The waiting game

Fancy making money off your mates while stuck in an airport? Then break out the cards for some gin rummy

You’re on a plane or train with cards, but no chips. You want to pass the time – and bet, of course – but what can you play? The pros Stateside are fond of Chinese poker, which you can read about on this very site. Over here, some UK pros are fond of a game of 13-card Brag, aka ‘crash’. But both have complicated rules that can easily be forgotten after a few beers.

Regular InsideEdge readers might opt for gin rummy. But what version? If you’re playing with idiots then stick to ‘first to knock’ (see the box on the right of the screen if you don’t know the rules).However, there are more interesting variations…


The best version is ‘first to 100 points’. You score based on the cards you have when a player has knocked. If the total value of the cards held by the player who knocked is lower than those held by his opponent, the difference is added to his score. The player who knocks first also gets an extra 20 points if he has gin (a completed ten-card hand). If the player who knocks has a total value above that of his opponent, the difference (plus a ten-point bonus) is added to the opponent’s score. This is the ‘undercut bonus’.

Each time you are first to knock you get 20 bonus points, which aren’t added to your 100-point total. All bonuses are added to your score at the end of the game. An extra 100-point bonus is added to the winner of the game – 200 points if the opponent failed to score any.

It’s actually very simple. Grab a pen off the stewardess and scribble the scores on a napkin and you’re away. So how do you bet on it? You could have a simple £10 bet on who gets to 100 first. Alternatively, say each point is worth £1 and the loser pays the difference.However, this can be a very expensive game, so make sure you agree the rules before play starts.

Variations include a 25-point bonus for gin, a 25-point bonus for an undercut and a 25-point bonus for being first to knock. You can also play that the winner’s score is doubled if his opponent fails to score any points. Agree the scoring system in advance along with how the game starts. A common twist is for one player to be dealt 11 cards, rather than turn over the top card of the pack.

Just as in poker, there are variations named after US states. Instead of Texas or Omaha, in Gin you haveOklahoma. In this version the maximum number of points you can have to knock is not fixed at ten, but dictated by the value of the first up card. Picture cards count as ten and an ace is always one. Some play that if an ace is turned up then you can only knock by going for gin.


The three-person version of Gin is based on one player acting as dealer each game. The loser of each game then becomes dealer, but the winner is still the first to 100. If you want to make some cash we’d suggest playing this one as you can win double the money in the same amount of time.

You can also play a four-player version. This is a game of teamwork, with two games taking place simultaneously and players dividing into two groups of two. Scoring is as simple as with the two-player version – with both totals added up and the difference between the two teams’ scores going to the team with the highest score. The first team to reach 125 points wins. Okay, so you need to have two packs of cards, but you can still make do with the one pen.

Pin It

Comments are closed.