When you are playing even the friendliest game of Gin Rummy, you must always take into consideration the state of the score with every play of a hand. This fact must seem obvious to you, especially if you have experience with this game, but many players overlook the importance of the score. It is true even when you are in the first hand of the game, and there is no physical score yet, since the person who scores first has a very decided psychological advantage over his opponent.
If you win the first hand of a set, your opponent must play the next hand with the sole purpose of scoring, whereas you can play more freely with the thought that can lose the hand, and you are no worse off then when you started. You can have a more relaxed feeling of the game, which in turn often makes you play better, because you are not under the pressure to win the next hand. If you win the second hand, you will even have a greater advantage because of the scoring system employed in gin games.
For example, if you have already scored for the first game and you win 25 points on the second hand, you are not only winning 25 points, but 50 because the score is added to both the first and second game columns. If you have already scored the first and second hand, and you win the third you are already up 100 points because you score 25 points both in the first and second hand and then 50 for the third column, because all of the third games are doubled. You can surely see how winning each successive hand after the first hand will give you tremendous odds.
In aggressive play such as playing to gin, the odds will almost always be in your favor, so you should not even consider playing defensively if you know you need to get to gin. This is where examining the score is of the utmost importance, because it really does dictate your play in each hand. If you are on a schneid, which is when you win a game in which the loser scores no points resulting in a double score, and your opponent has the opportunity to end the hand and win the game, you must play with defense as your primary concern. If the condition is reversed and your opponent is on a schneid then offense is your goal and you should play as aggressively as possible.
As described above, there are many reasons to watch the score throughout the game, but especially at the later stages of the game. You need to make sure you keep yourself under the count if your opponent is playing for gin because if you are ahead in the game, you don’t want to have too many points in your hand so that you lose the game if he goes gin. The opposite can be said if need to go gin to win the hand rather than just a knock. You will only know this if you watch the score carefully.