Gin Rummy Background
Orirgin of Gin Rummy Game
When Gin Rummy suddenly surged to the front in 1938, most dictionaries and almost all Bridge Writers jumped to the conclusion that the game was an entirely new form of Rummy. Most present-day Bridge writers and game authors erroneously credit a New York Bridge expert with the invention of Gin Rummy in 1909.The truth is that game-rule books published in the early 1000s describe a game called Gin Poker which is almost identical to the present Gin Rummy. As for the origin of Gin Poker, in some other country there may be obscure records of some very early game resembling our Rummy games but failing that, my opinion is that the origin of the Rummy games was Whiskey Poker; a peculiarly American variant of Poker.
The tenth (1864) edition of The American Hoyle gives these card rules for rummy: Five cards are dealt to each player, one at a time, and an extra hand is dealt on the table, called the "widow." The eldest hand then examines his cards and decides he has a strong hand; he passes. If not, he may take the widow. Each player in rotation has a chance to take the widow. When a player takes the widow, he must place his discarded hand face up on the table. And then comes the crucial detail of the play that is responsible for all Rummy game. The discarded hand is face up in the center of the table, and. That is the origin of our Rummy games.
Why was it called Whiskey Poker? The 1880 American Hoyle says: 'The game is often played for refreshments." Most card playing and gambling circa 1864 took place in saloons, and it was natural that this variety of Poker, in which the drinks were the prize, should bear their name. Hundreds of variations followed and slowly Gin Rummy began to evolve. Here, for example, are the rules for Rum Poker:
Each player was dealt ten cards, and each player drew cards until he had 15 points or less in his hand. He could then lay down his entire hand, showing the combinations he could meld and counting the pips of the cards that didn't connect with anything. Thus a player hold three kings and a run of four cards in sequence, his odd cards being a six, three and deuce of sundry suits. The deadwood (unmatched cards) counted 11. All other players laid down their hands now, and the winner collected the difference between his deadwood total and theirs. Sometimes, of course, another player's deadwood was a point or so below the claimant's. The other player got paid.
That's coming pretty close to Rummy. And then, in the early 1900s, along came a third variety of Poker, Gin Poker. Look at these rules:
A standard pack of 52 cards was used. The game was for two players. Game was 100 points. Each player was dealt ten cards, one to each alternately. The 21st card was turned face up. Each player could pick off the top card of the discard pile or take a card off the top of the stock, then discard a card. The object of the game was to get sequences of three or more in a suit or three or four of a kind. As soon as deadwood totaled 10 or less the player could call for a showdown, and had to announce the amount of his deadwood and show his hand, laying the combination aside. If an opponent had fewer deadwoods than the caller (the present game's "knocker") he and not the caller got paid. Not only that-he got a 10-point penalty from the caller.