

You use a standard pack of 52 playing cards. The cards rank downward from King to Ace. Ace is never high, only low. For example, if you have a run it can start at 10 and end at the King, it should not go 10, J, Q, K, A. The ace only works for an A, 2, 3 etc. There is no difference in the rank of the four suits, and no suit is scored higher or lower than another. A second standard pack of 52 playing cards are used for what is known as the knock deck. These cards should be a different color or design then the pack of cards you actually play with so that there is no confusion. The second pack of cards is not used during the actual play of a hand.

The other requirements are very basic. You need a pencil or pen as well as a pad of paper to keep score. Many people choose to use a two-sectional box of either wood or plastic to hold the part of the deck that remains unused, as well as the cards you discard. Most people when playing for fun merely put the stack that you pick from in the middle, and place the cards you are discarding on the side of the stack. It is up to your individual preference as which to use.

After you deal the cards, you turn the first card over and place it in the discard pile or rack so that everyone can see it. All subsequent cards, whether picked from the remainder of the deck or from the opponent’s discards are taken from this rack. It should be placed in a way that when the discard card is placed face up in the box it should be the only card that is showing. In other words, no one should have any opportunity to see even a sliver of the cards underneath it.