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Comparing a Beginner Player, a Good Player, and an Expert Player

When you are playing the game of gin rummy, it is relatively easy to recognize who is a beginner player, a good player, and an expert player. Can you recognize which one you are however? Let’s take a look at a specific hand in which you can see the differences between the beginner, the good player, and the expert player.

For this example we will be holding the cards of:
8 ♣, 7 ♣, 6 ♣, 3 ♦, 2 ♦, A ♦, K ♠, K ♥, J ♥, 10 ♥

There is only eight cards remaining in the unused portion of the stock, and it is our pick. No one is on a schneid, either side can go out in the game by ginning their hand, and there is no safe count on either side. In addition we also know that our opponent is holding either six or seven melded cards. We also know the following:

• He does not have queens since 2 queens were earlier discarded
• He does not have 9’s since 2 black 9’s were earlier discarded
• He does not have 7 ♥, 8 ♥, 9 ♥ because one of these cards were earlier discarded

It is fairly obvious with the way the play has gone that the opponent is holding a pair of Kings, which is the same thing we have. If we throw out one of our kings then it is most likely that the opponent will go gin. Obviously we don’t want to take that chance. Say that the 9 ♥ is picked off the top of the deck which then gives us a third run leaving us with only the two kings. One card needs to be discarded and here is where the differences in players can really be seen.

The beginner – For a player without much experience they will probably assume that they need to discard the king because they feel that there is no chance of his knocking with nine melded cards unless they get one of the kings, and then be fortunate enough to pick up an ace or a deuce. The beginner would discard the king in which in all probability would give his opponent gin and he would lose the game.

The good player – He would consider more of the hand then the beginner, and would realize that he has nine melded cards but he still can’t bring his hand to some sort of resolution. He would look at his choices of throwing the king and hoping that his opponent couldn’t knock, or he would consider going to the wall with the hand. He would figure that since there were only 7 cards left that chances are the game would end in a tie and would have to be replayed. So, a good player would most likely discard from the A ♦, 2 ♦, 3 ♦ run because there seems to be a natural tendency when breaking melds to break the smallest runs in your hand.

The expert player – The expert would analyze it much more completely. He would know that the opponent was holding on to the Q ♥ to protect himself against the expert going gin. He knows the opponent is playing it save by holding seven melded cards, plus the two missing Kings and the Q ♥, so he automatically reasons that he can’t discard the King but he wants to throw a card that would make the opponent think it was safe to discard the Q ♥. So, the expert would discard the 9 ♥ because it would stand to reason to the good player that the Q ♥ wouldn’t be a factor then because they would assume we would never break up a meld of 9 ♥, 10 ♥, J ♥. This then makes the opponent think he can discard the Q ♥ assuming the 9 and 10 are still in the deck. Then the expert could watch his surprise when he goes gin.

As you can see, the differences in play mean the difference in losing the game, tying the game, and winning the game.

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