Straight Gin is a fun and fast-paced rummy card game. It emerged in the early 20th century as a simplification of regular Gin Rummy.
The “straight” refers to the requirement to form runs or sequences in your hand in order to go out. With easy scoring and no knocking, this game delivers non-stop action!
Goal of the Game
The goal of Straight Gin is to be the first player to form melds with all ten cards in your hand, allowing you to “gin” and win the hand.
Quick Straight Gin Rules
In short, the main rules can be summarized as follows:
Standard 52-card deck
10 cards each
Form sets (3+ cards) and runs (3+ consecutive cards)
Draw from the discard pile or deck
The first to “gin” wins the hand
Deadwood in the opponent’s hand scored
First to 100 points wins
Setup and Deal
To begin, shuffle the deck and deal ten cards face down to each player. Flip the next card face up to form the initial discard pile. The non-dealer starts first.
Gameplay and Melds
On your turn, draw either the top card of the discard pile or the top card of the deck. Then, discard one card onto the discard pile face up.
Organize your hand into melds as you draw and discard. A meld is a combination of 3+ cards of the same rank (set) or consecutive cards of the same suit (run).
If you form melds with all ten cards in your hand, declare “Gin!” and lay your cards down face up.
If you gin, you receive 20 points plus the deadwood points in your opponent’s hand. Count Aces as 11 points, face cards as 10 points, and number cards at face value.
You lay down your melds of K♥ Q♥ J♥ 10♥ 9♥ and 7♦ 8♦ 9♦. Your opponent has a 3♣ 5♣ 6♣ 9♠ 4♦ in their hand.
20 points for ginning
3 points for your opponent’s 3♣
5 points for your opponent’s 5♣
6 points for your opponent’s 6♣
10 points for your opponent’s 9♠
4 points for your opponent’s 4♦
Totaling 48 points for the hand.
Your opponent scores 0 points.
The deadwood points allow you to capitalize on your opponent’s inefficient meld-making. Pay attention as they draw and discard to track what deadwood could remain.
The first player to 100 points wins. If playing a series, the first to 500 points wins.
Some play Straight Gin as best 2 out of 3 or with more cards like 13 for example. This tests endurance and adaptability over multiple hands.
Others play that the dealer can’t gin on their first turn. This balances out the disadvantage of dealing.
In John Scarne’s variation, as described in his book, the scoring is simplified with no box bonuses or game bonuses. The first to 100 points wins a predetermined stake. If a player gins their opponent, the gin is worth double the stake. This version speeds up gameplay and raises the stakes.
Some play that a player must knock after a certain number of turns, such as 10 draws, if they haven’t ginned. This prevents overly defensive play.
Know When to Knock
With no knocking in Straight Gin, you need to gin to win a hand. Be aware of how close you are to forming all your melds.
Don’t draw recklessly trying to gin if you still need several cards. Play conservatively until you get close.
Watch the Discards
Keep an eye on which cards your opponent is discarding. This gives you information about what melds they could be holding.
You may be able to prevent them from ginning by holding onto a key card they need. Discards can also help you in forming your own melds.