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Introducing Poker
Ranking Hands
The sequence of play
Betting Interval
Betting Small and Big Blinds
Table stakes
Using wild cards
Probability of holding
First betting interval
seven card stud
Other forms of poker
Texas Hold'em Basic Hand
Five - Six card Omaha
Poker Sense
Slow Playing
Other Gambling Card Game
Seven-card Brag
Gin Rummy

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Gin Rummy

This is the best-known variant of Rummy, and is designed for two players.  The players draw to decide the first dealer, the player with the higher card having the choice of whether to deal or not.  The dealer shuffles and the non-dealer cuts.  Like the parent game, the object is to get rid of cards by forming sets.  Unlike in the parent game, however, the sets are held in the hand until the end of the game.

The play

  • The dealer deals ten cards one at a time to both players, beginning with the non-dealer.  The reminder of the pack is placed face down to form the stock, and the top card is turned face up beside it to become the first up-card, on what will become a discard pile.
  • The non-dealer may take the first up-card into his hand or refuse it.  If he takes it he replaces it with a discard from his hand.  If he refuses it, it is the dealer ’s turn and he has the same options.
  • If both players refuse the up-card, the non-dealer takes the top card of the stock into his hand and discards a card (it might be the same one if he doesn’t want it) by placing it face up on the up-card, which becomes now a discard pile.  From now on each player may take either the discard or the top card of the stock into his hand.  He then discards to keep ten cards in his hand.  Players may not look back through the discards unless this has been agreed beforehand.
  • Both players continue to pick up and discard until one of them has enough sets to go out.

Going out

When a player has all the sets he can, he may be left with a few unmatched cards.  After drawing a card from the stock or discard pile he may go out (knock) if the unmatched cards in his hand (not counting the discard) count ten points or fewer (scoring is the same as in the main game).
            To knock, a player lays down his ten cards arranged in sets with any unmatched cards to one side.  The left-hand layout opposite shows such an arrangement.  The player has three sets and his unmatched card counts two.  He is said to ‘knock for two.’

  • If a player lays down all his cards without any unmatched cards, he is said to go gin.
  • If the fiftieth card is drawn from stock, leaving only two, and the drawer discards without knocking, the opposing player may pick up the discard and knock, but may not draw from stock.  The last two cards remain unplayed.  If this player also does not knock, the deal is abandoned, and the player who dealt deals again.

Laying off

When one player knocks, his opponent also lays down the cards in his own hand.  If any of his unmatched cards fit in with the knocker ’s sets he may lay them off, reducing the count against himself.
            For example, suppose he lays down the cards in the layout, opposite right, his playing opponent having knocked with the other hand.  His unmatched cards are ♠ 9, 9, ♠ A for a count of 19.  However, he can lay off ♠ 9 at the top end of knocker ’s ♠ 8, ♠ 7, ♠ 6 and his 9 on knocker ’s Q, J, 10.  His count is reduced to 1.

Going out
    Laying off






However, it is not possible to lay off cards on a knocker who goes gin.  If the unmatched ♣ 2 in the hand of the knocker (above left) had been a 4, say, the knocker could have added it to his set of 4s and gone gin, not allowing any cards to be laid off on him.


  • If the knocker has the lower count of unmatched cards in the two hands, he scores the difference in the two counts.
  • If, however, the opponent ’s count is equal to or lower than the knocker ’s, he is said to have undercut the knocker.  He then scores the difference, if any, between the two counts plus a bonus of 25 points for undercutting.  Thus the knocker above is unlucky, as his opponent, by laying off and reducing his count to 1, has undercut him.  He thereby scores 1, plus the bonus of 25, making 26 points.
  • When the knocker goes gin, he cannot be undercut, as his opponent cannot lay off any unmatched gambling cards.  He scores the difference in the count plus a bonus of 25 for going gin.

The score for each player is entered on a score sheet:

  • The first player to score 100 points wins the game.
  • For each hand a player wins within the game he scores 25 points.
  • The winner gets an additional bonus of 100 points.
  • If the loser did not score a single point, the winner ’s total is doubled.

The payout is at a rate agreed beforehand, perhaps one unit of cash per point, or per ten or 20 points.

Slippery Sam

Slippery Sam, also called Shoot, is a banking game that is rare in that it favors the players over the bank.  Indeed the banker is likely to lose all his money.  It is a very similar game to Red Dog.
            Any number from three to about ten may play, with about six people the best.  The standard pack is used, cards ranking from Ace (high) to 2 (low).
            Players draw cards to decide who is first banker, the highest being first dealer.  It is necessary to agree beforehand that all the players should hold the bank an equal number of times, as the banker will almost certainly lose.  For the same reason a standard amount for the bank should be agreed.  It is best also to agree a minimum bet.
            The banker puts the agreed amount into the centre as the bank.  He has the right to shuffle last and the player on his right cuts.

The play

  • The banker deals three cards, one at a time, to each player (but not himself), beginning on his left, and places the remaining cards face down before him to become the stock.
  • The player on the banker ’s left examines his cards and bets any amount between the agreed minimum and the total of the bank that he will beat the top card of the stock.  To do so he must hold a card of the same suit but higher in rank.
  • When he has made his bet the banker exposes the top card of the stock.  If the player has a card to beat it he shows it and is paid by the banker the amount of his stake. It he hasn’t, he adds the amount of his stake to the bank without exposing his cards.  The four cards (banker ’s and players) are collected by the banker and put aside face down.
  • While any money remains in the bank, each player goes in turn.  No player may look at his cards until it is his turn to bet.
  • If the whole bank is taken, that banker ’s turn is ended, and the bank passes to the next player on the left, who puts in the agreed amount.  Otherwise the banker holds the bank for three betting rounds, the cards being shuffled and cut between each round.  If anything remains in the bank after three rounds, the banker may, if he wishes, hold the bank for one more round only.  Otherwise, and this is his best option, he takes what remains in the bank and passes the cards to the next player.

Vingt-et-Un (Pontoon)

Vingt-et-Un, or Twenty-One, corrupted in English by stages through Van John to Pontoon, is the domestic version of the casino game of Blackjack, and a more varied and interesting game.  It is widely played and a game that more than most has local rules.  The following version is considered as good as any.
            Each player ’s object is to build a hand with a pip total nearer to 21, but without exceeding it, than the dealer can achieve.  An Ace counts 11 or one at the holder ’s discretion, a court card (K, Q, J) 10, and other cards at their pip value.  About five to eight players is best.  The standard pack of 52 cards is used.
            The traditional way to choose first banker is for one player to shuffle the cards and deal them face up one at a time to each player unit a Jack appears to denote the first dealer.  He shuffles and the player to his right cuts.

The Play

  • The dealer is in effect a banker, who plays against the players.  He deals one card face down to each player, and to himself.  The players look at their cards and stake any amount they wish between an agreed minimum and maximum (a maximum of something like six to ten times the minimum is recommended).
  • The players state their stakes and place them on the table.
  • The banker deals another card face down to all players, and to himself.
  • The poker players look at their cards and if any of them holds an Ace and a be beaten if the dealer also has one.
  • The dealer deals with each player in turn, beginning with the one on his left.
  • A player has three choice when the dealer comes to deal with his hand.  He can:
  • Stand (stick) -He takes no more cards, being happy with his total.  He may not stand if his total is 15 or fewer (unless he has five cards, as will be seen).
  • Buy– He may buy a further card face down, for a stake not exceeding his original stake.  He may buy further cards in the same way, but his hand must not exceed five cards, which is a maximum hand.  He cannot buy a fifth card if his four-card total is 11 or lower, but may twist.
  • Twist– He asks the dealer to twist him a further card face up, for which he does not pay.  A player may twist at any time, even if he has previously bought cards.

If during play, a player ’s count, either on buying a card or twisting, exceeds 21, he busts and throws in his hand.  The dealer puts his cards on the bottom of the pack and collects the bust player ’s stake.

  • When all players have been dealt with, the banker exposes his own two cards.  If he holds a pontoon, he collects all the stakes, including those of any player with a pontoon.  Otherwise, he may stand, or deal himself extra cards, standing when he wishes.  He can count Ace as 11 or one and, apart from being unable to split Aces, has no restrictions at all.  Should his count exceed 21, however, he loses to all the players still in the game.

* The five-card hand

Another special hand, in addition to the pontoon mentioned above, is the five-card hand.  i.e. a hand containing five cards whose pip count does not exceed 21?  This hand beats all others, irrespective of count, except a pontoon.


When the dealer stands, settlement is made in the following way:

  • He pays all players whose totals are nearer 21, and collects from those whose totals are equal or lower.
  • Unless he holds a five-card hand he pays all five-card hands.  If he holds a five-card hand he collects from holders of five-card hands.
  • A player who holds pontoon is paid double by the dealer, but players do not pay double to a dealer with a pontoon.

The next deal

After each deal the cards are shuffled and cut.  The deal does not pass on by rotation; the dealer retains the bank until a player holds a pontoon, when that player takes it for the next deal.  The only exceptions to this are if the pontoon was from split Aces or the dealer also holds a pontoon, when the dealer retains the bank.  Should two or more players hold a pontoon on the same hand, the player nearest the dealer ’s left takes over the bank?
            Although players have the advantage of determining their stakes, the advantage is with the bank, which is usually profitable, because the dealer wins on tied hands, and because he wins from all players who bust, even though he might eventually bust himself.

* Split Aces
           A player who has been dealt a pair of aces may split them.  He separates the cards and places the same stake as his original stake on the second card.  Each card is now regarded as the first card of separate poker hands and is dealt with separately.  If a third Ace is dealt on either of the two Aces it can also be split.

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