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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

How to Play Gin Rummy

Known familiarly as gin, this classic, two-player card game provides an exciting mixture of luck and strategy.

Setup and Overview

  1. Deal 10 cards each to the other player and yourself.

  2. Place the remaining cards in a stack between the two players.

  3. Organize your hand into complete or partial "melds." A meld is a set of three or four cards of the same value (three aces, four kings and so on) or three or more sequential cards of the same suit (five, six and seven of clubs, for example).

  4. Take turns with the other player, taking either the top card from the deck or from the discard pile and discarding to the discard pile.

  5. Award points at the end of each hand when one player knocks or calls "Gin."

  6. End the game when one player reaches 100 points. At this point, the player with 100 points gets a 100-point bonus for winning, and each player receives 25 points for each hand he or she won.

  7. Tally the points and declare the winner - the player with the most points after all bonuses have been added in.

The Turn

  1. Draw a card from either the deck or the discard pile. If you're making the first draw of the game, you may only take from the deck.

  2. Try to integrate your drawn card into one of the melds you're building.

  3. Select a card from your hand that isn't now and probably won't become part of a meld.

  4. Discard this card face-up on the discard pile.

Discard cards of high value to decrease your "deadwood." Deadwood is the total point value of all your cards that aren't part of melds. Face cards are each worth 10 points, aces are each worth 1 point and the other cards have point values equal to their numerical values.


  1. Knock when you have fewer than 10 points in deadwood by knocking on the table and laying down your hand face-up.

  2. Add up your total deadwood.

  3. Have your opponent lay down his or her hand.

  4. Separate your opponent's deadwood from his or her complete melds.

  5. Remove from your opponent's deadwood any cards that can be integrated into any of your complete melds.

  6. Add up your opponent's total remaining deadwood.

  7. Subtract your deadwood from your opponent's deadwood.

  8. Record this difference as your score for this hand.

  9. Gather the cards, shuffle them and deal a new hand.

If you have 0 points of deadwood, you may call "Gin" and lay your hand down. In this case, you score a 25-point bonus in addition to the points you would normally receive for your opponent's deadwood.

If you knock and your opponent has less deadwood than you, you score no points. Instead, your opponent scores a number of points equal to the difference between his deadwood and yours, as well as a 25-point bonus. This is called "undercutting."

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