Setting Up
Object of the Game
Rules of Play
Variations of Gin Rummy
Oklahoma Gin
3 or 4 Player Games





Culture & Cosmos Card Games

How to Play Gin Rummy


Gin Rummy is one of the most popular forms of Rummy, and is a variant that normally includes two players only.

Setting Up

In Gin Rummy, one regular deck of 52 cards is used (excluding Jokers). The game of Rummy is heavily centered on an individual card ranking, points based system.

Cards are ranked from Ace being the lowest, up to King which is the highest. The actual points system for the value of each card follows:

Face Cards, such as K, Q or J are worth 10 points. All regular cards are worth their face value in points, i.e. 7 = 7 points. Notably the Ace is worth 1 point.

Before the game begins, a dealer must be nominated (the dealer changes for every game). The dealer should deal 10 cards face down to each player. After this is done, the 21st card should be turned face up in the middle of the table - the discard pile. The remainder of the deck should be placed face down beside it to form the stock.

Players are then allowed to look at their own cards and put them in order.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to form a hand with the most sets and runs. The winner will have the lowest value of remaining cards (those not formed in sets or runs).

A run or sequence, consists of three of more cards of the same suit in sequential order, i.e.  4, 5, 5.

A set or group of cards, must be three or more cards of the same value/rank, i.e.  6, 6, 6.

No card can be used in more than one combination at a time - that is, you cannot for example use the same card in both a set AND a sequence. It should also be noted here that the Ace is always low, and cannot be used in QKA for example.

Rules of Play

After play has begun, each player has two choices, before play moves to the other person.


A player who draws must begin his turn by taking one card from either the top of stock pile, or the top of the discard pile, and then add it to his/her hand. The advantage of taking from the discard pile is that it is face up, and players can see what it is they are picking up before actually doing so. The stock pile on the other hand, is face down; thus you cannot know which card you have picked up until you are committed to it. If you draw from the stock, you should not allow the other player to see your card.


If a player wishes, he may remove one card from his/her hand and place it on the top of the discard pile face up. If you already took a top card from the discard pile in your draw, then you must put back or discard a different one then what you just picked up.

In order to begin the game, the first hand of the game has must be drawn in a special manner.
The person who did not deal begins the game by choosing whether to take the turned-up card. If the non-dealer declines it, the dealer may take the card. However, if both players refuse the turned up card, the non-dealer draws the top card from the stock pile. Whoever takes the first card completes their turn by discarding another, thus play then carries on naturally (as stated above).


Another way to end your turn is by forming a combination of sets or runs. After drawing a card, if you can make a set or sequence, you can do so during your turn. This is done by discarding one card facedown onto the discard pile and exposing your whole hand, arranging it into as many set or sequences as possible - with as little value remaining cards left over (called unmatched cards or "deadwood"). Notably, the total value of your unmatched cards or deadwood must be 10 points or less. Ending the play this way is known as knocking. Knocking without any unmatched cards or deadwood is called "going gin", and earns the player a special bonus.
Any player who meets these requirements (not more than 10 deadwood) can knock on any turn (including the first). It is important to note a player is never forced to knock - even if he is able to. Instead, the player may choose to carry on playing in order to get a better score.

The opposition player who was knocked, must spread his/her cards face-up, arranging them into as many sets or runs as possible. So long as the knocker did not go gin, the opponent can also lay off any deadwood cards by using them to create more sets/runs created by the knocker. This can be done by adding a fourth card to any existing sets - such as adding 4 to A23. If however, the opposing play does go gin, the opponent is not allowed to lay off any cards. It should also be noted the knocker cannot lay his/her cards on the opponent's sets/runs.

Another way for the play to end is if the stockpile is reduced to two cards. If this happens, the player who took the third last card must discard without knocking. If this is the case, the hand is cancelled and the dealer must deal again i.e. there is no score counted in this situation.

In some Gin Rummy games, the player after the other player took the third last stock discard, is allowed to take this discard in order to make gin or knock after discarding a different card. If however, this player does neither of these than the hand will duly be cancelled.


At the end of the hand, each player counts the total value (points) of their unmatched deadwood cards. If the knocker's count is lower, the knocker scores the difference between the two players' counts. If the knocker did not go gin however, and the counts are both equal, or the knocker's count is greater than the opponents - then the knocker has been undercut. If this happens, the knocker's opponent scores the difference between the counts PLUS a 10 point bonus.

Any player who goes gin also scores a bonus of 20 points plus the opponent's count in unmatched cards (if any). Notably, a player who goes gin can't be undercut. Even if the other player has used all his cards to make sets/runs (i.e. has no unmatched cards), then the knocker gets the 20 point bonus and the other players scores zero.

The game will keep continuing with more deals until one player's cumulative score reaches 100 or more points. This player will then receive an additional bonus of 100 points. If, however, the opposition fails to score anything during the game, then the winner's bonus is 200 rather than 100 points.

As well as this, each player should add another 20 points to their overall score for each hand won - this is known as the line bonus or box bonus. (Note: these additional points can't be counted as part of the 100 needed to win the game). After the bonuses have been summed up, the player with the lower score pays the player with the higher score an amount proportional to the different between the two scores.

Variations of Gin Rummy

Notably, some players use different rules during Gin Rummy games and there are alternate instructions and variable rules that are commonly player. For example, some players start the game different; where the non-dealer receives 11 cards to start with, while the dealer stays with 10. With no card turned up, the non-dealer's first turn is just to discard a card. After this, the dealer can take a normal turn, drawing the discard or from the stock pile as usual, and play continues thusly.

Another point for discussion is where a player can take a previous player's discard and then discard the very same card himself in the same turn. Indeed, it is difficult to see where it wold be advantageous to do so, however the Gin Rummy Association Rules do explicitly mention this is allowed.

The Game Colony Rules on the other hand only allow this in a specific situation, with "action on the 50th card". That is, when a player takes the third last card of the stock and discards this (without knocking), thus leaving two cards left in the stock - the other player has a final chance to take the discard and knock. However in the same position this picked up discared card can indeed be discarded if it doesn't improve his hand. The player simply put is back on the pile to knock.

Other variations in the game suggest that the bonus for going gin is 25 rather than 20, and that the bonus for an undercut is 20 rather than 10. Some ardent players even suggest the bonus for all 3 is 25 points. Also, some people claim that if the loser failed to scored during the whole game, then the winner's entire score is doubled rather than just awarding 200 points from an original 100.

Other gin rummy rules can be browsed online or researched, however the ones mentioned above are by far the most widely used and enjoyed.

Oklahoma Gin

Oklahoma Gin provides its own set of rules and instructions in its own right.

In this popular version of the game, the target score for winning Oklahoma Gin is normally set a 150 rather than 100. As well as this, the value of the original face up card determines the maximum count of unmatched cars that it is possible to knock. This means that even if a seven if turned up, in order to knock it you have to reduce your own count to 7 or less. (Note picture cards are still worth 10 points as usual).

Other distinguishing rules include that if the original face up card is a spade, then the final score for that deal, including any undercut or gin bonuses, is doubled. Some also play that if an ace is turned up, you can only knock it if you go gin.

One final alteration is that any player that undercuts the knocker scores an extra box in addition to the undercut bonus. A player who goes gin scores two extra boxes. Note that these extra boxes are recorded on the score pad and do not count towards winning the game. Instead, at the end of the game they are transcribed into 20 or 25 points each, along with the normal boxes for hands won. If, by chance, the up-card was a spade, you also get two extra boxes for an undercut and four boxes for going gin.

3 or 4 Player Games

Gin Rummy can also be played with three or four players, however this also requires a slight adjustment of regular Gin Rummy rules.
When three people play gin rummy, the dealer deals to the other two players without including himself. The loser of each hand than deals the next.

Four people can play gin rummy in teams, or as partnerships. In this scenario, each player in the team plays a separate game with one of the opposing pair. Players alternate opponents throughout the same game, while staying in the same teams however. At the end of each hand, if both players on the same team have won, then the team earns maximum points. If one player from each team wins; the team who scores highest overall wins the difference. The game is played until one of the teams reaches a cumulative score of 125 points or more.




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Last Updated on: April 21, 1999
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