Gin Rummy, although typically a head to head style card game, it can be played between three, four, or more even numbers of players following the rules of gin rummy.
Play between three players
Before the first hand, players draw cards to determine who plays the first hand. The player drawing the lowest card becomes the dealer and deals the two other players but doesn’t play the hand.
The winner of the hand plays the next hand with the dealer of the previous hand. The loser of the previous hand deals the next hand.
Play between four players
Between four players, two teams of two players each are formed.
Setting the Team: Players may play with predetermined partners. Alternately, to divide the four players randomly in to two teams, the four players draw cards, and the two players who draw the highest cards team up against the two players drawing the lowest cards.
The Deal: For the first hand, one player each from both teams draws for deal, and the team drawing low, deals the first round. For subsequent rounds, winner of the previous round deals the next round.
The Hand: The individual hands are played in the same way as gin rummy is played between two players. The only difference is two consequent hands are played between the two teams.
For example, Team 1 consists of Player A and Player B, and they are playing Team 2 of Player X and Player Y. Individual hands are played between Player A against Player X, and Player B against Player Y.
Variation: Partners may alternate opponents after each round. For example, if the first hand is A vs. X and B vs. Y, then the second hand becomes A vs. Y and B vs. X and so on.
Ending the Hand: The round ends only when both individual hands are finished. Then the scores are tallied.
When one player knocks or gins, the players of the other partnership may pause and count the scores (to help them assess their position and points required to win the round). When one hand is finished, the idle player may not discuss anything with his partner; however, after the partner's opponent has knocked, the idle player may advise his partner as to the best way to lay off.
Scoring: Scores are kept on a partnership level, that is, only the combined score of both hands is registered in the score sheet under a team’s name.
For example, A and B are partners and are playing X and Y. A plays X and wins the round with 5 points. B plays Y and wins with 13 points. In the score sheet, 18 points (5 + 13) will be registered against Team A & B.
Similarly, if A wins his hand against X by 8 points, and B loses his hand against Y by 27 points, the combined score of 19 (27 – 8) is awarded to Team X & Y.
Gin bonus and Undercut bonus are awarded to individual hands. Box and shutout bonus are awarded to teams.
Games between four players typically continue till a team reaches 125 points. A Game bonus of 100 points is awarded to the winning team. Shutout bonus is also 100 points.
Note: Some tournament rules don’t award box bonus and shutout bonus.
Strategy: The basic strategy for playing each hand remains same as a regular hand of gin rummy. However players often review their strategy when one hand of the partnership ends. If a partner wins handsomely, his partner previously playing for gin may now play for knock points. Similarly, if the partner lost by a huge margin, the player previously playing for knock points may try to go for gin or undercut to make up for his partner’s loss.
It is extremely important to be aware of the score while playing partnership gin rummy. If the partner’s loss is not too big, a partner should try to overcome the loss; however, if the loss is too big, and cannot be overcome even by a late gin, it is advisable to knock early and sacrifice the hand, and thus lose the hand but with a low margin.
Play between six or more even number of players
Applying the same rules for four players, partnership gin rummy may be played amongst six or more even number of players.
Setting the Team: All players draw cards to team up. Half the players drawing the highest cards are teamed against the players drawing the lowest cards. All players from one team sit on one side of the table. Each player will play hands throughout the game with the player on the other side of the table. Opponents are never changed during the game.
The Deal: One player each from both teams draws for deal, and the team drawing low deals the first round. Winner of the previous round deals the next round.
The Hand: Each player plays individual gin rummy hands with the player sitting opposite him. Normal gin rummy rules are followed.
Results of all individual hands are added up and then compared to determine the winner of the deal.
Scoring: Scores are kept on a team basis. Gin bonus and Undercut bonus are awarded to individual hands. Box and shutout bonus are awarded to teams.
The target score for games between six players (three in each team) is 150 points. For eight players the target score is 175 points, for 10 players the target is 200 points and so on.
Note: Although partnership gin rummy may be played between 10 or more even number of players by following the same principles mentioned above, it becomes confusing and scoring becomes complex. It is advisable to start a new table and hence a new partnership gin rummy match when the number of players exceed 10.