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Outs – a guide to a better Gin Rummy hand

It’s much easier to see how to play Gin Rummy if you learn the game while looking at cards. And here you have it! Gin Rummy outs and hand-building strategy explained with rich graphics so it’s quick and easy to learn.

In Gin Rummy, a meld can either be a *SET* of 3 or 4 cards of the same rank or a *RUN* of 3 or more cards of the same suit.

Gin Rummy strategy


Take two connected cards in your hand.  How many chances are there to turn these 2 cards into a meld?

These cards that potentially complete your melds are sometimes referred to as “Outs” when discussing Gin Rummy strategy.

Outs by Meld Type

K-Q ♦1 Out
King-Queen Suited

20 points of deadwood.
Not good.
Jack ♦
1 Out
Queen-10 Suited

20 points of deadwood BUT the resulting run will have 2 outs instead of 1, so it is slightly better than the K-Q suited.
Jack ♦
1 Out
Suited cards separated by 1

12 points of deadwood.
Will create a central run.
Not ideal, but better than above.

The lower the cards, the lower the deadwood, the better.
2 Outs
A Pair

Limited growth potential. A set of 3 has only 1 out, and a full set of 4 has none. Later, when you need to shed deadwood, a four-of-a-kind is no help.
2 Outs
Central 2-Card Run

The resulting 3 card run will still have... 2 outs.
If you create a 4 card run, it will have 2 outs. Unlike a set, a run can continue to grow until it reaches the King or Ace.
4 Outs
A "Triangle"

Highly versatile!
Draw a 5 to make a set,
Make a run with the 3♥ or 6♥
6 Outs
2 Pairs/Potential Run

You can make a set of 3s and/or a set of 4s,
Make a run with the 2♠ or 5♠
The disadvantage here is that, if you make the run, you will have 2 useless cards to get rid of.

So now that you’ve seen outs in action, let’s take a look at a couple of hands and see how many outs they have.  What cards could you draw that would leave you will less than 10 points of deadwood after your discard.  We’ll start with this tricky one:

Gin Rummy strategy

18 Deadwood Points


There are exactly 11 cards that you can draw that would give you the opportunity to go out.

You can knock as soon as you have 10 points of deadwood or less.  Deadwood is the term for the cards in your hand that are NOT in melds.  Those cards count against you and determine your score.  If you have 0 points of deadwood, that is called knocking with Gin or going Gin.  You’ll get a 25 point Gin bonus, plus your opponent will not be allowed to lay off cards.

What 11 cards will let you go out?

Look at the hand.  The deadwood cards are the cards on the right, the Q♠, 4♣, 2♠ and 2♣.  Face cards are worth 10 points and number cards are worth their rank value, so those cards total up to 18 points.

Take a moment, think about it, then scroll down for the answer…








Draw an Ace and discard the Q♠    –    Deadwood:  9

Draw a 2 to turn your pair into a set of 2s, discard the Q♠    –    Deadwood:  4

Draw the 3♠ to complete the run, discard the Q♠    –    Deadwood:  2

Draw a Queen, break off the Q♣ from the run and create a set with the Q♠, discard the 4♣    –     Deadwood:  4

Draw the K♣ or 6♣ to add to the run, discard the Q♠    –    Deadwood:  8

Those are a lot of outs, and that’s not even a good hand.

Now, try this one:

Gin Rummy strategy outs

2 Deadwood Points


With this hand, you could go out right now.  In most cases, you probably should knock when you’re down to 2 points of deadwood.  But, when you are late in the game and you have a good hand, knocking may be the wrong choice.  Why risk getting underknocked when you have such a good chance of going Gin?  Also, with 2 points of deadwood, you’re in good shape if your opponent knocks.


So on this hand, how many cards are there in the deck that could give you a Gin hand?
Think about it, then scroll down and see…










Build onto the run of spades.

Build on to the run of clubs.

Complete the set of 3s.


In addition, if you draw the 4♥, you can switch from the three 3s, a set with 1 out, to a 4♥-3♥-2♥ run with 2 outs.

So there you have it!

Now that you’ve seen Gin Rummy outs strategy in action, try building your own expert hands in our free Gin Rummy app for Android in the Google Play Store.  Download today and start the fun!


Also, check out our other great Gin Rummy strategy articles like:

Shedding Deadwood

Luck and Layoffs

Great Knockers


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