Dealt: K♥, J♥, 10♥, 9♥, 6♥, 6♠, 6♦, 7♦, 10♦, 8♣, A♠
This hand is shown to better explain the opening hand discards and to see how a beginner, good, and expert player would make their discard selection. It is the opening hand of the set and therefore it should be played to be won.
The above hand is to most people an obviously winning hand, and it should be played for a quick knock. Although an 8 knock hand is normally won by achieving six or seven melded cards and either three or four small cards that add up to eight or less. In this hand however it is conceivable that it could be knocked with just one pick, by drawing a Q♥. This card would give eight melded cards because of the 5-card sequence. Knowing that, you need to decide what you would discard giving thought to all the possibilities.
Beginner Player – The normal reaction of the beginner would be to throw the highest card in their hand that has no particular value to the formation of the hand. In this case it would be the K♥.
Good Player – This player would realize the value of the opportunity that the K♥ offers with being able to knock the hand with just one pick, and he will most likely keep this card. The card that would appear most useless would be the 10♦ which is safe because of the other 10 in his hand. However, if picked up by an opponent, a player would have no way of knowing whether it is for the three 10 meld or a diamond run.
Expert Player – This player would determine the advantages and disadvantages of discarding each of the 5 cards available to him. He would also realize the rare chance that he would pick the Q♥. That being said, since the expert is playing to win, he will keep the K♥ in the off chance he picks up the Q♥. He would also know to keep two cards that would add up to less than 8 points to win. That would eliminate the 7♦ and A♠. The expert is then left with the 10♦ and 8♣. Throwing the 10♦ would be safer because it is somewhat protected, but the 10 has no offensive value. The 8♣ is a wild card because it is not protected in any way, but it does add offensive value because if it is not picked the opponent may return the 8♥. This card would greatly enhance the opportunity for a quick knock by either an additional add-on or the picking of two small cards. Because the expert wants full offensive value, the expert chooses the 8♣ to discard.
Most beginners do not think about defending a hand, whereas an expert is the best of both offensive and defensive players, and considered to be the happy medium. They know the offensive value of cards and use them to their benefit, while considering the defensive value of the cards at the same time. This skill is what makes you a winner at gin rummy.