Even before a card is dealt, two of the most important considerations of gin rummy strategy come into play. They are the score, and the knock card value. The score situation is the most important factor in the way the hand is played. It will help to determine whether you should play regular non-freak hands with offense or defense. Before that, your strategy starts with simply picking up your cards and getting to know what you have in your hand.
After you are dealt the cards, and before you play your first card, you should arrange the cards in some sort of order. It is the first step in the planning of strategy for the upcoming play. Most experts pick up the cards they are dealt one at a time, sorting them as they go. This way you can memorize them and figure out which way you want them to match so you can get the most out of your score. Take this time to appraise the hand and really study them to avoid making costly mistakes.
When arranging the cards in your hand you should follow this structure:
1. Your melds
2. Your possible combinations (2 or 3 cards of the same suit in sequence)
3. Your unmatched cards according to suits
You should group your two-way combinations in a way which is clear and logical to you so that they can be recognized easily. For example, if you have the 9 ♥, 9 ♣, and the 10 ♣, they should be held in exactly that way so that if an 8 ♣ or a J ♣ turns up it can be quickly recognized as a card that can provide a meld for you. You should never sort your cards in the same manner such as high to low, left to right because if you constantly do that it will provide information to your opponent. You should mix it up occasionally placing high cards in the middle, or at the opposite end.
Most gin players pick up a card from the deck and throw it away just as quickly because they do not want it, they never actually place the unwanted cards in their hand. However, many expert gin players make it a point to place every card drawn into their hand. They also shift around their cards after each pick. The purpose of this is to avoid indicating whether or not the card that was drawn was of importance to them. This is as important as how you arrange your cards because again, you want to avoid giving out any information at all that can help your opponent.
Planning your strategy starts with how you arrange your cards, and what type of hand you have, rather than picking up the first card. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you are on your way to becoming an expert player.