Gin Rummy is one of many variations of the long time favorite card game, rummy, and it was developed as means of speeding up the game. Two players participate, each receiving 10 cards. The object of the game is to achieve “melds” (groups) of 3 or more cards, either “sets” of the same rank (3 or 4 twos, Queens or Aces, for example) or “runs” of consecutive cards of the same suit (four, five, six and seven of spades, for instance). One player ends the game by “going gin” (organizing his whole hand into melds) or “knocking” (organizing your whole hand into melds with the exception of a few unmolded cards totaling less than 10 points). Both sides’ points are then tallied up and the player with the highest point total is the winner.
Origins of Rummy
Rummy is a well established card game that comes in many different versions, including Rummikub, which is no longer a card game but played with tiles. The pedigree of this game is uncertain, although its focus on creating melds via draws and discards is common in Chinese games, notably Mahjong. Kun P’ai, a Chinese card game with an uncanny resemblance to rummy, was described by the Englishman W. H. Wilkinson in 1891; there is another similar Chinese card game by the name of Kon Khin. The Standard Hoyle first described a true Rummy game played in the US and called Coon Can in 1887. Foster’s Complete Hoyle remarked in 1897 that a Rummy game by the name of Conquian was very popular in Mexico and the states of the US that border that country, especially Texas. The resemblance of the three names, Kon Khin, Coon Can and Conquian, suggests that the North American game may be the descendant of the Chinese one.
Gin Rummy appears to have been invented by an American, Elwood T. Baker, who used to teach the card game whist in Brooklyn. (His inspiration actually took place at the Knickerbocker Whist Club.) Supposedly the game’s name was chosen to suggest the two alcoholic beverages, gin and rum. However, reports at the time called it either Poker Gin or Gin Poker, although there wasn’t much resemblance to poker in the new game. The game really took off in the 1930s when the Depression caused families to look for inexpensive amusements to enjoy at home together. Its popularity increased through the 1940s when it was the hit game of the decade, enjoyed by everyone from small children to Hollywood stars.
Gin Rummy Today
While gin rummy played the old fashioned way, with a real deck of 52 playing cards, is a perennial favorite, nowadays it is easy to find a good game of virtual gin rummy on the Internet as well. This is convenient for solitary types who like to have 24 hour access to a playing companion, as well as to gamblers looking for an online skill based game which will allow them to parlay their card playing ability into some cold hard cash. You will find all types of games available, from free, play for fun gin rummy all the way up to elaborate multi player tournaments with large cash prizes.
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Gin Rummy, a speedier variant of popular card game Rummy, was developed in the US over a century ago. A popular Depression-era family entertainment, Gin Rummy today is enjoyed online as either a free amusement or a high stakes competition. Denise Marie really enjoys writing about card games. Denise’s article is for educational purposes only. More on the history of Gin Rummy