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Complete Example Hand #1

Player A – 9♠, 9♦, 9♣, Q♣, J♦, 10s♠, 8♣, 7♦, 2♣, A♣, A♥
Player B – K♣, K♦, K♠, Q♠, J♣, 5♣, 5♦, 4♠, 3♦, 3♥

Conditions: The knock card is the A♣. Player A had won the preceding hand and is on in one game whereas Player B is on none.

Play of the Hand:

Player A – His problem is how to convert his three melded hand into ten melded cards before allowing his opponent to do so. He notices that the only run he has is a three card set of 9’s, and he has only one opportunity to buy the fourth card here, not two. If he eliminates this from the rest of the cards in his hand the only other combination is the ace, ace, deuce of clubs. Either manner in which he fills this combination, with either the aces or the 3♣ will again leave him with the type of run to which one card can be added for the fourth meld. Basically, this is, at least at this point, a very unattractive gin hand. His consideration is how to turn it into a better one. With all of his unmatched cards he notes that by eliminating the Q♣ every one of the other four cards together with his three 9’s are combined in such a manner that they could give him up and down runs. This would be a much better situation obviously. This hand, since the odds favor his playing aggressively, should be played to develop the combinations. Since there is ample time to develop the gin hand, he will play this hand with safety and also attempt to give his opponent dead runs when possible. This type of hand does not envision his winding up with three aces or the A♣, 2♣, 3♣ run. Therefore at this point he will play the hand in such a manner as to try to develop these up and down color runs around the nine and eliminate his chances of developing a second halfway dead run with the aces. He will also play cards that are relatively safe, and if his opponent does take his first discard, he will have given him a so-called dead run. His throw therefore would be the A♣.

Player B – He notes that his three kings are the type of run that leave him only one opportunity to buy the fourth card rather than an up and down color run. His only other possible melds at this point are the 5’s, and the 3’s, or the 3♦, 4♦, 5♦. It is a hand that does have ample possibilities for development, especially with the amount of time normally taken to develop a gin hand. He also has the Q♠, J♣, which can be used in conjunction with his three kings. Until such time as he is faced with a problem in throwing safe cards he has a hand that can be played in a fairly aggressive manner at this particular time. He has no use for the A♣, and therefore goes to the deck and picks the 10♥. This card, at this point, would be a most unlikely throw for him. He can get by with the card, but if he does, it would be solely a matter of luck. If his opponent picks the card, he is now starting out in a most difficult situation. In the first place, he does not know what the card is being used for and would be at a loss as to what to do with any card he subsequently picks that could in any way be associated with the 10♥. In playing a gin hand, he must definitely play to have some control over his opponent’s hand. If he threw the 4♠, which is another completely useless card to him at this point, he would be in the same position. He would not know what it is being used for; he would have not control, and would be at a terrible loss should he pick up any other card that could in any way be associated with the 4♠. Not only that, but if his opponent picked it, he would not know if it were for 4’s, or whether it would be for the 3♠, 4♠, 5♠. So, he will not throw this card. Since he is playing this hand defensively because of a scoring disadvantage, he considers his two safe cards, K♣, and K♠. Once they have been played the K♦ would be a relatively safe card.

Player A – Going to the deck, he pulls a 6♦. This is an ideal combination for him and his discard is the A♥.

Player B – Picks up the Q♦. He now has extra combinations, and his K♦ has become a safe card for the following play so he throws the K♣.

Player A – Draws the 8♥. Although this card gives him a combination with the 8♣, it is not the kind of combination he is looking for. Neither does he want his opponent to take this card from him since in doing so he could tie up the other two 8’s that he is looking for in his hand and he could also tie up the 9♥. He definitely does not want to throw this card at this point. The most reasonable safe card for him to throw in view of everything played up to now is the Q♣. The king is gone so he is holding the 9. If it were to be for a club run it would be a dead run, which is the exact position he would like to have his opponent in. If it were for queens, it could only be the kind of run in which there will be one card to buy the fourth meld to rather than two. So, considering everything, the Q♣ is the proper throw.

Player B – Goes to the deck and buys the J♥. Since his opponent has already picked what appears to be a run from him, Player A now decides to play slightly more conservatively than before. He decides that his J♦ should be his throw because he considers that he has already had three 9’s instead of an up and down run. If he retains his pair of jacks and buys another jack, he would have another three-card meld which again would provide only one way to fill the run. This is not an ideal gin situation to be in, so either way, the card could give his opponent only a dead run. If it were for jacks, he has the fourth jack so he could never get more than three jacks. If it were for diamonds, it could only be in the 10, J, Q of diamonds run since the K has already been played, and he has the 9 in his hand. So throwing the J♦ is the best choice in this situation.

Player B – Picks the 8♠ from the deck and releases the J♣.

Player A – Going to the deck, he pulls the 4♥, which is a wild card. He has no choice at this point but to throw the J♥. He knows that his opponent has queens; therefore it is most unlikely that he will use the J♥ to go with the Q♥. Player A has the 8♥, so if his opponent picks the J♥ it could only be for the 9♥, 10♥, J♥. In view of the fact that player B has queens, it would be a dead run. He has nothing to lose by throwing this card.

Player B – Obtains from the deck the 9♥. Although he would now be throwing a card which is not from a pair, it is the safest card in his hand, at this point, other than his three queens. This is due to the fact that he has enough control over the card to know that it could only used by his opponent for tens and not for a heart run. There is little sense at this point in breaking his three queens. There is also no sense in increasing the number of points in his hand by breaking these queens, especially in view of the fact that his opponent will score in two games while he was on schneids. However, he does have to play with some form of aggressiveness, while he still has a chance to win his hand. Therefore, he throws the 10♥.

Player A – Draws from the deck the A♠, which he discards.

Player B – Picks from the deck the 4♣. This card is of definite help to him, but he still is not ready to give up playing his hand to win. Therefore, he throws the 9♥. His control of this card is not as great as it was on the 10♥, so if his opponent takes it, he does not know whether it is for the 9’s or whether it is for the 7♥, 8♥, 9♥ meld.

Player A – Takes the 9♥ discard, and throws what for him is a relatively dead card, the 10♠.

Player B – Going to the deck, he pulls the A♦ and discards it.

Player A – Picks from the deck a 5♥. He now has an opportunity to throw a card, which again would be a dead run for the other player, the 8♥. If he uses it for his 8’s, he obviously cannot get the fourth 8 since Player A is holding the 8♣. If he uses it for the 6♥, 7♥, and 8♥, it wouldn’t make any sense since Player A has the 9♥ tied up and also has the 5♥ in his hand.

Player B – Draws from the deck the 6♠, and in view of the previous play, he throws the 8♠.

Player A – Going to the deck, he buys the Q♥. Knowing that his opponent is holding queens, he discards the 8♣.

Player B – Picks the J♠ and since it is a safe card, discards it.

Player A – Draws the 8♦ from the deck. He now has seven melded cards and the choice of throwing either the Q♥ or 2♣. Since everything has been in his favor toward winning the hand, he does not need at this time to break up his one gin combination which is the 4♥ and 5♥. Short of picking gin he would like nothing better than to pick another 4 or 5 which will double his opportunities of ginning his hand. The A♣ has been played. The 2♣ of course could give his opponent 2♣, 3♣, and 4♣ run or three 2’s, although he doesn’t know which. Since he has no further information on his opponent’s hand at this time, other than the queens, it would not be appropriate for him to throw the Q♥ yet. If he discarded the Q♥ and his opponent took it and then he picked another 4 or 5 he would be in a terrible dilemma as to whether to throw the 2♣ or play it safe. He considers that he is better off throwing the 2♣. If his opponent takes it, he can then decide whether to throw the Q♥ in or not.

Player B – Pulls from the deck the 6♣. He has now the choice of throwing from his hand the 6♠, which would be the safest card that he can throw at this time since it would give Player A a dead run with 6’s or with spades, or even the 5♦. The 5♦ is not quite as safe a card though. It would be a dead run if it were 5’s, but it could give his opponent a four-card diamond sequence. Not giving up any opportunities to make the hand by discarding the 6♠, he throws it.

Player A – Going to the deck, he pulls the 2♦, which he throws.

Player B – Selects from the deck the 7♠. Sevens have not been played as of yet, although the card is certainly dead from the spades. Player B has learned that his opponent has been discarding cards from 8’s up and also aces and 2’s. No cards have been played by his opponent between a 3 and an 8. It is then probable that his opponent needs the 7♠. In view of his own holding, if he were to retain the 7♠ he could throw the 4♠ which is slightly safer than the 7♠ from the standpoint of spades, whereas the 7 is dead in spades. He could also throw the 5♦ which is still far from a dead card. His decision at this point has to be whether he should try to stop his opponent by playing to the wall, or play his own hand. Outside of knowing that his opponent has 9’s, he knows nothing about his hand. Player B does not have the fourth 9, so his chances of playing a wall hand and stopping his opponent are very slight. He must therefore play to win his hand, and take reasonable chances. The proper play is to throw the 7♠, and hope that his opponent does not need it.

Player A – Goes to stock and buys the 5♠. He is now completely combined, but he has to consider whether to throw in the Q♥ or not. With the score in his favor, the cost of losing the hand would be negligible compared to what he stands to gain by winning, so Player A throws in the Q♥ and takes full advantage of his opportunities to win.

Player B – Takes the Q♥ discard, since he needs seven melded in order to win his hand. He has a choice of throwing either the 5♦, or the 4♠. The cards are equally safe, so he elects to throw the 4♠.

Player A – Obtains from the deck the 7♥, which he throws.

Player B – Going to the deck, he buys the 4♦ and gins his hand.

In Summation – Player B has won this hand by playing in a manner that gave him a reasonable opportunity to win, while at the same time playing with some semblance of safety, while understanding that the odds were against him. He did not play in a purely defensive manner. If he had, he never could have won this hand. By breaking his three kings at the beginning of the hand, he was not playing to the wall, nor was he playing in what could be called an out and out defensive manner. He was playing to win, taking full advantage of the time that is allotted in the course of an average gin hand rather than trying to take advantage of whatever cards happen to fall into his hands by the luck of the deal.

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Setting Up the Typical Hands

The casual player who reads through the playing and analyses of each of the following hands is sure to gain something at each point of decision. However, in order to get the most out of the hands, there is a certain method to reading and understanding them.

At the start of each hand described, lay out both hands from a deck of cards. Before reading on, make a decision as to which card you would discard, and then compare your decision with the one described and compare your reasoning with the one that is described. Determine if your own reasoning included all of the factors that were applied in the previous articles. In this way, you will readily learn those items that have been omitted in your own analysis. This will prove particularly helpful at times of crucial decisions.

In setting up the hands, there is a consistent pattern of keeping all melded cards in sets to the left of the hand and unrelated cards starting with the highest card to the left on down to the lowest ranking card. However, it must be remembered that a good player does not follow a set pattern of holding his cards because if he does his opponent can more easily read the hand by noticing where the discards are taken from or where cards are placed when picked.

For example, if you always follow a set pattern and your opponent notes that you discarded a King from your hand, and this was the fourth card from the left, he will automatically note that you have three melded cards. If he noted that you discarded the seventh card from the left, and this is a relatively high card, he will automatically note that you have six melded cards. It is, therefore, necessary to continuously change the manner in which you hold your hand.

For clarity’s sake, the cards are arranged so that the unrelated cards are at the extreme right, and where possible, red cards are next to black cards and not matching in suits. This will prevent you from accidentally misreading a two-card sequence, such as the 5♠ and the 4♣ together. Where the preceding numerical value is of the same suit as the higher cards, such as the 5♠, and 4♠, we have put them together so that there will be no chance of overlooking a potential meld. The only exceptions that we make in these illustrations of following a sequence of melds to the left and then unrelated cards are in cases where we also hold combinations that can be used in conjunction with a meld. For example, if we have a meld of 7♠, 8♠, and 9♠, and we are also holding the 7♦, 8♦, and the 8♥ where any one of six cards would give us two melds in conjunction with the original meld, we will hold these combinations together.

In each of the hands, player B is the dealer, so play accordingly. Take this time to really study the hands and see if you would have made the same choice as both of the experts.

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Typical Hands and How They Are Played

One of the things that makes gin rummy the most interesting card game of all is the fact that there is no such thing as normal play of any given hand. Every gin player is an individual. Every one of us has his or her own pattern, his own way of living, and this is generally followed in his play of a given gin hand. There is never going to be two gin players who play identical hands in an identical manner.

At a time of decision, if you had the opportunity to stop and ask a half dozen players what particular play they would make at this point, you would undoubtedly get a half dozen different answers. This is really what separates the beginner, the average good player, and the expert from one another. Each one will come to a different decision, and each one will have probably good sound reasons for his or her play. Basically though, only one of these reasons is correct. The player who has the ability to take all the various determining factors into consideration and make the one proper decision at each moment of decision in a game is the expert player.

The next few articles are specific examples of gin hands under actual game conditions as played by two expert players. The card-by-card play runs from the deal to the completion of the hand. In all the hands the reasoning behind each play is given. Do not think that you have to spend too much time analyzing in full each play that you will make in every hand. Most of the points covered in these analyses will come to you automatically as your game develops, and you become more experienced.

Within a reasonable period of time, each of these basic factors will be so thoroughly imbedded in your mind that you will require on a second or two to decide your play. At crucial points however, do not hesitate to take as much time as you need to fully analyze the pertinent facts and reach the right decision. There are no premiums for impulsiveness. Consider that the complete analyses given here are in a reality a slow motion picture of how the expert’s mind works during play. The more factors you cover in coming to your decision, the more correct your decision is likely to be. Since there is an element of luck in gin, the correct decision in every case is not always the winning decision. However, by coming to the correct decision and making the correct play in every case, you will find yourself winning the vast majority of your hands, which is all the expert player hopes for.