“You can call up any insane asylum, get any patient on the telephone and learn Gin Rummy in no time, as all lunatics are bound to be Gin players, and in fact the chances are it is Gin Rummy that makes them lunatics" - Damon Runyon (1944).
According to the U.S. Playing Card Co. of Cincinnati, nearly 27 million play Gin Rummy.
Legends of Gin Rummy
Elwood T. Baker
In 1909 Elwood Baker of New York invented the game of Gin Rummy. Initially called just Gin, whilst teacher Elwood and his son named the game after their liking for the tipple.
Hardy was a notorious Gin Rummy player and played at the Burbank Lakeside Country Club. Unfortunately his gin skills were not a laughing matter and the Club Committee infamously persuaded him to stay away from the card room after losing thousands.
Stu "The Kid" Ungar
Poker Champion Ungar had a photographic memory and infamously beat Harry Stein, the world's best gin rummy player, 86 times in a row playing high stakes gin. Stein never played seriously again. He only took up poker because nobody would play him at gin. "I don't see how anyone could ever play gin better than me."
Hainline is president of the Gin Rummy Association and has won over 25 gin-rummy tournaments. He is one of a handful of players who can claim a positive score against Stu Ungar. "Sometimes a sucker can end up with all the money in a poker game. In gin, the good players tend to separate themselves from the field pretty quickly."
In 1995 Ingram beat 85 opponents to win the International Gin Rummy Tournament of Champions. The tournament lasted three days and after over 10,000 hands of gin the $100,000 winner's prize made it the richest gin game in history.
Gin Rummy Tactics
Watch out for mother's ruin
Don't start the game planning to go for gin. The 25 points bonus is often not sufficient to make up for the number of losses when you could and should have knock instead of waiting for a gin hand. Typically a game ends about 50% of the way through the dealing deck of cards so keep this in mind if you have a chance to launch a knocking hand.
Information is power
Always draw a card from the closed deck whenever possible. Your opponent is observing all your actions, as you are theirs, and they can only use the available information. It is harder for your opponent to know your hand strategy if you use less cards from the open pile, cards clearly seen by your opponent.
It is good practice to discard high cards instead of low ones early on. This approach will minimise your deadwood should you not win the hand. Also, assuming your opponent will adopt a similar approach, keeping high pairs and two card runs formed early in the game can often pick up lucrative discards.
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