The Rules Of Gin Rummy

Card Game Rules Gin Rummy or Gin is a traditional card matching game that requires 2 players and a standard 52 playing card deck with Kings high and Aces low. In Gin Rummy, cards are worth their numerical value with Aces worth 1 and face cards worth 10. The objective of Gin Rummy is to be the first to reach 100 points.

Gin Rummy Rules

Gin Rummy is probably the best-known Rummy game. It is a two-player game that reached its peak of popularity during World War II, when it became a national fad, famous as the game for movie stars and Hollywood players. (See also: Gin Rummy Glossary.)

Number of Players: 2 (for more than 2 players, see Gin Rummy for Three Players and Partnership Gin Rummy)

Number of Cards: 52 (standard deck of cards, with no jokers)

Rank of Cards: K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-A (king is high, ace is low)

  1. In Grand Gin Rummy, you also get 15 bonus points just for winning a hand. This makes the game move a little quicker. If you match 10 out of 11 cards after the draw phase, you've achieved gin and you will receive 25 bonus points.
  2. The object in gin rummy game is to collect sets of 3 or more cards that ‘go together’. Such matching collections of cards are called melds.The melds either have to be of the same rank, like all sevens, or forming a sequence of the same suit – like 7,8,9 of hearts.

Value of Cards: Face cards (K-Q-J) count 10 point each; ace counts 1 point; all other cards count their face value (e.g. a six of diamonds counts for 6 points).

Starting a Match: To determine who deals first, the deck is shuffled, and each player draws a card. The player drawing the highest card (for purposes of the draw, suits rank spades high, hearts, diamonds, and clubs) has the choice of seats, and decides who deals first.

Shuffling & Cutting the Deck: Either player may shuffle the deck, but the dealer has the right of last shuffle. The non-dealer must cut the pack.

Dealing: The dealer distributes the cards, one at a time, face down, first to his opponent and then to himself, until each player has ten cards. The next card, called the upcard, is placed face-up in the center of the table. The remainder of the deck if placed face-down next to the upcard, and forms the stock.

Object of the Game: The object of the game is to form melds (or matched sets), which are three or four cards of a single rank (5-5-5, for example), or a run of three or more cards of consecutive rank in the same suit (4-5-6 of clubs, for example).

Gameplay: On the first upcard, the non-dealer must decide whether or not to take the exposed card. If the non-dealer does not want the card, he must say as much, and the dealer then has the opportunity to take the upcard. If he passes on it as well, then the non-dealer draws the top card of the stock, and play proceeds.

Each player's turn begins by drawing a card, either the upcard (the top of the discard pile, or the top card of the stock.

Each player's turn ends by discarding one card (placed face-up on the discard pile). If a player draws the upcard, he may not discard it during the same turn.

Knocking: When a player will hold less than than 10 points of deadwood (cards not part of a meld) after discarding, he may knock (though he is not required to knock). Knocking signals the end of a hand. For example, a player holding the following hand may knock:

In this example,the player holds two melds (the 7-7-7, and the J-Q-K of spades), along with 13 points of un-melded cards. If he discards the 5 of spades, he'll have 8 points of deadwood, and may therefore knock.

When knocking, a player places his final card face-down on the discard pile, then spreads his hand, arranged into melds and deadwood.

His opponent then lays down his own hand, laying off any melds, as well as any cards that connect with the knocker's melds. For example, if the opponent holds the following cards:

The opponent would have one meld (the K-K-K), would be able to lay off the 10 of spades (which connect to the knocker's J-Q-K of spades, and have 32 points of deadwood (10+8+6+5+2+1).

ScoringOnline casino invaders from the planet moolah. : Scoring for each hand is based on the deadwood difference between the two hands. In the example above, the knocker has 8 points of deadwood, and his opponent has 32 points of deadwood. Therefore the knocker scores 24 points.

If, however, the opponent had more melds, and had been able to lay off more points, he may have ended up with fewer points of deadwood than the knocker. This is referred to as an undercut, and earns the undercutter a bonus. For example, if the opponent had ended up with 6 points of deadwood, he would have earned the difference in the two hands (2 points), plus an undercut bonus of 25 points, for a total of 27 points.

The knocker may also earn a bonus. If the knocker ends up with zero points of deadwood, he has gin, for which he earns a 25 point bonus.

A running score is kept for each player. In addition the winner of each hand is designated by drawing a lines beneath his score.

The winner of a hand deals the next hand.

Game: A game (consisting of a number of hands) is played to 100 points. The player who first reaches 100 or more points wins the game, and scores a 100 point game bonus for doing so. If his opponent has not won any hands during the game, he scores an additional 100 point shutout bonus. Each player is then given 25 points for each hand they won during the game (this is called the box bonus or line bonus).

Each player's total score is then calculated (games points plus game and shutout bonuses, plus line bonuses). The winner earns the difference between his total scoreand that of his opponent.

Match: Gin Rummy is often played as a match, consisting of a number of games. A match is typically played to 500 points, though the match total may be any mutually agreed-upon number.


  • The last two cards of the stock may not be drawn. If neither player is able to knock after the fiftieth card is drawn, the game ends in a draw (no score for either player), and the same dealer deals again.

  • Wrong Dealer - If the wrong player deals, the opponent may stop the deal if he catches it before the upcard is turned. If the upcard has been dealt, then the deal stands.

  • Faced Cards - If, before the upcard is turned, a face-up card is found in the deck, or if any card is exposed in dealing, there must be a new deal by the same dealer.

  • Irregular Hands - If either player ends up with an incorrect number of cards, and this is discovered before the player makes his first drawn, there must be a new deal. If the error is discovered after his first draw, and both players have incorrect hands, there must be a new deal. If one player's hand is correct and the other not,then the player holding the correct hand gets to decide whether ornot to demand a redeal. If he decides to continue playing, the player with the incorrect hand must correct his hand by drawing cards without discarding, or discarding without drawing. He may not knock during until his next turn.

    If an incorrect number of cards is not discovered until a hand is completed, a player with too few cards is penalized 10 points for each missing card, and is not eligable for a gin or undercut bonus. If a player has too many cards, there is no point penalty, but the offender may not claim an undercut bonus, and may not win the hand

  • Premature Play - If a player draws a card out of turn - before his opponent discards, or before the dealer has refused a passed upcard - the play stands. There is no penalty, but the offender must accept the card he has drawn out of turn.

  • Illegally Seeing a Card - If a player drawing in turn sees any card to which he is not entitled, every such card must be placedface up next to the discard pile. The offender may not knock until his next turn to play, unless be is gin. The non-offender has the right to take any of the exposed cards until he draws from the stock; then the offender has the same right to take any of the exposed cards until he draws from the stock. Once each player has drawn from the stock, the exposed cards are placed in the discard pile.

    If a player drawing out of turn sees a card to which he is not entitled, the rule given in the preceding paragraph applies,except that the offender may never take such cards, but may draw only his opponent’s discard or the top card of the stock in each turn.

  • Illegal Knock - If a player knocks with a count higher than the knock count (10 in standard Gin Rummy), but his opponent has not exposed any cards before the error is discovered, the offender must leave his band face up on the table until his opponent has completed his next play. However, If the knocker’s hand is illegal only with respect to the count of his unmatched cards, his opponent may accept the illegal knock aslegal (and undercut it).

    If the knocker has more than 10 points, and the error is discovered after the opponent has exposed any of his own cardsbut before he has laid off any cards, the opponent may choose to either force the knocker to play the rest of the hand with all his cards exposed, or to permit the offender to pick up his hand, in which case the offender is not entitled to an undercut or gin bonus for that hand.

  • Looking at Discard - The general rule is that a player who looks back at a covered discard loses his right to his next draw.However, players may agree in advance that looking back at discards will be permitted.

  • Wrong Card Discarded - If a player discards the wrong card when knocking, he may not retrieve it. If the resulting knock is improper, see Illegal Knock.

Gin Rummy Variations

  • Doubling Gin (Open Gin)
  • Gin Rummy for Three Players (Cutthroat, Chouette, or Battle Royal)

Gin Rummy Strategy

  • As a general rule, draw from the discard pile only to complete or add to a set, not to form a combination (two cards that may become a set).
  • Try to put together two matched sets plus four or fewer unmatched low cards (you usually don't have time to make three sets).
  • Knock as soon as you can! You won't make Gin, but you're more likely to pick up a ton of points from your opponent's unmatched cards.
  • Success in Gin Rummy depends largely on keeping track of the discards. From this you'll know which of your own combinations are still 'alive' and you'll be able to guess which combinations your opponent is holding.
  • According to leading Gin Rummy scientists, the most useful card in this game is the 7, as it figures in more combinations than any other card. The least useful are the ace and king.
  • As in Poker, never try to 'fill an inside straight' in Gin Rummy. If for example you have a 4 and a 5, you can add to this with either of two cards, a 3 or a 6. If you have a 4 and a 6, however, you're only half as likely to run across a 5.

Other Gin Rummy Rule Resources

What Are The Rules To Play Gin Rummy

  • Gin Rummy Rules and Objectives by Robert Power

See Also: Play Gin Rummy Online

Additional Information

This page is based on a contribution from Magnus, with additional material from John McLeod.


Gin Rummy is one of the most popular forms of rummy. The game is generally played by two players, each receiving ten cards. Here is an article by David Parlett on the History of Gin Rummy, which was originally published on the Game Account site.

Note: I have been told that among some players the name Gin Rummy in fact refers to not to the game described below, but to the game which is called 500 Rum on this web site.

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The Deck

One standard deck of 52 cards is used. Cards in each suit rank, from low to high:

Ace 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Jack Queen King.

The cards have values as follows:

Face cards (K,Q,J)10 points
Ace1 point
Number cards are worth their spot (index) value.

The Deal

The first dealer is chosen randomly by drawing cards from the shuffled pack - the player who draws the lower card deals. Subsequently, the dealer is the loser of the previous hand (but see variations). In a serious game, both players should shuffle, the non-dealer shuffling last, and the non-dealer must then cut.

Each player is dealt ten cards, one at a time. The twenty-first card is turned face up to start the discard pile and the remainder of the deck is placed face down beside it to form the stock. The players look at and sort their cards.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to collect a hand where most or all of the cards can be combined into sets and runs and the point value of the remaining unmatched cards is low.

  • a run or sequence consists of three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive order, such as 4, 5, 6 or 7, 8, 9, 10, J.
  • a set or group is three or four cards of the same rank, such as 7, 7, 7.

A card can belong to only one combination at a time - you cannot use the same card as part of both a set of equal cards and a sequence of consecutive cards at the same time. For example if you have 7, 7,7, 8, 9 you can use the 7either to make a set of three sevens or a heart sequence, but not both at once. To form a set and a sequence you would need a sixth card - either a 7 or a 10.

Note that in Gin Rummy the Ace is always low. A-2-3 is a valid sequence but A-K-Q is not.


A normal turn consists of two parts:

  1. The Draw. You must begin by taking one card from either the top of the stock pile or the top card on the discard pile, and adding it to your hand. The discard pile is face up, so you can see in advance what you are getting. The stock is face down, so if you choose to draw from the stock you do not see the card until after you have committed yourself to take it. If you draw from the stock, you add the card to your hand without showing it to the other players.
  2. The Discard To complete your turn, one card must be discarded from your hand and placed on top of the discard pile face up. If you took the top card from the discard pile, you must discard a different card - taking the top discard and putting the same card back in the same turn is not permitted. It is however legal to discard a card that you took from the discard pile in an earlier turn.

For the first turn of the hand, the draw is done in a special way. First, the person who did not deal chooses whether to take the turned up-card. If the non-dealer declines it, the dealer may take the card. If both players refuse the turned-up card, the non-dealer draws the top card from the stock pile. Whichever player took a card completes their turn by discarding and then it is the other player's turn to play.


You can end the play at your turn if, after drawing a card, you can form sufficient of your cards into valid combinations: sets and runs. This is done by discarding one card face down on the discard pile and exposing your whole hand, arranging it as far as possible into sets (groups of equal cards) and runs (sequences). Any remaining cards from your hand which are not part of a valid combination are called unmatched cards or deadwood. and the total value of your deadwood must be 10 points or less. Ending the play in this way is known as knocking, presumably because it used to be signalled by the player knocking on the table, though nowadays it is usual just to discard face down. Knocking with no unmatched cards at all is called going gin, and earns a special bonus. (Note. Although most hands that go gin have three combinations of 4, 3 and 3 cards, it is possible and perfectly legal to go gin with two 5-card sequences.)

A player who can meet the requirement of not more than 10 deadwood can knock on any turn, including the first. A player is never forced to knock if able to, but may choose instead to carry on playing, to try to get a better score.

The opponent of the player who knocked must spread their cards face-up, arranging them into sets and runs where possible. Provided that the knocker did not go gin, the opponent is also allowed to lay off any unmatched cards by using them to extend the sets and runs laid down by the knocker - by adding a fourth card of the same rank to a group of three, or further consecutive cards of the same suit to either end of a sequence. (Note. Cards cannot be laid off on deadwood. For example if the knocker has a pair of twos as deadwood and the opponent has a third two, this cannot be laid off on the twos to make a set.)

If a player goes gin, the opponent is not allowed to lay off any cards.

Note that the knocker is never allowed to lay off cards on the opponent's sets or runs.

The play also ends if the stock pile is reduced to two cards, and the player who took the third last card discards without knocking. In this case the hand is cancelled, there is no score, and the same dealer deals again. Some play that after the player who took the third last stock card discards, the other player can take this discard for the purpose of going gin or knocking after discarding a different card, but if the other player does neither of these the hand is cancelled.


Each player counts the total value of their unmatched cards. If the knocker's count is lower, the knocker scores the difference between the two counts.

If the knocker did not go gin, and the counts are equal, or the knocker's count is greater than that of the opponent, the knocker has been undercut. In this case the knocker's opponent scores the difference between the counts plus a 10 point bonus.

A player who goes gin scores a bonus 20 points, plus the opponent's count in unmatched cards, if any. A player who goes gin can never be undercut. Even if the other player has no unmatched cards at all, the person going gingets the 20 point bonus the other player scores nothing.

The game continues with further deals until one player's cumulative score reaches100 points or more. This player then receives an additional bonus of 100 points.If the loser failed to score anything at all during the game, then the winner's bonus is 200 points rather than 100.

What Are The Rules Of Gin Rummy

In addition, each player adds a further 20 points for each hand they won. This is called the line bonus or box bonus. These additional points cannot be counted as part of the 100 needed to win the game.

After the bonuses have been added, the player with the lower score pays the player with the higher score an amount proportional to the difference between their scores.


Many books give the rule that the winner of each hand deals the next. Some play that the turn to deal alternates.

Some players begin the game differently: the non-dealer receives 11 cards and the dealer 10, and no card is turned up. The non-dealer's first turn is simply to discard a card, after which the dealer takes a normal turn, drawing the discard or from the stock, and play alternates as usual.

The Rules Of Gin Rummy

Although the traditional rules prohibit a player from taking the previous player's discard and discarding the same card, it is hard to think of a situation where it would be advantageous to do this if it were allowed. The Gin Rummy Association Rules do explicitly allow this play, but the player who originally discarded the card is then not allowed to retake it unless knocking on that turn. The Game Colony Rules allow it in one specific situation - 'action on the 50th card'. When a player takes the third last card of the stock and discards without knocking, leaving two cards in the stock, the other player has one final chance to take the discard and knock. In this position, this same card can be discarded - if it does not improve his hand, the player simply turns it over on the pile to knock.

Some people play that the bonus for going gin is 25 (rather than 20) and the bonus for an undercut is 20 (rather than 10). Some play that the bonus for an undercut, the bonus for going gin, and the box bonus for each game won are all 25 points.

Some play that if the loser failed to score during the whole game, the winner's entire score is doubled (rather than just doubling the 100 game bonus to 200).

A collection of variations submitted by readers can be found on the Gin Rummy Variations page.

What Are The Rules Of Gin Rummy

Oklahoma Gin

In this popular variation the value of the original face up card determines the maximum count of unmatched cards with which it is possible to knock. Pictures denote 10 as usual. So if a seven is turned up, in order to knock you must reduce your count to 7 or fewer.

If the original face up card is a spade, the final score for that deal (including any undercut or gin bonus) is doubled.

The target score for winning Oklahoma Gin is generally set at 150 rather than 100.

Rules Of Gin Rummy Uk

Some play that if an ace is turned up you may only knock if you can go gin.

Some play that a player who undercuts the knocker scores an extra box in addition to the undercut bonus. Also a player who goes gin scores two extra boxes. These extra boxes are recorded on the scorepad; they do not count towards winning the game, but at the end of the game they translate into 20 or 25 points each, along with the normal boxes for hands won. If the up-card was a spade, you get two extra boxes for an undercut and four extra boxes for going gin.

Playing with 3 or 4 Players.

When three people play gin rummy, the dealer deals to the other two players but does not take part in the play. The loser of each hand deals the next, which is therefore played between the winner and the dealer of the previous hand.

Four people can play as two partnerships. In this case, each player in a team plays a separate game with one of the opposing pair. Players alternate opponents, but stay in the same teams. At the end of each hand, if both players on a team won, the team scores the total of their points. If one player from each team won, the team with the higher score scores the difference. The first team whose cumulative score reaches 125 points or more wins.

Other Gin Rummy pages

The Gin Rummy Association's Gin Rummy Tournaments page has information about forthcoming Gin Rummy events, including regular live tournaments in Las Vegas, and the site includes a summary of the rules used in these tournaments.

The Gin Rummy pages of give rules for many Gin Rummy variants, plus reviews of Gin Rummy software and online games.

Several variants of Gin Rummy are described on Howard Fosdick's page (archive copy).

Gin Rummy rules are also available on the Card Games Heaven web site.

Jim from Triplesgames has provided a video introduction to Gin Rummy.

A comprehensive set of rules for Gin Rummy in German can be found on Roland Scheicher's Gin Rummy page. is a German language site offering rules for Gin Rummy and many other rummy games, plus strategy articles and reviews of online rummy sites and a forum.

Software and Servers

Gin Rummy software:

  • With DreamQuest Software's Championship Gin Pro you can play against a computer opponent. Available for Windows, Palm OS and Pocket PC.
  • Malcolm Bain's classic Gin Rummy program for Windows is available from Card Games Galore.
  • A shareware Gin Rummy program can be downloaded from Meggiesoft Games.
  • The collection HOYLE Card Games for Windows or Mac OS X includes a Gin Rummy program, along with many other popular card games.
  • The Gin Rummy Pro computer program is available from Recreasoft.
  • Special K Software has software to play the game of Gin Rummy. This software is available at
  • Best Gin Rummy by KuralSoft is a program for iOS with which you can play Gin Rummy against a computer opponent.
  • Blyts have published Gin Rummy Free in versions for iOS, Android and web browser.

Servers for playing Gin Rummy on-line:

  • Game Colony offers head to head Gin Rummy games and multi-player tournaments, which can be played free or for cash prizes.
  • AOL games (formerly / Masque publishing) offers Gin Rummy and Oklahoma Gin
  • Ludopoli (Italian language)
  • PlayOK Online Games (formerly known as Kurnik)
  • offers an online Gin Rummy game against live opponents or computer players.