One of the greatest mistakes most good players make is to adopt a set style and continue to play in that pattern, regardless of the opponent’s manner of playing. This is definitely the wrong way to play. You should try to catch on to your opponent’s style as quickly as possible and adjust your game accordingly. In fact, the fundamental principle in playing against any player who has a particular pattern of play is to throw him off balance and force him to deviate his play. In order to accomplish this, you will have to look at the game you are playing as an overall crusade and any conflict battles are often lost for the purpose of winning the entire game.
If you are to be involved in a gin session you should start with the assumption that you will probably play 10 complete games which may consist of 100 hands. You can well afford to devote 5 or 6 of these individual hands or even one complete game in experimenting with game strategy. If you play your first several hands against a give opponent strategically, for the sole purpose of throwing him off his normal game, the resulting benefits over the entire session may be invaluable.
For example, in starting play against an overly aggressive of offensive player, it is often a good idea early in the hand, even at the cost of breaking your own possibilities, to throw a couple of dead cards tot try and get him to pick these on speculation. He will then be forced to hold these throughout the entire hand since he has no way of completing melds.
There will also be occasions when he will be forced to eventually throw one of these stiffs back, but by this time you will have build your hand around these particular cards, so he will doubly shocked when you pick his discard for a meld or for your own gin. This technique will generally discourage him quickly from picking cards on speculation in the later games which will give you an advantage.
If you devote the early hands of your play to playing solely for underknocks rather than to knock, you will soon have your opponent thinking twice about knocking his hand. If the aggressive player that you are playing against is the type who constantly knocks as quickly as possible, do not knock yourself but play your hand basically for gin. This will accomplish two purposes. First, in almost all cases where you have reached nine-melded and do not knock you will invariably underknock your opponent if he knocks. Second, if you play almost exclusively for gin, your knocking opponent will probably win three hands to your one, but will soon become rather discouraged over the fact that the scoring and point value of the three hands that he has won does not begin to compare to the value of the one hand in which you ginned.
It is human nature that he will subconsciously start to change his pattern of play, and not being familiar with it, he will be at a serious disadvantage during the game. Hence, you can go on to win with very little trouble.