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Ungentlemanly Conduct

There are also methods of cheating called “coffee-housing” or ungentlemanly conduct. These methods tend to take advantage of factors not ordinarily considered proper in playing to win any gin rummy game. The term emanated from the back rooms of many coffee houses in Austria and Hungary where the most disreputable characters got together to play cards back many years ago. Their conduct while playing cards was so ungentlemanly that they were not permitted to play cards anywhere else. Most clubs and tournaments nowadays consider coffee-housing out and out cheating. Although it is called ungentlemanly conduct, there has been an influx of women who are also considered to display this kind of behavior at the card tables around the world. Any player using these methods is not accepted into any card clubs or tournaments.

Most people consider there to be a very thin line between cheating and coffee-housing. Most people believe that taking any undue advantage is definitely a form of cheating and that is where coffee-housing falls into play. One of the ways to coffee-house is to “hustle”. This is the expert player who sits down as a new player and proceeds to play poorly in order to induce higher stakes, and then suddenly starts getting lucky and playing well. They are not just getting lucky, they are hustling you. Gin rummy takes a long time to master and no one all of a sudden starts playing certain cards over the others just on a whim. If this happens in more than one game, it is time to call it quits and take your loss for what it was, and learn what you can do differently next time.

At most card and country clubs, one of the prime examples of ungentlemanly conduct occurs in partnership games. In every group of gin rummy players you have top players, average players, and poor players. Handicapping each individual player is no problem usually so that you can get a more even game. For example, in a group of six, in most social games among members you will have players of different levels. Since the basis of club play is determined by throwing out three blank and three red cards for every game for the selection of partners, there will be many occasions when the best of the six players are on one side and the poorest of the six on the other side. The man who will look for the maximum bets when he is on the side of top players and will take only the minimum required when he is on the other side is one prime example of “coffee-housing”.

Another time is when, since the established rule in partnership games states that a player can never advise his partner on his play, the player insists on grunting, or grimacing. This is indicating his displeasure at a particular discard. It is a way to let the partner know that a card was good or bad for his hand, and will give him information on what he is holding.

It is also considered “coffee-housing” when a player tries to deceive or impart false information to an opponent. For instance, suppose a player, after picking a card from the stock starts reshuffling his hand around. This action indicates to his opponent that he is determining what he has and what he can safely discard. If he is rearranging his cards merely to lead his opponent to believe that he has problems with his hand while he is in reality, sitting with nine melded cards and has a safe card to discards, then his actions would be considered ungentlemanly conduct.

There are several types of cards that will be picked up in the ordinary course of play from an opponent’s discards. There are also occasions when thought is required as to whether or not to pick up an opponent’s discard. The picking of a stiff for either offensive or defensive purposes is a good example of this. There are also times when thought is required as to whether or not to pick a card that would be the fourth card on a run. There are times during a game when thought is required as to whether it would be advisable to pick a very small card and discard a larger valued one, either in preparation for a knock or merely to reduce a hand for a count. But if you are sitting with two Kings when your opponent discards a King and you hesitate and then pick it up to give your opponent the impression that you do not really need it for a meld but are picking a stiff to try to induce him to knock on the next card, figuring you are holding two Kings instead of a meld, it is “coffee-housing”.

When playing cards at a gambling casino or against professional gamblers it is considered perfectly proper to deceive an opponent or give him a false impression or even to take advantage of any opportunities offered short of out and out dishonestly. However, when playing gin rummy in a social manner, either at home, in clubs, or at resorts with people you know, you must play and expect them to play at all times in the same way you conduct yourself. It has been said that playing cards with somebody is the simplest and quickest way of determining character.

1 thought on “Ungentlemanly Conduct

  1. Would straightening the discard pile during the playing of a hand in gin rummy be considered “coffee-housing”?

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