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How to Play Straight Gin

Grab a friend, pull out a deck of cards, and get comfortable. Straight Gin is easy to learn.


  • Step 1: Draw for dealer Remove the jokers and shuffle the deck. Each player draws a card, and then shuffles it back into the deck. Whoever draws the highest card deals the first hand. Deal 10 cards each, alternating between players.
  • TIP: In Gin, aces always have a 1-point value. Face cards are worth 10 points, and number cards have the value of their number.
  • Step 2: Make piles Place the remaining cards facedown in a stack, creating the "stock." Pick up the top card and place it faceup next to the stock. This is the discard pile.
  • Step 3: Understand the goal The object of the game is to score the highest number of points by laying all of your cards on the table before your opponent does. To do this, collect in your hand "melds" of three or more suited, sequential cards, like the 8, 9, and 10 of hearts, or three or more cards of the same rank, like three 7s or three jacks.
  • TIP: If you don't have a partner, or a deck of cards, you can also join a Gin game for free online. Just type "free gin card games" into a search engine.
  • Step 4: Take a card The player who didn't deal goes first by taking either the top card from the discard pile or the top card from the stock, so they momentarily have 11 cards in their hand. Then, they discard an unwanted card, placing it faceup on the discard pile.
  • TIP: Discard cards that are unlikely to create melds. Keep cards in the same suit and cards in the same rank.
  • Step 5: Alternate turns Continue the game with the players taking turns, each drawing and discarding.
  • Step 6: Gin! The first player to have enough melds puts them all faceup on the table, discards the final card in the discard pile, and calls out "Gin!" Their score is the total of the cards still in their opponent's hand, plus a 20-point bonus.
  • Step 7: Game continues Continue the game, alternating dealing, until one player reaches 100 points, or any score both players agree to.
  • FACT: Chinese immigrants may have introduced Gin to the U.S. in the 19th century.

You Will Need

  • A deck of cards
  • Two players
  • A table and chairs
  • Pens and paper
  • A computer with internet access (optional)

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