About Gin Rummy’s History

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Teaser Gin Rummy History

As a little refresher between the Gin strategy, we take a trip into the past this time. Did you know, for example, that Gin Rummy has been around longer than Rummy? As usual with card games, there are several different explanations for the true origins of the game of Gin, so let’s start at the beginning.

Playing Cards in Europe and America

Playing cards and related playing pieces are currently believed to have originated in what is now East and South Asia. The stones and pieces reached Europe via the Silk Road in the High to Late Middle Ages, where playing cards were banned by the church in many places.

Obviously, bans weren’t able to permanently curb the popularity of card games, and the invention of the printing press in the 15th century meant that playing cards could now be produced faster, with less effort, and therefore more cheaply.

As a result, card games were no longer only available to the wealthy in Europe and became more and more widespread in the following centuries. The design of the French card suits in Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds also dates from this period, as France, and Lyon in particular, was one of the centers of playing card production.

Gin Rummy History: playing cards journey

With the European discovery of the Americas, the subsequent colonization of their inhabited areas, and finally, the strong flow of immigrants from Europe, card games also reached the two continents.

Predecessors of Gin Rummy

Mainly two card games that operate according to the principle of draw and discard, like Gin Rummy, are considered possible ancestors of Gin Rummy: the Chinese Khanhoo and the Mexican Conquian.


A card game first appeared under this name in China’s Ming Dynasty (14th-17th century). However, it was a trick-taking game. But by the end of the Qing dynasty in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the card game behind that name had developed into a game of drawing, discarding, and melding.

In this form, the playing card enthusiast William Henry Wilkinson became acquainted with the game as a British consul in China and Korea.

He arranged for the Khanhoo rules to be published in England in the 1890s, whereby the card suits of the Chinese original were transferred to French suits.

Modified in this way, the game may have reached the USA, where the first set of Gin Rummy rules was established in 1909. More on this soon.

Gin Rummy History: Khanhoo or Conquian


Conquian is usually played with a deck in Spanish suits, although it is also possible to play with French suits. Apart from that, the game’s core elements are quite similar to Gin Rummy already: The aim is to draw cards, combine them in melds, and discard them in order to finally end the game with a fully melded hand.

This game first appeared in Mexico in the mid-19th century. In the USA, the first rough written version of the rules appeared in 1887 under the name Coon Can. Ten years later, the rules were described in more detail alongside the fact that the game became increasingly popular, especially in Texas and other states bordering the USA and Mexico. In the first decade of the 20th century, the game became established in large parts of the USA and also reached England in 1912. As usual, numerous game variants developed during this period of popularity. Certainly, Gin Rummy was also inspired by Conquian.

Gin Rummy by Baker from Brooklyn

Gin Rummy History: First Ruleset

Numerous online sources name Elwood Thomas Baker and his son Charles Graham Baker as Gin Rummy’s inventors in 1909 in Brooklyn, New York. This presumably stems from an entry in the 1957 rules collection Culbertson’s Card Games Complete.

Whether the Bakers called their invented set of rules Gin Rummy or Gin Poker is not clear today. There are matching descriptions of the rules under both names from the game’s early days. However, Gin Rummy has prevailed to this day.

Gin Rummy became more and more popular towards the end of the 1920s. One reason for this is thought to be the Great Depression, during which people increasingly had to entertain themselves at home at low cost.

Compared to other card games of the time, Gin Rummy was easier to learn and suited a family setting better than betting games such as poker.

Gin Rummy and Hollywood

After its initial surge in popularity, Gin Rummy remained dormant until the 1940s, when it once again flourished in Hollywood. Gin was played both on camera and during filming breaks. After all, the rules are quickly understood, and the game’s progress is not lost during an interruption on a busy film set.

Gin Rummy History: Hollywood

In addition, a Gin variant that is still popular today, Hollywood Gin, emerged at this time. Essentially, it is a modified scoring system that allows players to play three games of Gin Rummy at the same time.

Gin Rummy Descendants

Gin isn’t just still around as a popular, fast-paced card game, it is also the origin of numerous games that we now group into the Rummy family.

In principle, it includes any game that involves drawing and discarding cards to form groups of cards.

One example is the card game we know as Rummy today, which only developed after Gin Rummy became popular.

The second example we would like to mention here is Canasta. It was developed in Uruguay in 1939 specifically to combine interesting aspects of Rummy with the entertainment value of Bridge.

Gin Rummy History: Rummy Family

Of course, there are countless other members of the Rummy family as well as variants of each, but we are still talking about Gin Rummy here. So how did Gin Rummy itself evolve?

Gin Rummy Online and Digital

With a globally known and accessible set of rules, it was only a matter of time before Gin Rummy made it to the digital age.

Card games found their way into the digital world via personal computers: the first PCs appeared in the 1980s. Over time, Microsoft’s operating systems came with the first pre-installed game packs. Most people who were around at the time will most likely remember Solitaire in particular.

In the meantime, access to computers and the Internet has become commonplace, and instead of a home computer, many people always have mobile devices at their fingertips.

Gin Rummy History: Gin Rummy Online at the Gin Rummy Palace

As people naturally want to play, there are constantly numerous new games for PCs, consoles, and as apps.

Yet classic card games are also being made available in this new form, for example here at the Palace of Cards. This also applies to Gin Rummy: Since 2023, you can play Gin Rummy live online against players from all over the world at the Gin Rummy Palace. Feel free to drop by for a few rounds!