Gin Rummy is undoubtedly a game of skill. It has three phases of play; the beginning or opening play, middle play, and late play. Although each has its own individual important aspects, the opening plays are some of the most meaningful to the game, and also the most skillful.
In gin your moves are directed primarily toward making your opponent do what you want him to do in order to provide you with the necessary opportunities to win the game. In advanced gin play this is even truer. It is quite possible, and most probable that an expert player is directing his play in a manner to cause an opponent to do exactly what he wants him to do.
Gin hands are often divided into two categories; freaks and regular hands. The vast majority are the regular or average hands in which you see time and time again. Outside of the average hands are the “freak” hands. These are the hands that call for out and out aggressive or offensive play, or out and out defensive play. This is where the skill and strategy really come into play. If you do end up with a freak hand, you need to know exactly what to do in order to get the most out of these highly unusual hands.
Extremes of the offensive type of hands are those that are dealt either with nine melded cards or those that can be knocked without picking up even one card. Other unusual offensive hands may have one meld or no melds at all with every other card in the hand matched to each other. These are just hands that you simply do not see very often, but when you do it is cause to act very offensively. A determination should be quickly made whether you should play it for a knock, or whether it should be played for gin.
On the defensive side, a freak hand may be one in which there are no matched or related cards. Although this doesn’t happen much, it can, and it will at some point in time. The most important consideration in this type of hand is to achieve the time necessary to develop your hand into a winning situation, which can be difficult when dealt these types of hands. Somehow you have to be able to get down almost to the bottom of the deck, while also preventing your opponent from developing their hand at the same time.
It is interesting to note, and one that is fairly obvious if you think about it, if you have a freak hand then chances are your opponent does as well. It only makes sense considering your hand. The same can be said if you have a regular or even a great hand. Chances are your opponent will have the same type of hand, and that should be considered thoroughly when making your opening play.