Gin Rummy Strategy:


To knock or not to knock, that is the question now

Introduction to gin rummy strategy:

Gin rummy game ends with one player knocking. If this statement comes as a shock, then you should first have a look at the rules, if it doesn’t, then keep reading…

This article is dedicated to the subject of »knocking« in a gin rummy game, or better yet on the question when to knock and when not to knock. Since this is a complicated question I’ll try to introduce some factors that you should take into consideration when deciding. So let’s take a look at these factors and how they should influence your decision…

Actual gin rummy strategy:


Length of the game

This should be self explanatory, but I’ll cover it anyway. The longer a game is played the better the chance that your opponent has a lot of melds in his hand and thus less deadwood. What you should take out of this is that the longer you’ve been playing, the lower your deadwood score should be when you knock.

An extreme example of this would be:

1. Case: The cards are dealt and you immediately get only 9 deadwood. Knocking right away here wouldn’t really be bad, since your opponent has some random cards and will probably have a hard time getting a low deadwood score.

2. Case: You’ve been playing the same hand for an hour and you finally manage to get your deadwood to 9. Knocking here is probably pretty bad(unless you have some other stronger reason to knock). This is because your opponent probably has a bunch of melds already formed after such a long time of play, or maybe he’s even seen that you are struggling and decided not to knock with his <9 deadwood in hopes of making Gin.

Opponents discards

You should follow your opponents discards in general, but when it come to deciding whether to knock or not it’s actually all about hand reading.

Opponents picks

You should follow these to because of two things:

1. You should know what meld your opponent is making so you know what cards you’ll be able to add in case he knocks. Basically, if it seems like you’ll be able to add a lot of cards, you should consider waiting for him to knock and lose, but only if you assess that you’ll get more points this way.

2. If your opponent sticks to the rule of thumb that you should pick up cards from the discard pile only if it makes you a three card meld, then the number of his pick ups is equal to the number of his melds. This way you know how many cards he has as deadwood and you can assess your chances of having a lower deadwood score.

Your cards

Probably the most important factor. You should look at your melds, how many cards improve your hand, what are your chances of making Gin etc.. To show this on an example:

1. If your hand is 7d8d9dTdJdQdKdAd6c5h, you have very limited options, only 2 cards to make gin and a solid deadwood score of 5 (you discard the 6 after knocking). You should definitely knock.

2. If your hand is 7c8c9cTc6d7d8d9dTd5h6h, you have the same deadwood score of 5(like in the previous case), but you also have A TON of out to make Gin. You should really consider waiting.


Deciding on knocking or not knocking is sometimes hard, I hope that this little gin rummy strategy article shined some light on the basic considerations for making a final decision. Remember, try to read your opponents cards, adapt and keep those braincells running when you play and you’ll do fine.

Enjoy playing!