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Disputes During Partnership Play

During the course of a game in partnership play, the vast majority of disputes are caused by a player’s request for a count from a losing opponent and the opponent’s refusal to give it while the player’s partner or partners are still playing their hands. This can lead to high tension and a very strained game if partners in the game to not adhere to the rule of asking for a count.

The rule is very specific in that no player holding 11 cards in his hand is entitled to a count from his partner’s opponent. He cannot get the count until he has made his discard. In the case of a six-handed game, when one player has knocked or announced gin and one of his two partners is holding 11 cards, neither partner is entitled to a count until both hands are holding no more than 10 cards.

In the event that the opponent of a player who knocks or gins gives his count without displaying his hand and a partner of the player who knocked or ginned makes a play against the given count, that count stands. Even though it may be subsequently discovered to be wrong when the hand is exposed, it does not matter. That is the count that they must go by, even if the count was erroneous. In other words, the cards do not actually speak from themselves once a play has been made against a given count.

Therefore, when a losing count is given, the hand must always be layed down face up and exposed to the winners. This is before any play is made against that count, so that it may be verified and corrected, if necessary, by the opponents before any play is made.

In the case of a dispute and in general, a critical or belligerent partner or opponent can do more harm to his team than good. In other words, if there are disputes throughout the game and is criticized by either his partner or the other player for the manner in which it was handled, the people playing the game are often so aggravated that they cannot play the hand to the best of their ability.

You should always remember not to criticize your partner or another opponent until the game is fully over with. Then, if you still have a problem with what happened during the play of the game, you can all discuss it without sacrificing the play of the game. You do not need to go any further than explaining your position as simply as possible because arguments are unnecessary and the bitterness that can ensue can ruin even the most enjoyable partnership game.

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The Importance of Waiting for a Count

The importance of waiting for a count during the course of a game, especially during important hands, is worth more than having additional picks in a game. In fact, a player who is not advising his partner to wait for the count, or a partner playing on at random without stopping and waiting for his partner’s count, is giving up on one of the biggest advantages that is afforded to him in partnership play.

Even in a winning situation it is just as important to wait for the count instead of just waiting for one in a losing situation. The losing count of a partner, added to the previous score of the opponent’s is the sole factor in determining the safe count for the player still playing his hand.

For example, if you are playing a four-handed game, your opponent’s have started play with a total score of 200 points. Your partner was knocked against and loses 20 points, which is doubled for 40. This now gives your opponents a grand total of 240 points in this game. Since 300 points is the winning score in a four-handed game, you know that you can only afford to lose a maximum of 58 points and still protect the game. This means that your safe count is four. That is, if you are ginned against and hold four or less points, your opponents cannot go out in the game. If you are holding five or more when ginned against, the game is automatically over. This is the most important piece of information that you can obtain in the course of play. From this point on, it should be the sole factor determining the play of your hand.

However, if your partner was knocked against and his loss is less than a gin count, you should obviously choose to play your hand for gin in order to wind up with a plus game score. If your partner’s loss is beyond retrieving, then you would undoubtedly knock as quickly as possible to save the roodles. While the examples are given for four-handed play, the same principles apply in six-handed play.

The inability of a player to take full advantage of the right to hold his play or wait for a count is as detrimental to him as his failure to pick up an opponent’s discard, which is badly needed to complete his hand. Remember, the protection of the score or count is the most important factor in partnership play, and the rights to these counts are the most basic part of this type of game.

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Wait For the Count

Along the same lines of “hold your play”, the phrase “wait for the count” is equally as important. In partnership games where only the combined scores are the effective scores, obviously we are concerned only with the net result of the team play. When in the normal rate of play one of the two partners knocks or gins his hand, his partner is entitled to the result of his partner’s actions before making his next play. The partner who resolves his hand with an action such as gin or a knock must turn to his partner and say “wait for the count.”

It is extremely important to wait for the count after it is being said. For example, suppose that each partner in a four-handed game picks from the deck at the same time. One picks gin, while his teammate picks his third meld. The partner who picks his third meld might ordinarily decide to knock at this point. However, now that he is aware that his partner has picked gin he may decide, based on the score, to also play for gin because the win of the game is already protected by his partner’s gin. He could also decide to knock his hand since the number of points that his partner has won may be enough to either put them out of the game or put them close enough to end the game by a knock for a few points. If playing for gin, he may also have to decide which card to discard from his hand. Normally, all these factors would require specific decisions on his part based primarily on his own hand. However, having obtained the exact count that his partner has won, his decisions are resolved for him.

For a more specific example, let’s say that in a hand with a knock card of eight, one partner has won only five points and gin, and the total number of points gained does not put their team in the range of ending the game with another gin. If the player who had picked the nine melded cards has been left with a pair of sevens, his discard of one of the sevens would not leave him under his partner’s winning count. His decision has been resolved to the extent that he must knock in order to protect his partner’s win.

However, let us suppose that in the just mentioned game, rather than a pair of sevens, he holds a seven and a three. His decision has again been resolved to that extent that he must discard the seven to protect his team’s win. On the other hand, if his partner had won only one or two points and gin and his teammate has no way of getting under the count or knock, and the winning of this particular set of hands is important, such as getting off of a schneid or keeping his opponent on schneid, his decision is also resolved to the extent that he must break his hand and play to the wall. As you can clearly see, the scenarios would have been much different if he didn’t wait for the count of his opponent.

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The Importance of Holding Your Play

Now that we know when and why you should call “hold your play” to your partner or opponent, we should look at the importance of this play.

Suppose you are in a four-handed game, play has progressed to about halfway through the deck, and the payer on the right side of the table has gotten his hand down to a knock condition. For this example, the knock card is the 10♦. He is undecided at this point as to whether to knock or not. He glances at his partner’s hand and sees that his partner has six-melded cards and four pictures, including two Queens, which total 40 points. Since, at this point in the hand and because of the score of the game, this is a rather large count to carry, he does not know whether to knock and win a few points or to keep playing for gin with the possibility of protecting against a large loss on the part of his partner. While thinking about what action to take, he does not advise the other side to hold their play and his partner’s opponent discards a Queen to his partner’s two Queens. This discard has knocked his partner’s hand down from forty points to ten points. Since the knock card was a ten, his partner is also now in a position to knock. Therefore, the decision of the first player has been resolved. He knocks his hand and his partner does the same. Both partners win their hands. But if that Queen was not thrown at that moment, or there was a “hold” in effect, he might have made an additional play from his hand before knocking, in which case the play as well as the pick from the unused stock could have helped his opponent tremendously, even to the extent of gin.

Another similar situation would be that after viewing the cards in his partner’s hand, a player is undecided whether to knock or play for gin. While deliberating, his partner continues to play and picks from the unused stock another mismatched picture card. He then discards from his hand, breaking one of his two melds. Now the first partner is aware that his teammate is playing strictly a defensive game and he is playing his hand to the wall. Under such circumstances, the chances are nine out of ten that he will neither win nor lose his hand. Therefore, the decision of the teammate has been resolved. He knows that if knocks wins, all the points obtained for his team will stand.

Every play made by his partner and every change in the pattern of his partner’s hand gives him an opportunity to evaluate how his partner is playing. Whether it is aggressively for a win, or defensively to protect his hand, telling them to hold his play allows the teammate to come to a decision regarding his only play. Taking advantage of the more rapid play of his partner or the deliberate slowing up of a player is not acceptable conduct in the game of partnership gin rummy.

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Hold Your Play

One of the basic principles of partnership play is that the play of the partners is more or less simultaneous. This simply means that the team that has lost the previous hand, who is now dealing, should deal their hands simultaneously, not one before the other. Once the deal has been made and before the first play, it is generally accepted that the partners on both sides will glance at each other’s hand s to quickly determine whether or not either one of them has a winning hand. From this point on they enjoy the right to look at each other’s hand with every card.

Sometimes this is done automatically, but at other times it is done deliberately for specific purposes. Since in partnership play you are actually playing and scoring as a team, you are as concerned about the results that can originate from your partner’s hand as well as from your own. Most often, the play of your hand is to some extent guided by the development of your partner’s hand. Of course, this is all applicable to your opponent’s hand as well. The difference in the rate of play of the hands and primarily the completion of one hand prior to another could have a very radical effect on the overall result of any particular hand.

It is a fact that consciously or subconsciously the better play of a partnership will slow up his play in order to obtain a result of his partners hand so that he can make the proper decision as to the manner in which to complete his own hand. Furthermore, the developments and changes that occur in his partner’s hand during the course of play give him tremendous opportunities to change his own methods. Advantages such as these used deliberated are considered extremely bad conduct since the specific rule of the game is that at any time a player slows up his normal rate of play or stops his play in the course of his hand to either look at his partner’s hand, examine the score, or for any other reason, it is his responsibility to advise his opponents of this with the phrase “hold your play”. This in effect protects the other side from giving him an undue advantage by completing additional plays to his partner’s hand, which would make his decision that much easier.

There is no penalty for this if they do not call “hold your play”, but on the whole it is looked upon in a rather deceitful way. The basic protection that a player has against the failure of his opponent to call “hold your play” is that the player who is being delayed against should immediately turn to his partner and advise his partner to “hold your play”. In captain games, the non-player on the extra side has the same responsibilities and rights as far as calling “hold your play”.

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The Throw-In Count

In partnership play, there is an additional factor involving the third or last game in a set, known as the throw-in count. If a team has, through one or two of its players, scored a sufficient number of points to put them out in the last game to a degree where the last remaining player on that team can no longer lose sufficient points for the game to remaining in play, that is a throw-in.

For example, in a four-handed game the score of the first winning partner plus the score on the score card has brought their game total to 370 points and the hand is being played at double value. If the remaining partner holds 10 points or less, he cannot lose enough points to keep that game in play, so therefore, the game is automatically ended at that point. Since he can no longer lose the game, he cannot play for additional score or boxes. However, he is not required to play for a throw-in. He has the privilege of staying over the count if he so chooses, but this privilege is exercised only on rare occasions. For instance, if a player knows he has his opponent’s hand dead and the odds favoring a gin for him far exceed those of his opponent, he is then taking a calculated risk of possibly losing the game against the possibility of winning extra boxes, extra roodles, and score.

In addition to this, there are many cases where side bets are made on a game as to which team will win a plus score. These side bets sometimes exceed the actual money that is bet on the points. In a case where one side has won the first two columns of a game, the other team will be forced not just to win the three columns but to win more points in the three columns than their opponents have won in the first two columns. In this case, they might be forced to play for extra boxes and roodles.

For example, Team A has won 1634 points on the first two games. In the last game, Team A has 236 points on score and a total of nine boxes. With the first partner winning his hand, Team B has reached a total score of 332. The four boxes that they receive for the winning gin give them a combined total of 10 boxes. The partner on Team B has reached a throw-in count of seven. In checking the score he notes that if the game were thrown-in at this point, their total score would consist of 332 and 300 for winning the game, 63 for the difference between the opponent’s score and 300, and 25 for one additional box. This totals 721 points, which double comes out to 1142. Team B would obviously lose all side bets. The Team B player is also aware that if he were to gin his hand he would receive four boxes for the gin, which would be worth 200 points since the last game is doubled. Four extra boxes for winning roods would be worth another 200 points, the gin bonus of 25 would add another 50, and the at least one point in his opponent’s hand would be worth 2. This would bring his minimum game total to 2114 points which would of course cause his team to win all side bets. This is a case where the risk involved would be measured against the actual value of a side bet.

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Partnership Play – The Value of Bonus Boxes

If there is anything that is extremely imperative in the game of gin rummy, it is to realize the value of bonus boxes, which can often exceed the point value of a score. This is especially true in partnership play with its roodles. A roodle is when all partner’s win in one hand of the game.

For instance, the roodles of a six-handed game, with an average of 75% of the hands being played for double, are very valuable and must be protected or broken up as the occasion demands. That is, when all three players have won their hands in a double value game, the roodles alone are six boxes. With each box valued at 25 points, this is a bonus of 150 points for the team. Should two of the partners gin their hands and the third wins on a knock, the winning team will score 14 extra boxes. Together with the boxes that will be counted for the actual score, plus the score itself, which for example in this hand would be 140 points, the actual score won is 515 points. That is 375 points for the 15 boxes plus the 140 points. If this score were to be received in all three columns, it would equal 2060 points since the last column is double. Of course, if a triple schneid were involved, this score would soar to 4120 points.

In this same example, if one of the three partners hand lost his hand after his first two partners had ginned, they would still receive eight extra boxes for the two gins. Together with the box for the score, which would total nine boxes or 225 points plus for example 90 points, their winning score would be a total of 315 points. If this is carried out to all three columns, the value would be 1260 plus the difference for the schneids, etc. Therefore, the dramatic difference in the points scored by the loss of only one of the three hands on a knock is quite noticeable.

Therefore, the protection of the roodles and the score involved by the winning of all three hands is essential when partner number one has won his hand. The breaking up of the roodles is equally essential when the first partner has lost his hand. In view of this, the basic fact has been established that whether or not the first partner has won or lost his hand, the second partner must knock his hand as quickly as possible for the protection or breaking up of the roodles plus the additional fact involved in protecting the count. The third player, except for very rare exceptions, must disregard the gin potential of his hand if his hand can be knocked and won and guarantee the roodles for his side or the breaking up of the roodles for the other side.

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The Game Winning Safe Count

There is yet another safe count that you must give important consideration to when it comes to partnership play, and that is the game winning safe count.

For example, playing in a four handed game where the game score is 300, you started out with a game score of 280 in the first column. Your partner wins 26 and gin which is 51 points double, or 102, so now you have a score of 382 in the first column. You know that, should your opponent gin you, he will immediately get credit for a 50 point bonus. This would reduce your score to 332. Your score would be further reduced by the number of points you have in your hand doubled. If you have 16 points in your hand, you will lose 32 more points over the gin bonus. This would bring your total score now down to 300 and the game is automatically over. Of course, if you lose any less than 16 points you would end up with even more than 300 and again the game would be over. However, if you had 17 points or more in your hand when your opponent ginned, your total score would be brought under 300, and the game would not be over. In this case, your game winning safe count is 16 and your entire play in this situation must be geared to bringing your hand down to that number of 16 or less, and not go over. Of course, this is only true of your score in the first game. Then you will have to consider what your game winning safe count is for the second game, and then for the third and final game.

If the circumstances are such that in the third game your partner’s winning score or your partner’s score for winning his hand brings your score up to 360, for example, you know that you can only lose 50 on a gin which brings you back to 310. As long as you cannot lose more than 10 po9ints from your own hand, which is 5 points doubled, the game is automatically over. It can never be saved by your opponents. Therefore, if your hand is brought down to five points or less, you have what is known as an automatic throw-in and the hand is decked that way. Without ginning, without underknocking, without ever knocking you have won your hand and the game, merely by bringing your total point value down to the safe game count.

There are certain extremely rare circumstances when going over a safe count is warranted. One instance is when your partner has, by winning his hand, placed you in a position whereby you are almost guaranteed to go out in the game by ginning your hand; whereas by losing your hand and a box you would not put the game in any jeopardy whatsoever. All it would mean is that the other team would get the boxes that are involved in the hand instead of your own.

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Protecting Your Partners Winning Score

In partnership play, the major requirement to play an expert game of partner’s gin rummy is to protect your partner’s winning score, if possible, even at the cost of your own hand.

For example, if your partner has just won eight and gin and you know that your opponent is holding nine melded cards and you believe that he needs the 10♠ to gin his hand, you might have a decision to make if the worse case scenario happens. You are holding nine melded cards and the 4♦. Going to the deck you pick up the 10♠. What should you do? You don’t think for yourself in this case, you think for your partner and the total score of the game. You simply throw him the 10♠. It might sound crazy as you know he will gin his hand but by letting him gin his hand you have protected your partner’s gin by losing only four points. There, your team will get on score with four points and the boxes that go with it. In effect, it is equivalent to your actually winning the hand.

If you had retained the 10♠ in your hand and discard the 4♦, you would have committed the “cardinal sin” of partnership play. You are then showing your partner that you are out to play for yourself, instead of the benefit of the team. Keep in mind that the basic idea of a partnership game is for you and your partner to win a particular hand and get some score, even if it is only one point. This is called winning. You don’t have to win solely; because some of the times, you win won’t be enough to win the hand or the game. If you are fortunate enough to win your hand and your opponent win’s his hand that is great. Primarily though, as a partnership game, it is more important for the partners as a team to achieve a score, no matter who wins and who loses.

On the other hand, if your partner has lost his hand, your prime purpose must be not just to win your hand, but to take every step possible to win at least as many points as your partner has lost, or more. Winning your hand, but not winning as many points as your partner as lost merely cuts your losses. It does not put you in a winning position. Therefore, just as your opponent is playing now to protect the count that his partner has won, you are playing to do everything possible to keep him over that count. If you succeed, your team will wind up getting that particular score and box.

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The Count in Partnership Play

The most important decision you will be faced with in the play of your hand is at the time that your partner’s hand is resolved. If your partner has won his hand, your first consideration is to put your hand into a condition in which you cannot lose more than your partner has won. Only after this is done should you turn your attention to winning your own hand. If, on the other hand, your partner has lost his hand, your first consideration should be winning back more than your partner has lost, rather than simply winning the game. The exception to this is when you are in danger of losing a game. Then your first consideration should be to get under the count.

You should also remember that, in partnership play, the score reflects not only the points your partner has won, but also the additional boxes or bonuses which you will receive on your score as against what will go to your opponent if you fail to protect his count. For example, in a four-handed game your partner ginned his opponent, catching him with 10 points. Your immediate problem is to reduce your own hand to less than ten so that, should your opponent gin you, your team will wind up in the positive with the points, as opposed to losing points. Therefore, you will not only get the difference between what your partner won and you lost, but you will get credit for the two boxes that he got as a bonus for the gin. On the other hand, if your opponent gins and catches you with more than 10 points, not only will you lose your score and the boxes, but your opponents will score and get the bonus boxes in as many game columns as they are entitled to. So, you can clearly see that this failure to get under your partner’s count can be very costly. If your partner has knocked and 41 points on a knock, you must realize that since there is a bonus of 35 for gin, you will be getting under his count by retaining not more than 15 points in your hand.

If you go a step further, you will see another scenario to this. There is no safe count to get under to protect a partner’s score if he has won 25 or less, since a gin automatically gets 25 points. However, there are what is called a safe game count. Not that you can protect his score if your partner has won just a few points on a knock, but you can still protect the game. For example, if you are playing a four-handed game with a game count of 300 and your opponent’s have 250 on the score, at this point there is no safe count if you are playing a double hand since the gin bonus for one gin alone would be 50. However, if your partner knocks and wins 10 points, this would bring your opponents score down tot 230 since the 10 would automatically be double. You now have a game safe count of nine, since if you lose nine your opponents would wind up with only 298, giving you another hand to play to see if you can win the game. Clearly, there is a need for the partner who is first able to knock to leave their partner or partners with a safe count in the game.