Luck and Layoffs
Someone recently commented that layoffs in Gin Rummy are rare and lucky. Well… they don’t have to be.
I played this hand against Finn today. During the whole hand, he never drew a card from the discard pile. I only drew one. It was the 5♠ in the screenshot above. And I thought twice about making that move.
So why do we (and many top players) hesitate to draw from the discard pile? It’s because we don’t want our opponent to know what melds we have. You see, when I draw that 5♠, it probably means that I am collecting 5s *OR* that I am building a run of spades that includes the 5. After I draw that 5♠, the opponent will never discard the 6♠ or 7♠ if he draws it. That reduces my chances of getting those needed cards by 50% because now I can only hope to get them from the draw pile, not the discard pile.
let’s discuss our “outs”
“Outs” are the cards that might be drawn that have the potential to turn deadwood into melds. Looking at the hand above, my deadwood is an unsuited 4, 2 and A. No one card can turn that into a set. So really, I’m just trying to reduce my deadwood and help my hand any way I can. Drawing the 5♠ is a good move for several reasons. The downside is that my opponent will be unlikely to discard the 6♠ or 7♠ after I pick up that 5.
That’s why layoffs aren’t lucky
Did you ever wonder why layoffs exist in the game of Gin. Well, now you can see why. A card shark will hold onto the cards his opponent needs, sometimes even to the extent of breaking up his own sets and compromising his own hand. Later, when the opponent knocks, the card shark is ready to bite. Instead of handing the opponent a 25 point Gin bonus, the card shark wins a 25 point undercut bonus.
The best part about picking up the 5♠ was that it allowed the 2♠ to potentially break off into a set of 2s with the 2♥. When I drew the 2♣, I had a Gin hand.
The “Examine Hand” button (just above the words “Score Card”), allows me to review the hands…
Finn’s deadwood is on the left side. He had a 5♥ 3♣ 3♦ 2♦. The 3s and 2 create a great “triangle” – a combination of three cards with 4 outs. Specifically, the 3♥ 3♠ 4♦ or A♦ would turn that triangle into a set.
Finn was holding onto that 5♥ because I drew the 5♠ and he thought I might be collecting 5s. If Finn had drawn the 6♠, he would have held on to that card too.
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For a quick look at strategy and terminology, click here: Strategy Basics for Gin