Back when the Internet was unheard of, you probably wonder what people were doing to while away the time. Well, aside from baseball, folks play card games, one of which is Gin Rummy. As you probably notice, the name of the card game says something about yet another favorite pastime, drinking. The card game for two was invented by Elwood T. Baker in 1909 and became popular since then. While you might think it’s an ancient game, it is actually a later comer that tried to compete with even more popular games such as Cribbage and Pinoche; both of which were games that go way back as early as 400 years ago. Gin Rummy is closely linked to a genre of card game known as Rummy, where the method that is being used is the “draw and discard”. This means that at every turn, you draw a card from the pile and discard the unwanted card in exchange. The idea is to form sets of matching cards. The match can be 3 or 4 cards of the same rank or same suit in sequence. With such easy to understand rules, it’s no wonder that the game had a loyal following; and it even garnered notoriety for being such an addictive game.
Following the general rules of Rummy, Gin Rummy version is as easy as pie. It starts with each player receiving 10 cards. The standard deck of 52 cards is ranked as follows: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Jack, Queen, and King. Each of the cards has corresponding values. The face cards are 10 points each and the Ace is 1 point. Other cards are worth their index values. The 21st card is turned face up to start the discard pile and the rest will be faced down which constitute the stockpile. The object of the game is to collect a hand that can be combined into sets of 3 or more cards having the same suit in sequence. The unmatched card (or deadwood) you have should be discarded, and those that remain in your hand should have low point values.
In Gin Rummy, every player’s turn consists of “The Draw” and “The Discard”. When you draw a card from the stockpile, you add it to your hand and check if it can form a match. If not, you can have the option to take it and drop a higher value unmatched card in your hand, or just discard it outright. You can choose to end the play during your turn by if you are able to form your cards into valid sets and runs. To signal your opponent, you have to discard one card face down and expose your whole hand, arranged in the valid combinations. Your unmatched cards should also total 10 points or less. This process is called “MPO777“. If you have no deadwood cards when you knock, it is known as “going gin”. This earns you special bonus points. The game ends when the stockpile is down to two cards and the player can either knock or go gin. The player who reaches 100 points first, wins the game.
The trick in Gin Rummy is to observe the cards that your opponent is drawing and discards. If you know when your opponent has a better hand, you can pay him off. If you know when your opponent is drawing a card of a certain suit, you can have a better luck with a simple trick. You can either knock with the hand you have or go gin with a low value unmatched card to try and make your opponent think that you have a better hand than you actually do. You can also use tricks such as forcing your opponent to discard a card that would have made a better hand for you if you had not knocked. This prevents your opponent from reaching the score limit by knocking as well.
Once you know when your opponent is drawing better cards, you can take advantage of this by using knockback. You can knock your opponent with low value cards that can bypass his discount card and go directly to the discard pile. This way, you can shortcut the game and not waste cards that would have made good hands. To make your opponent discard, you must first send one of your cards to the discard pile, then pick up your hand and rearrange it so that it is now composed of no more than 3 cards. This guarantees that your opponent will be forced to discard cards that can improve your hand.
When you know when your opponent is drawing the cards that can replace your missing pair, you can set a trap. By making it look like you are really strong, you can encourage your opponent to discard cards that can better your pair. Of course, you do this in moderation, since opponents can be observant as well, and they might concoct a mixed story about their hand and what really happened.