You already know the Gin-Rummy Rules and played many free or even money online gin games at with different opponents. Now you would like to understand and fully comprehend the Gin-Rummy game details, strategies and intricacies to improve your play and defeat those opponent who usually did the same with you. First you can learn the Basic Gin Rummy strategy and Easy gin playing tips and then broaden your understanding of Gin strategy nuances. While playing for relaxation you can select different strategy types, mostly offensive, but if you want to win in money games or in tournaments you should pay attention to every nuance of the game, remember and analyse all cards, the possibilities of their use in opponent's hand, build you own strategy for each hand. So the money games are much more defensive. The main strategy for a general gin hand is an early knock (not for all hands in Oklahoma Gin), so we describe the stages of the game below, according to this playing tactic.

The Upcard

If you have a first choice as a Pone (non-dealer) player and the upcard matches two or more cards in your hand you must take it. Why? If you do not and your opponent takes it, you will have at least two cards in your hand that you cannot dispose immediately until you find which way that upcard being used. Pass only if you have almost all cards in melds or in potential melds and you have no convenient discard after take.

Example: the upcard is S7. It matches your S6 and C7. Take this card, because it affords you to wait for S5 and S8 and to H7 and D7, you discard the Jack, which would have been a normal initial discard. If you do not pick the upcard, but you opponent does you stuck with S6, C8, and S0

Another tip for the first choice of upcard - if Ace is dealt, take it - almost regardless of your hand. First of all - it is a point-saving card, that can help you to collect 3 or 4 deadwood cards adding 10 point or less. The other important point of taking an Ace is keeping it from your opponent, who may even need it as a reducer for an immediate knock. Remember, that if you "pass" the upcard, you let your opponent get it for free and not to spend a turn for it, outstripping you on a half-move. The same rule can be applied to Deuces. Of course, 2 is twice as big as an Ace, but also can become a part of 3 or 4 deadwood cards for 10 or less points. Of course your entire hand guides you in your decision, do you have a good discard, what are your melds and what are your small cards. As for Trey as upcard, you must take it only if it matches 2-more cards directly as shown above, or in combination like 3,3,5, or it gives you a 10 or less point combination from 4 deadwood cards

Sometimes the upcard looks very attractive for your hand, but if it does not meet criteria of 2-card matching, you need to score the chances of getting the better card.

Example: the upcard is H7. Though it is a good central card, taking it gives less chance to knock quickly. First of all your opponent hardly discard D7 or H8 after that. You also have already 4 deadwood small cards for 10 points (A,2,2,5) and thus do not have the proper discard. You can catch 9s and discard 10s for the set, or you can catch 8s or Jacks of Hearts or Clubs for the sequence and discard 10 or 9, that not in the run. Then you can catch a card to the triangle 5,6,6 and knock. It is even a good hand to get gin and your opponent will not make a lot on early knock. So that in this example it is better not to take the upcard.

Knock early

It is already stated before, the main general tactics in Gin-Rummy is an early knock. Knock as soon as possible to limit your opponent from developing their hand. With some rare exceptions you should not go for gin. Knock before your opponent does, you may be undercut, but in general this tactics is winning on the big number of hands (please note, for Oklahoma Gin, depending on the upcard, you will have to play for gin more, than in standard Gin-Rummy). Sometimes only one draw is necessary to change the hand from a 30-more points loss to a 30 points won.

Example: In the middle of the game you hold the left hand, your opponent holds the right hand. You draw DJ, that makes 2 melds and a good future gin possibility on 2,2,3,3 spreads. But knock for ten. If not, and you have discarded SQ, your opponent ginned and scored 35 points, instead of you scored 30 points.

To build the knocking-possible hand faster, use the "three-spread" tactics. While playing for gin in most cases you will need three normal spreads, but for 10-point standard gin you can have 2 normal melds such as 3-4 card sets or runs and the third spread collected from 3-4 low deadwood cards adding to 10 points or less. From the beginning of every hand, unless your hand is so good, that it is not necessary, try to assemble two spreads and that deadwood and you are ready to knock. If your opponent discards Ace, Deuce or Trey, grab it and dump some face card, 10 or 9, that you do not plan to use.

Example: The cards are just dealt and the upcard is D3. Take this card promptly, though it doesn't meet our criteria for upcards of matching 2 cards. But it adds a 10 point "third spread" with A,2,4, so after discarding C0, we will have a ready Queen's meld, 4-cards 10 point collection in a "third spread" and a good chance of getting one of 4 cards to 6,7,7 combination.

Again, note for the future, that this "third deadwood spread" tactic becomes less important in Oklahoma Gin with medium-low upcard values. Of course, examine all your cards, using these playing tips, if the open card has a big value, but completes a meld we should better take it, than wait for another low-value card

Example: Suppose it is very early in the hand and your opponent discarded a King. Pick up the King and discard the Ace. You are still going for this aim - three melds, but this way we build a ready legitimate King's meld, while looking for a low-cards "third spread" with Ace can be a hard way. Instead of this it is possible to catch one of 6 cards to 5,6,6,7 combination. By making this play it is not even necessary to play for the Gin hand. If you pick up a Six for example on the next play, go down for 5

Try to make runs (sequences) instead of groups (sets), because runs can have any number of cards - up to 13, but groups only four. There is also a small chance if your opponent is not a profi, that they do not keep in mind all the drawn sequence cards you have, while ranks of cards are easy to remember. And again, do not be tempted to get a 25-point gin bonus later if you can knock early.

Offensive and Defensive play

There are two opposite types of playing Gin-Rummy - offensive and defensive play, and the aim of a good Gin player is to achieve a proper balance between them. The pure offensive play consists of building up your own hand regardless opponent's moves, keeping all combinations according to the probability of completing them from the card stock. On the pure defensive play your first aim is not of building your own hand, but of trying whenever possible to discard cards, which you know or presume, your opponent cannot use. You collect this information from your own cards and from previous opponent's discards and maybe from their takes. You cannot completely stop your opponent this way, because they can take cards from the stock, but can reduce the chances. Of course, nobody uses such extravagant pure tactics in a real play, but something between them to a greater or lesser degree.

To play defensively you need to learn the safety values of discarding cards in your hand. With a general hand, not bad, but not so good, your play shifts from offensive at the game beginning to the more defensive at the game end. There is quite a small chance, that if you discard a pure wild card on the very first move, it gives your opponent a meld. But to the middle of the game these chances grow and your opponent becomes closer and closer to knock. While playing more and more cards you know opponent's hand better and play carefully. So, the first one-two moves can be played offensively to throw unwanted cards and keep your combinations and then, after figuring out the opponent's hand - from their discards and even more - from their taken cards, start playing more defensively. And of course, the better hand you have initially on the deal, the more offensively you can play.

Do not think that you can win every hand. If the dealt hand is a poor one try to minimize the possible loss first, take small cards and dump face or other big value cards, and then fight for the win. Note, that the score of the whole game also enters into decision. The closer your opponent is to winning score, the more defensive you must play.

Do not pick up a face or big value card to speculate, if only it doesn't match two or more cards in your hand and you have no better combination in your hand to draw to. Vice versa, your can draw a small open card - even if you don't make a meld with it, it can be used to build a "third spread" to knock later. Moreover, every time you pick up a small card it is one more card your opponent will have to think about - maybe correct, but maybe not.

In some hands you will see, that you cannot possibly knock, for example opponent holds a pair of cards, that you need. Be certain in this situation and play for a draw game, holding opponent's cards. Or play for gin by adding cards to your existing melds if possible, but discarding very carefully to prevent opponent's knock or gin.


You can trick you opponents into discarding a specific card you need for the sequence, discard the same value card but another suit and they probably discard your card. This works good especially on face cards. And do it as close to the hand beginning as possible, because if you wait long to throw such a card, it might match up with something in their hand. Be afraid of getting caught on the same trick. Sometimes the safe discard will not be the card, that matches this thrown card exactly, but the neighbouring card, that just not matches in rank and suit. While playing online many gin-rummy games on on you will understand the psychology of each player - try to remember their specific tactics, but mostly act accordingly your hand and already obtained information, do not rely too much on your pure conjecture, no matter how suspicious your are, avoid discarding unsafe card in this situation, if you have the better safe discard, that keeps your combinations. Anyway, this so-called "advertising" method, if used sometimes, can confuse your opponent and vary your tactics.

It is known, that you should not give opponent a card, that they can possibly use. For example if D8 has been picked up from your discard or as upcard, do not give them another Eights nor D7 or D9. However, sometimes during a play you have a card in hand, that you can probably discard, but this is a single card in your hand and no adjacent cards have been appeared in the game at all, so you can imagine nothing about using this card by your opponent. In this situation it worth to give them the known card (suspected to use) - for enlarging the existing meld, rather than a new card, that can give them a new meld - of course if you don't have the better safe choice.

If you are stuck in situation, where your opponent has picked up a card and you have only two neighbouring cards to discard (other your cards are essential for your hand), check this situation immediately, by discarding the safest card from this pair. For example, opponent picks upcard D9 and you have only free H9 and D0, test them immediately by D0 and if it is taken, the other H9 will be probably a safe discard.

It is absolutely necessary to remember all the discarded cards during a hand play. Actually while playing gin online it is possible to use some side helpful notes, but better to practice and to develop your memory to achieve this aim.

More playing tips

Play evenly. If you want to quickly discard the taken unwanted card, keep a pause to maintain the same pace on each move. This way you will not give your opponent any clues. Do not play very fast or very slow.

Change your tactics sometimes, after your opponent is accustomed to the idea, that you knock as soon as possible, find a hand, that have a good gin possibility and try to gin, to arouse a doubt as how you play.

Remember the dominant tactics of each your opponent, do they like to knock early, or do they like to go gin, or to catch you on undercut. How often do they try to gather more spreads, than it is necessary or speculate on some cards.

Play accordingly your dealt hand. If it is so good to play gin, try to gin. If it is bad, dump face cards and decrease your possible loss on the first steps. Play even on totally hopeless hands

Oklahoma Gin has a slightly different strategy with a low-value upcard. There are more gin hand in this game variation and the "third spread" may not work. Read Oklahoma strategy guide in a separate article about Oklahoma Gin.

Nobody wins all the hand, just give up the fewest points on losing hands and win more hands.


Play Gin-Rummy Online. Gin-Rummy Tournaments