OBJECTIVE OF SKARNEY GIN: The first player to 200 points or more wins the game



RANK OF CARDS: (Low) A, 2 – K, A (High)




Skarney Gin is a variation of Gin Rummy created by John Scarne in the early 1900’s.  In this game, players have a new meld that they can build, Aces can be used as a low card and high card, and there is no discard pile.  Inspired by some other Rummy games, players will also need to fulfill a contract before going out.  Fans of Gin Rummy will appreciate the faster pace of Skarney Gin, as well as the interesting dynamic that the lack of a discard pile creates.


 Skarney Gin uses a 52 card deck.  In this game, Aces can be used as a low card played below the 2 or as a high card played above the King.  Even though the Aces can be high or low, they cannot be used to go around the corner.  More details on that in the MELD section. 

Shuffle and dole out ten cards to each player.  Place the rest face down as the stock.


Each player’s turn has three phases: draw, meld, and offer. 


The non-dealer goes first.  They begin their turn by drawing a card from the stock and adding it to their hand.


After drawing, the player should analyze their cards and identify any possible melds.  There are three types of melds in this game: runs, sets, and pokers.

Runs are three or more cards of the same suit in numerical order.  When forming a run, Aces can be placed below the 2 (A,2,3) or above the King (Q,K,A).  Going around the corner is not allowed, so the run K,A,2 is illegal. 

Sets are three or four cards of the same rank. 

Pokers are a run of three or more cards in which the suits do not match.  For example, the 3 of Spades, 4 of Clubs, and 5 of Clubs make poker.  Think of it as a straight in the game of poker.

As players form the melds in their hands, they keep the cards hidden until they have met the contract.  Only after meeting the contract can players begin to lay their cards on the table.  Once a player has drawn and analyzed their hand for melds, it is time for them to offer a card to their opponent.


Skarney Gin does not have a discard pile.  Instead, players choose one card from their hand and offer it to their opponent.  Show the opponent the card and ask, “Do you want this card?”  If they want it, they take it and add it to their hand.  If not, the offering player keeps it.  This ends that player’s turn.  It should be noted that players are not allowed to offer their last card.  If the player only has one card in their hand, they cannot offer it.

Play like this continues until one of the players has met the contract and are ready to lay their cards on the table.


A player cannot win until they have met the contract – creating exactly three melds of three cards each.  It does not matter which melds are created.  Once a player has met the contract, they can lay the nine cards down on their turn.  From this point on, new melds can be created and played to the table, and cards may be added to previously played melds.  A player can only add cards to their own melds; adding them to an opponent’s meld is not allowed.


The only way to end a round is to go Gin.  This means that the player has met the contract and played all of the cards from their hand onto the table.  Once the player’s hand is empty, they say, “Gin!” and end the round.


If the stock only has three cards remaining, the player takes their turn as normal and draws the third to last card.  In this instance, the player does not offer a card.  The game ends once they are done forming melds in their hand or on the table. 


In this game, Aces are worth 15 points, face cards are worth 10 points each, and numbered cards are worth the number on the card.

The player that goes Gin earns 25 points plus the number of deadwood points left in their opponent’s hand.  Deadwood consists of any card or cards not part of a meld. 

If the stock is drawn down to two cards, the player with the least amount of deadwood points wins the round.  They earn points equal to the difference in deadwood between them and their opponent.  For example, if Player 1 has 21 deadwood points, and Player 2 has 7 deadwood points, Player 2 wins the round and earns 14 points.


The loser of the round shuffles and deals.  Continue playing rounds until one player reaches 200 points or more.  That player is the winner.

Mark Ball
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