OBJECTIVE OF GEM RUMMY: The first player to reach 110 points or more is the winner
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or 3 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 cards
RANK OF CARDS: (low) Ace – King (high)
TYPE OF GAME: Rummy
INTRODUCTION OF GEM RUMMY
Gem Rummy is a commercial rummy game created by Jon, Lori, and Jayden Carper. In this game, players are trying to form melds and go out before their opponents. What separates this game from Gin Rummy is the addition of suits on each card. Rather than just collect sets and runs, players can also meld cards based on their gem parts. The inclusion of another set of suits, scoring bonuses, and rules for 3 players makes this an interesting game for any Gin Rummy fan.
THE CARDS & THE DEAL
Gem Rummy is played with a commercial deck. It is a special 52 card deck with each card also containing a gem categorization. Players will be able to build melds based on rank, suit, and gem category.
Shuffle and deal 11 cards to each player. The non-dealer rolls the two D6 dice to determine the knock limit and the diamond number. The diamond number determines which Diamond card can be melded with any Queen. Place the dice as they are rolled on the Red Joker.
Place the rest of the deck face down to form a draw pile. Turn the top card over to begin the discard pile.
The winner of the hand will deal the next one.
THE PICK UP
The non-dealer has the choice to add the turned up card to their hand. If they choose to pass on the card, the dealer has the choice to pick it up. If the card is picked up, the player discards one card and the opposite player takes their turn.
If both players pass, the non-dealer takes their turn by drawing from the draw pile. A player’s turn ends with a discard.
On each turn, players will draw a card, form melds in their hand, and discard. Melds are not played to the table. They are kept in hand. Play continues until a player is ready to knock.
There are four types of melds in Gem Rummy.
Sets are three or more cards of the same rank.
Runs are three or more cards of the same suit in sequential order
Stashes are four or more cards of the same gem color
Queen’s Diamonds is a special meld made up by any Queen and another card in the diamond suit determined by a dice roll at the beginning of the hand.
ENDING THE ROUND
Any card that is not part of a meld is considered deadwood, and these cards are worth deadwood points. A player may knock when they have deadwood points equal to or less than the dice roll that occurred at the beginning of the game. A player knocks after discarding their final card.
A player can also end the round by going Gin or Big Gin. A player goes Gin when they have all 11 cards melded in their hand after discarding. If this occurs, the player should call out “GIN”. If the player draws a card and is able to meld all 12 cards in their hand, they have gone Big Gin. They should announce it loudly and lay down their hand. In this case, the player will not discard.
If there are only two cards in the draw pile at the beginning of a player’s turn, the game ends in a draw immediately. Neither player earns points.
Once the round has ended, each player should lay out their melds and separate their deadwood. The non-knocking player is allowed to lay-off any deadwood that they can. This means that they can add their eligible deadwood cards to an opponent’s melds. If the knocker has gone Gin or Big Gin, the non-knocker cannot lay-off any cards.
Point values are as follows:
Aces = 1 point
2’s – 10’s = points equal to the number on the card
Jacks, Queens, and Kings = 10 points each
The knocker earns points equal to the difference in total deadwood between them and the non-knocker.
If the player goes Gin by melding all of their cards, they get 25 points plus the value of their opponent’s deadwood.
A Big Gin earns 35 points plus their opponent’s deadwood value.
If the non-knocker has fewer deadwood points than the knocker after the lay-off, they have successfully undercut the knocker. In this case, the non-knocker earns 25 points for the round.
If a player has one of each (8 total) gem in their hand whether it be in their melds, lay-off cards, or deadwood, they can claim the Gem Parts bonus. If the non-knocker claims this bonus, they earn 8 points. If the knocker claims this bonus, they earn 16 points. Kings may only count as one of their two gems.
The knocker will always score a minimum of 11 points as long as they are not undercut. If, after knocking, the total points earned would be less than 11, the knocker still earns 11 points.
The first player to reach 110 points or more wins the game. In the event that both players tie, the player who earns more points in the final hand wins the game.
3 PLAYER RULES
Deal 11 cards to each player. Place the rest in a draw pile. Turn the top card over to begin the discard pile. Player left of the dealer goes first.
3 Player Gem Rummy plays more like 500 Rum in that the discard pile is staircased. Players are allowed to draw the top card from the discard pile or take a card that is further down. If they choose to do so, they must pick up all of the cards on top of the one they want. The player can draw from the top of the draw pile as well.
ENDING THE ROUND
When a player knocks or goes gin, the non-knockers lay down their hand in clockwise order. The score is kept separately for each player. Each non-knocking player takes turns laying off one card at a time.
Scoring is the same as the 2 player game.
At this point, I have played well over 500 games of Gin Rummy in the last year. It is a game that my wife and I play regularly and really enjoy. The great thing about Gin, is that it can be played casually over chit chat or while watching a move, but it can also be played quite seriously with an eagle eye on the discard pile for what’s been played. While it would be a near impossible task to convince me that Gin can be improved upon, it might not be enough to scratch the itch for someone looking for a more serious game. Gem Rummy is that game.
This hand crafted package is obviously a labor of love, and it is a family project to boot. The addition of a second suit to create new meld options is an exciting change that adds a whole new level to gameplay.
For more details about the game, go to the official Gem Rummy page here.