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Gin Bummy

Contributed by John Baulding

Note: Despite the satirical name, this game is very unlike Gin Rummy.

The Object:--- True to bums everywhere, is to have four number cards (2-10) of different suits and different number values in no order to win. Basically to have a hand that would be worth nothing in most other card games.

Number of Players:--- 2-4

Number of Cards:--- Preferably 54 - a standard deck with jokers

How to Choose the Dealer:--- All players pick a card off the top of the deck: the lowest deals.

How To Play:--- The dealer deals starting to his left and continuing clockwise until all players have 10 cards. The remaining cards are stacked face down to form a draw pile. Play starts with the dealer who lays down a card face up next to the deck to start a discard pile, known as the Beg. Depending what card he plays, he may also have to pick up one or more cards. That ends his turn. The player to his left does the same thing - discards a card on the Beg and possibly draws a card or cards - and so on clockwise around the table, for as many circuits as it takes until someone wins.

If you discard a face card (king, queen or jack) on your turn, you do not draw any cards. That is your whole turn, and you have reduced your hand by one card.

If you don't have (or choose not to play) a Face Card you will have to play a number card or a special card (ace or joker). If you play a number card, you pick up one card - either the card that was on top of the Beg at the start of your turn, or the (unknown) top card of the stock. You can pick up any number card or Face card from the top of the Beg, but not an Ace or a Joker. Once a card is picked up, that player has to discard a Number Card into the Beg pile, even if he drew from it (you must not discard the same card that you picked up). Then your turn is over.

The only thing you can't throw down after picking up is a Face Card. Throwing down a Face Card takes its own turn and picking up and discarding a Number Card (having picked up) takes its own turn.

Special Cards:--- The Ace is a dreaded card in Gin Bummy. A player who discards an Ace into the Beg has to draw three cards from the top of the face-down deck, ending their turn.

The Joker is the only other special card. If you have a Joker, you can throw it into the Beg with any other card from your hand. (If you throw down a joker, you must throw another card down on top of it). The player to your left has to pick up the card you dropped on top of the Joker before beginning their turn. (A good strategy here if you have an Ace you want to get rid of is to drop a Joker first with the Ace on top of it. The person to your left will then have to pick up the Ace and you won't have to draw three cards to get rid of the ace.)

The End Of Your Turn:--- A turn is ended like so...

  1. Throwing a Face Card into the Beg will end your turn.
  2. Drawing a card from either the deck or the Beg and then discarding a Number Card onto the Beg will end your turn.
  3. Dropping an Ace and drawing three cards from the deck will end your turn.
  4. And lastly, dropping a Joker with any other card from your hand (You MUST drop a card with the Joker) will end your turn.

How To Win:--- You win by dropping cards until you're left with only four cards. Those cards must be of different Suits (You need One Club, One Spade, One Heart, and One Diamond) and each has to be a different number, in no particular order. (Ex. 2 of Spades, 6 of Hearts, 4 of Diamonds, and 9 of Clubs) Once you have four cards with no matching Suits or numbers, you call "Bum!" and throw them down face up. Congratulations, you won Gin Bummy!

BUT WHAT IF...:---

What if you're down to four cards but you don't have four Number Cards? Since you Can't call Bum! if you still have Face cards in your hand. You have to draw a card from the deck and discard the Face Card you wish to get rid of. The only time in Gin Bummy you can draw a card from the deck and discard a Face Card is when you only have four cards left.

What if you have four cards but some are the same suit or number value? Simply draw a card from the deck and discard until you have all four cards random.

What if you run out of cards in the deck? Simple, just flip the Beg over and keep playing.

What if you threw down too many Face cards by accident or threw down a Joker and the card it took with it put you down to 3 cards in your hand. That is called Starving. This is rare but if you do starve you lose and have to discard your hand face up into the Beg.

Note that if you still have at least 4 cards you can almost always avoid starvation. Just keep drawing and throwing down Number cards until you're lucky enough to get an Ace (This is the ONLY time in the game you'll want to get an Ace.) You can throw the ace down on your next turn and draw three cards. If they’re Number cards, get rid of the Face cards and Jokers. If you’re still not out of danger yet, keep Drawing cards and discarding Number cards. Should you find yourself in the VERY unlikely situation of having only Face cards and maybe a Joker or two, then there is no way out. You have starved.


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Last updated 12th January 2007