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Shedding Deadwood to improve a bad hand fast

gin rummy strategy shedding deadwoodOne of the easiest ways to improve your Gin Rummy strategy is to get rid of your high point deadwood cards quickly. It’s the top priority when you have a hand like the one above. There are four 10 point cards that are utterly unconnected. I want to dump them ASAP.

Gin Rummy deadwood countI have a choice of taking the discard, a 9♦, or drawing a card from the draw pile.  I decided to take my chances with the draw pile.  Innevitably, when you are trying to shed your high point cards, you end up drawing more high point cards.

Gin Rummy strategy shedding deadwood

I can’t dump any points on this turn, but I CAN improve my hand.  I’ll discard the Jack because the Kings could make a set , or the K♥-Q♥ could be turned into a run if I get the J♥. By discarding the J♣, I am “advertising” for Jacks.  I’m establishing a Jack as a “safe throw”, since I’m obviously not collecting them. I’m also going to find out if my opponent is collecting Jacks based on what he does next.

Gin Rummy strategy

Sure enough, Finn picked up my J♣ and discarded this Q♦.  Finn is a good player, so he probably wouldn’t pick up a card from the discard pile unless it completed a set or run in his hand.  That means he either has a set of Jacks OR he has a run, like 10♣-J♣-Q♣.

This is important for two reasons.  First, I know that I don’t want to discard any more Jacks or high clubs that will feed his hand. Second, I know that it is even MORE unlikely that I will get the J♥ needed to complete the K♥-Q♥ in my hand.  Runs that end in a King or Ace are undesirable because they have only 1 possible card to complete them, rather than the 2 possible cards to complete a middle run.  For example, if I have a 7♦-6♦ I can complete that run with either the 8♦ or 5♦.  I have twice as good a chance of drawing the card I need with the 7-6 run as with the K-Q run.

Gin Rummy strategy

I could have picked up that Q♦.  After all, it has potential of making a meld with the Q♥ or the K♦.  But I’d rather take my chances with the draw pile again and try to shed this deadwood.  Alas, I draw the 9♠ which means I’ll only be losing 1 point of deadwood, BUT the 9♠-10♠ has 2 outs whereas the K♥-Q♥ only had one, so I’m improving my outs too.

Gin Rummy strategy safe throw

I could have discarded a different card, like the 7♣ which has nothing that goes with it, but I’m trying to reduce my deadwood and my chances of getting that J♥ were almost nil.

Gin Rummy strategy discardsCheck it out!  On the very next turn, Finn discarded the Q♣.  Now I KNOW he has a set of Jacks.

And, lucky for me, I drew a King and turned my 20 points of deadwood into a set of Kings.Gin Rummy strategy

I could discard my highest deadwood card, the 10♠, but I’d rather keep the two outs that the 10♠-9♠ provides and discard the totally unmatched 7♣, even though I’ll have an extra 3 points of deadwood.

Gin Rummy strategy

This 2♦ is a desirable low card, and it may make a triangle with my other low cards in the future, so I’ll keep it and discard the 10♠.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to dump that 9♠ soon, but for now I’ve dropped 8 deadwood points!

Gin Rummy deadwood count

And here’s that chance.

Gin Rummy game handOnce I discard the 9♠, I am left with this hand and a Gin Rummy deadwood count of 27 points.  That’s a lot better than the 66 I started out with.  Just in the last 2 turns, I dropped 11 points just by discarding the 9♠-10♠ in favor of the 6♥ and 2♦.

If you keep your low cards and shed your high cards, you’ll draw outs and matches for the low cards.  And if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’s because your opponent has a meld there.

Now some day, you will break up a 10♥-J♥ only to draw the Q♥ and you’ll think “Shedding high cards is a bad strategy, and now I see the proof.”  Mark my words – it will happen.  But the odds say that discarding high cards and building with low cards will win out in the long run.  It’s the right thing to do, even when it goes wrong.

Even when you’re dealt a good hand, it’s important to get your deadwood count down as efficiently as possible.  Some opponents will knock in the first couple of turns.  Eliminate deadwood without delay, or a good opponent will make you pay!

If you’d like to get some practice with Gin Rummy deadwood strategy, check out our free Gin Rummy app for Android in the Google Play Store. Download our Android app today.  You’ll find it here on Google Play.


And please enjoy our other great Gin Rummy strategy articles like:

Outs – a guide to a better Gin Rummy hand

Luck and Layoffs

Great Knockers






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