Gin-Go and the Joker

I’m well aware that people play their cards differently from one another. So, of course, people

will make card spreads based on how they feel their luck is going. However, when playing Gin-Go, I find many players will make a quick meld at the beginning of a hand when getting a joker.

If dealt a few cards, and the Joker will help me end the hand, I say go for it. This way, you go out capturing the cards in your opponent’s hand. However, if dealt five cards or more, I tend to hold onto the Joker and build the hand to see if I can get as many spreads out of the hand as possible (maybe two or three). Of course, this is me, especially when looking at the placement of chips on the Gin-Go game board. Do I need low-end or mid-, or high-end spreads? Do I need to block or break a link?

Gin-Go and capturing a Joker

When going out and capturing a Joker, let it be the last card you use to place a chip. Add it to an existing meld (open-ended spread) on the table. Otherwise, it cannot be used. Place all other chips to match “captured” cards first, and then add the Joker to the spread that gives you a strategic advantage on the game board.

Deference to the Gin-Go Board

Gin-Go, particularly a one-on-one game, can be short or exhaustingly challenging when taking in “playing time.” Team games are usually faster because more cards are captured; hence more chips are placed on the board. In the first few deals, players make spreads haphazardly.

Whatever comes, goes. When the placement of chips on the board starts taking form, it’s time

to let the board direct the type of spreads a player needs to make. Again asking the questions -- Do I need low-end or mid-, or high-end spreads? Do I need to block or break a link? What

specific suit do I need to win, Hearts, Diamonds, etc.? What specific suit do I need to block my opponent? Paying attention to how the board is forming is as crucial as playing your cards.


Outside of winning, the second most important goal is to stay alive to the next

hand. Play whatever cards you need to play to keep the game going until you make the

connection and win! It only takes one hand.

Also, long games can be photographed and resumed at a later date.


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