One of the best ways to win at Gin Rummy is to knock early in the hand rather than playing for Gin.
Why? Here are two reasons
♦ The temptation to hold high cards like these is very strong…
…especially to a rookie player. In the beginning of the hand, when your opponent is likely to discard any unmatched face cards ASAP, your chance of catching that third King is better than average. A beginner may use that logic as an excuse to hold 40 points of deadwood for 2 or 3 turns with a “wait and see” attitude. When he finally decides to ditch them, it will take a few turns to get rid of them all.
♦ There are a lot of 10 point cards in the deck!
You can easily go through several turns without getting a card under 10 points. So even if you want to shed your high-point deadwood, you may never get the chance.
As such, even a good player can easily be caught off guard with a high deadwood count when confronted with an early knock. This is an easy Gin Rummy strategy to employ and an important threat to defend against.
Many card games have a different feel depending on what kind of opponent you are playing. A pro Texas Hold ‘Em player will try to bet you out of the hand pre-flop whenever his cards are good enough to warrant it, whereas friendly players are not as aggressive about eliminating the competition. I spent hours playing Euchre against a computer and loved it, but played with real people, it was a completely different game. Similarly, expert-level Gin Rummy is a game of great knockers. The jackpot hands come when you knock early and catch your opponent holding a bunch of deadwood points.
Rules to Knock By:
♠ If you can knock within the first 4 turns, do so.
♠ In the 5th to 7th turn, knocking is still a good play, BUT
Beware if your opponent discards a low card. If his hand is not improved by keeping an ace or deuce, he probably has a good hand and is likely to underknock you.
♠ By the 8th turn, a knock would be dangerous if you’re holding more than 5 points of deadwood.
By this late in the game, a pro opponent has a good idea what melds you are holding. When you draw from the discard pile, it is a dead giveaway. But even if you never draw a discard, expert players can get a read on your hand based on what cards have been discarded. My dad could do it. My fiancee’s father can do it. What amazes me is that they are still able to accurately “count cards” after they’ve been playing for hours. After a few hands, all the day’s discards get jumbled up in my memory. But, like anything else, the skill is honed with practice.
Speaking of which, if you’d like to practice your new knocking skills, check out our free Gin Rummy app for Android in the Google Play Store or Amazon App Store today. The app has a nice variety of computer opponents, from amateur players who never knock all the way up to pro-level players who are sure to give you a challenge. Download today!
♣ If you’re new to Gin Rummy and would like to learn the basic rules, click here: How to play Gin
♣ For a quick look at strategy and terminology, click here: Strategy Basics for Gin
♣ For more great articles on Gin Rummy strategy, click here: Gin Rummy Tips