Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
To PBS Hollywood Presents
Gin Game HomeInterviewsAbout the ShowRemembering...How to Play GinGlossary
Hands holding cards
Weller's hands dealing cards

Basic Rules of the Game

The Game: Gin rummy is a two-player card game using a standard 52-card deck. Players continue to draw and discard until one player "knocks" or "goes gin."

Draw pile    Discard pile

Draw pile


Discard pile

Dealer's cards    Non-dealer's cards

Dealer's cards


Non-dealer's cards



Brief History of Gin
Lots of stories are told about the beginnings of gin rummy. Most credit Elwood Baker of the Knickerbocker Whist Club in NYC with introducing the game around 1910. He certainly helped to make gin more riveting by rationalizing the scoring process and making it easier to play for money.
Gin rummy entered American popular culture in the 1930s, as it became a game of choice for Broadway and Hollywood stars and was a featured pastime in many movies.

The Goal: When one player reaches the agreed-upon number of points, the game ends and is scored. Points are made by arranging as many as possible of the ten cards in a hand into melds before your opponent can do the same.

Starting: Each player is dealt ten cards alternately. The non-dealer is dealt one extra card. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the table. The non-dealer selects a card from his hand and places it face up next to the deck, creating the discard pile. A knock card is pulled from a second deck of cards. Players draw one card when it's their turn from either the deck or the discard pile to create melds, followed by the discard of one card. Play continues until someone is able to knock or has gin.

Gin hand

A "gin" hand

Meld: either a sequence or a set.
Sequences: a group of three or more cards of the same suit in consecutive order, such as 2-3-4 of hearts, or 9-10-J-Q of spades.
Sets: a group of three or four cards of the same rank, such as 5-5-5 or A-A-A-A.

Knocking: A player may knock, after having drawn a card, when the total point value of cards not incorporated into melds (i.e. the unmatched cards) is no more than the value of the knock card. The intended discard is not counted. The knocking player places his cards face up on the table arranged into melds and unmatched cards. The opponent also places his cards face up and tries to layoff all the unmatched cards against the knocker's melds. The hand is now over and counting begins.

A player who is able to knock does not have to knock. He may instead choose to continue playing and try for gin or a lower total point count.

Scoring: After knocking, each player counts the total point value of his or her unmatched cards. If the knocker's count is lower, the knocker earns the difference between the counts. If the opponent's count is the same or lower, the knocker is undercut, and the opponent earns the difference between the counts. Knocking with no unmatched cards is called gin (and earns a bonus.)

Ending: The game ends as a player reaches the agreed upon number of points.


Layoff: getting rid of unmatched cards by integrating them into an opponent's sequences or sets so that they are not counted.

Cool Links

The rules are far more intricate than outlined above. The following sites offer all sorts of rule, strategy and scoring refinements, plus a glossary of key gin terms. Gin Rummy Rules Rules of Card Games: Gin Rummy

Yahoo Games





About the Show


How to Play Gin


Site Map


Copyright © 2003 Community Television of Southern California (KCET). All rights reserved.