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Card Games: Gin Rummy Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 in Culture, English Vocabulary

Gin Rummy is one of the most popular forms of Rummy.  Rummy is a very popular type of card game in the United States.  Gin Rummy is generally played with just two players, each receiving ten cards, but it can be played with up to four players with one deck of cards.  If this game is played with more than two players then the number of cards dealt to each player is changed slightly depending on how many people are playing or more decks of cards are added.


When Gin Rummy is played with two people each player is dealt ten cards, one at a time. The twenty-first card is turned face up to start the discard pile (where players throw away cards they don’t want) and the remainder of the deck is placed face down beside the discard pile to form the stock pile (where players get new cards from). After the cards are dealt the players look at and sort their ten cards, but do not show their cards to each other.

The object of the game is to collect a hand where all of the cards can be combined into “runs” and “books” and the point value of any remaining unmatched cards in one’s hand 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 8, 9, 10, J.
A book (or set) is three or four cards of the same number or letter, such as 2, 2, 2.

In this game 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.  Also, in Gin Rummy the Ace card is always low as in a run of A-2-3 (it cannot be used in a run of A-K-Q).

Taking your turn in Gin Rummy 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 of 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 decided to take it.
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.

A player wins a game of Gin Rummy by being the first person to play all his or her ten cards by either laying them down on the table in runs or books of one’s own, playing cards off the other player’s books or runs, and discarding one last card.  (The picture at the top of this post is of a complete Gin Rummy hand including the person’s last discard the Jack of Diamonds.)  Once a player has “gone out” by playing all his or her cards down and discarding the last card, the game is over.  The other player can not lay down any more cards of discard any of his or her cards even if he or she has a valid combinations already in his or her hand.  In this game you do not want to end up with many cards in your hand so you want to lay down books and runs on the table as soon as you can.

This game gets its name from a special move that involves a player placing down all the cards in his or her hand in one turn and going out.  In other words, the player puts down ten cards in some order of books and runs and discards his or her last card all in one turn!  When this happens the person says “rummy” and this player get to count all the points in the other players hand for them self, twice!

At the end of the hand, each player adds up the points of the cards remaining in his or her hand as follows:

Everyone counts up the number of points they have for the cards that have been laid down on the table.  Then the total value of all cards remaining in the hand of the player who did not win is added to the score of the winning player.   The game continues with further rounds of the same thing until someone reaches a previously agreed upon target point goal (100 points is usually the goal).

There are many, many variations of the game Rummy, Gin Rummy is just on variation.  In different variations there are different rules and points are counted differently.  When I play Gin Rummy all cards numbered 7 and under are worth 5 points, all cards numbered 8 and over (including face cards) are worth 10 points, and the Ace is worth 15 points.  Some people have different rules for counting points, but the basic rules of the game Gin Rummy described above remain the same.

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About the Author:Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Denny:

    There is variation between 13 cards rummy and Gin Rummy

  2. venila:

    Nice blog!

  3. Ronit:

    Your post about card games is very informative. It has cleared my all doubts regarding variations.


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