Gin Rummy
Gin Rummy
 History
Despite the popularity of the rummy games, it is a surprise that no one really knows where the game came from or how it came to life. There are many different theories about where the game originated, but no one is sure which of the theories accurately follows the story that led Gin Rummy to the popularity it holds today. What makes the tracing back of gin history difficult is the fact that the “draw and discard” concept of playing cards is very common amongst a number of Rummy games.

Gin first appeared on the scene, in its modern version, at the beginning of the 20th century. Some historians have recognized Elwood Baker, as the originator of the game. Elwood Baker’s son came up with the name of the game based on the beverages of gin and rum. Most of these card games were played in saloons where a lot of gambling took place so according to the drinks, many games where given to variations of Rummy. Like we know of Whiskey Poker because of the drink "Whiskey", there was Gin Poker because of the alcohol “Gin" and we also know of Rum Poker, a name given by "Rum" drinkers. So because certain drinks were the "prize" given to the winner, the name of the games were changed and adapted accordingly.

Gin was immediately popular. It is a two player game which was thought to be faster than the standard rummy, and in which the aces, which are generally the cards with the highest value in other Rummy games, hold the lowest value. In gin, they rank with the following order: A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K. It passed through stages of highs and lows where it was forgotten about and then re-gained popularity in the late 1920s and the 1940s. Gin Rummy is today the most popular Rummy game played in the United States. It is said to have been invented in New York and most references believe that the game of Gin Rummy in its current form was derived from "Knock Rummy". Gin Rummy provided a source of entertainment during the great depression and was passed down through the generations. It remains one of the most popular card games with over 50 million players in the United States alone. The game was also adopted by rich and famous stars of Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. It is said that they enjoyed the game played on the set between takes.

More elaborate variations of the game also appeared during this time, such as Contract Rummy which evolved from the popular game of Contract Bridge. Today we have a variety of Rummy games which were derived from it, such as: ten steps, anarchy, "Bing" rummy, contract rummy, Florida rummy, shanghai rum, amongst many, many others. The game was eventually lionised in 1976 when Playwright D.L. Coburn introduced to the stage his Pulitzer Prize winning play, “The Gin Game”, which was directed by the legendary Mike Nichols. It initially starred the married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy and also featured the game of Gin Rummy in a central role.

No one knows whether Rummy originated in Mexico or Asia where it is still played. Some people believe that Rummy originated in Romania or even in Argentina. Others connect the origins of Rummy games to early Spanish communities who moved over to the west. The Spanish card game of Conquian bears a striking similarity to Gin Rummy and is sometimes considered to be the ancestor of all modern Rummy games. A lot of Gin enthusiasts believe that this is the most accurate version of the history of this widely played card game. While others, believe that Elwood re-worked Conquian into Gin along with the scoring system. However, Rummy games in general are considered to have their roots in Chinese history. One of the first card games to incorporate the Rummy ‘draw and discard’ pattern of play is the Chinese card game of Mahjong which is said to have been conceived during the Tang Dynasty era in China over 1000 years ago. There is probably an element of truth to all the various theories but there is actually no "definitive" answer to this question.

The cyber age has caught up with Gin Rummy also. With every game going online, how can this popular game be left behind? Gaming addicts have taken Gin Rummy live. With this development, you are bound to come across the game on the internet. In the last couple of years, many Rummy games have gone online, offering players from all over the world to play and enjoy the game. The pattern of the game is the same, with the goal to form matched sets of cards by drawing and discarding cards. Whether it's about people who grew up playing the Rummy games, or the beginners, the Rummy games are here to stay for many generations to come. These days you do not need a partner or a deck of cards anymore. You just go to any Gin Rummy site on the Web and start playing to your heart’s content. Many of them also offer cash rewards should you win. Hence, it is clear that with so many variations and options tempting players all over the world, the origin of the game is set to be even more obscure but the game ultimately will always emerge a winner in any form.

© 2009, ginrummy.com