What Is the Difference Between Rummy and Gin Rummy?

Woman holding her hand of cards playing rummy

The game Gin Rummy is thought to have originated in New York around 120 years ago. The objective of the game is to reach 100 points, but there are many variations of the game, including Rummy.

What is the difference between Rummy and Gin Rummy? The main differences between Rummy and Gin Rummy are:

Rummy Gin Rummy
The number of players is usually between 2 and 6. The number of players is generally between 2 and 4.
The dealer randomly picks your cards. The player selects his or her card from the shuffle.
A clockwise rotation picks the cards, and often you are playing online where there’s only one dealer. The player with the lowest value of the card will be the next dealer. 
The objective is to create a set or series of cards such as a flush or a straight. The game will last until a specific score is achieved. Similar goal but it won’t continue until a particular score is reached, it will last until someone makes a flush/straight/set.
Player has to choose from the discard pile. Player chooses the top card on the shuffled deck.
The scoring is:

Cards with faces – 10 points each

Cards with numbers – worth their number

Total is added up to create a player’s final score

The scoring is:

If you are ‘Going Gin’ – 25 points earned

There is usually a final score goal to determine the winner, often 100.

As you can see, there are plenty of differences between these two well-known rummy variations. This article explains the differences between rummy and gin rummy and how to play both games.

Note that both of these games are just as family friendly as Go Fish and Garbage (so much fun – learn to play here).

You might want to save games such as Bullshit (this article explains the basics – super easy and fun) for nights when the kids aren’t around, but rummy and gin rummy are great for adults and kids alike.

Ready to Play?

Here’s what we recommend:

How to Play Rummy

The number of cards dealt in traditional rummy will depend on how many people you are playing with.

Keep in mind that your cards will always be hidden, so the players will not see each other’s hands.

The instructions for rummy will go as follows:

  1. Shuffle multiple times to guarantee the cards are not in their original order. A card shuffling device, like this manual version with a side crank, ensures the cards are shuffled well.
  2. The cards will be dealt as follows:
    • 2 players – each gets ten cards.
    • 3 to 4 players – each gets seven cards.
    • 5 to 6 players – each gets six cards.
  3. Deal cards one at a time to each player, going in a circle. Dealing an entire hand to one person at a time will run the risk of cards being in order if under-shuffled. 
  4. The leftover deck of shuffled cards will sit in the middle. Take the card off of the top and place it to the side of the deck pile face-up. This will be the discard pile.
  5. The goal is to get rid of your cards by finding sets and runs. You can win by creating melds. A meld is a set of three to four cards with the same number and different suits or a sequence of three to five cards in the same suit. 
  6. Once you’ve started, you can grab the discard pile card or grab a new card from the deck. Every time you take a card from the deck, you add it to the discard pile face-up.
  7. As you play, if you have any melds, you will lay them down on the table to get rid of your cards. Other players can lay down their cards on your sets and runs if they want to get rid of more cards. For example, a player might lay down their three 10s and then throw their 6 on another player’s pile of 6s. This helps a player get rid of more cards. 
  8. Each player’s turn will end once they place one card in the discard pile. Continue in a clockwise direction.
  9. The player who wins will end up with zero cards by either making them into melds or discarding them.

The score in Rummy is determined by the value of the cards that have been played:

  • Aces are worth 1 point.
  • Card numbers 2-10 are worth their numerical value.
  • Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth 10 points each.

After the game is won, you will add up the points that each player has, and those points are given to the winner. That winner gets to be the dealer in the next round. 

If you can lay out all your cards in a meld or get rid of all your cards in one turn – this is called ‘Going Rummy.’

Going rummy gives you double points for each card that you play on an opponent’s cards. 

A meld may not be removed from the table once you’ve already laid it down; it is final. You don’t have to lay it down if you don’t want to, and you can hold onto your cards to try to ‘Go Rummy.’

Tip: To prevent cramped hands and dropped cards, provide each player with a card holder, either a handheld version (this one holds up to 15 cards) or a hands-free rack that sits on the table (this set is solid oak with a felt-lined bottom to prevent scratches on your table).

If you enjoy card games like Rummy and Gin Rummy but don’t often have a larger group to play with, head over to my article “2 Player Card Games” to learn how to play both traditional and modern games – 10 in all!

How to Play Gin Rummy

Playing Gin Rummy will be quite different.

Here is an example with only two players:

  1. Deal 10 cards to each person, one at a time, as discussed above. 
  2. Place the deck to the side and flip the card on top to a separate pile, facing it up as the discard pile.
  3. Just like Rummy, you are seeking to make runs and sets. A run can be a Jack, Queen, and King in a row, all in the same suit. A set is 3-4 of the same cards, such as four 10s in a row (which would cover each suit type of diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs). 
  4. The players can determine if they would like to pick up the card that is in the discard pile. If they do not want that top discard pile card, the second player can choose to grab it. 
  5. If no one wants the top discard, you will choose from the deck. For each card you take, you must discard one. So if you place down a Queen and the other player needs it, they can grab it from the discard pile. 
  6. As you make sets and runs, you can hold onto them or lay them down on the table. 
  7. The two ways that the game can end include:
    • Knock – If the value of the player’s unmatched cards is below 10, this is a knock. For example, if you have 10 cards in your hand and you have three Jacks matched, three aces matched, and four unmatched cards that equal less than 10 remaining, then you have a knock. You don’t have to knock, though; you can continue playing to try to improve your hands.
    • Gin – If you continue playing, then you are seeking to match up your unmatched cards. Once you match all your cards and can discard your last card, you will have an empty hand. This is called ‘Going Gin’ because everything is paired up! You discard your last card face down on the discard deck to signify the end of the game.
  8. You will total the other player’s unmatched cards. The loser’s total is the number of winner’s points. So, if the loser’s unmatched cards amount to 12, the winner will get 12 points.
  9. Continue to play hands. The first player to reach 100 points (or the agreed-upon figure) will win the game!

The cards will be worth the same values as listed above for Rummy.

Eager to explore more games? In my games section, you’ll discover more card games, dice games, RPGs, and board games for both kids and grownups. Click here to see them all

In Conclusion 

Rummy and Gin Rummy are excellent card games that you can either play alone, play on the computer, or play with the family.

Using the computer to practice your skills for a while can ramp up the competitiveness of family card night!

Looking for more card game ideas? Check out more of our favorite card games.

Image Credit: abhijit chendvankar

Last update on 2024-05-28 at 01:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!