One of the most important factors in playing better Gin Rummy is being able to evaluate your own hand, both at the time you received the deal, and also after the first four or five cards are played. You need to recognize if your hand is one that tends to lend itself towards a more offensive type of lay or if you stand a better chance of winning your hand without being aggressive. Perhaps, your hand lends itself primarily to a more defensive type of play and this will result in the best chance of winning the hand. Only you can know this, and you should recognize it relatively quickly in the hand.
You also have to know if you have an obvious losing hand. You then need to figure out how to minimize your losses. As the play progresses and as the pattern of your hand begins to change you need to be aware of these changes and how you should alter your style of play to suit the condition at any given point during the play.
When you examine your hand as the cards are being dealt, if the knock is high, you should take notice if you are holding four small unmatched cards that do not exceed the knock value. This is just as important to your hand’s success as a meld itself. Also, when playing for a high knock value, matched pairs such as two kings, or two 2’s are as valuable in your hand as sequences such as 7 and 8 of the same suit.
Here is an example of this. The knock is a 10 and you are holding the following hand:
Q ♠, Q ♥, Q ♣, 10 ♦, 9 ♠, 8 ♠, 7 ♠, 4 ♥, 3 ♣, 2 ♦, A ♠
You could knock immediately by discarding the 10 ♦. This does not require skill, only the ability to recognize the knock situation. Hence, this is called in gin circles a “no brainer”.
A good or winning hand for a knock is one which can be knocked within the first five plays. Ideally this would consist of the deal of one three-card meld, four cards totaling within the knock value, and at least two of the other three cards matched. In such a case, all you need is one card to complete that second meld and be able to knock.
When it comes to a losing hand, it is essentially the same principal. If you are dealt 10 unmatched cards and the knock is high, if within 5 or 6 picks you still cannot knock, you have to assume that it is a losing hand and try just to minimize your losses. If the knock is low then you may have a chance of developing your hand but it may take considerably longer. This is why it is so important to appraise your hand, before you play and during play, because you have to know when to give up trying to win, and rather try to reduce your hand as much as possible.