Maximum Deadwood

For those of you who’ve read the Gin Rummy Deadwood Distribution on the previous post, we know the average deadwood dealt on a hand is 57. 

To the left of the graph we reach zero deadwood.  It’s easy to imagine being dealt a hand that has no deadwood.  Wouldn’t that be nice!


To the right of the graph we almost reach 100 deadwood, but not quite. 

 So, what the maximum deadwood is for a hand?


Deadwood Refresher

Let’s have a quick refresher on counting deadwood.  Deadwood are any cards in your hand that you can’t use in a group or run. 

Kings, Queens, Jacks and Tens count as 10 deadwood points and all other cards count at face value.  Aces are 1 deadwood point. 

Take the sum of the points for each unusable card in your hand and that is your deadwood points.

An important point to remember is that you can’t use the same card in a group and a run at the same time.


*** Spoiler alert!  ***

Take some time to figure out the highest amount of deadwood points or scroll down to see the answer.


1,000 Words Worth

Here’s a snapshot of the maximum deadwood in a hand from

Cards are laid out by suit from left to right in ascending order.  This view is pre-sorted which makes it easy to pick out groups and runs.  Groups go up and down, runs go from left to right.  No need to slide cards around in your hand.

This hand is a combination of the highest five cards.  There are 2 Kings, 2 Queens, 2 Jacks, 2 Tens and 2 Nines.  Not a single group or run. 

It’s 100% pure deadwood for a whopping 98 points!

You can’t add in another Ten, Jack, Queen or King because that would create a group of 3 cards reducing the deadwood by at least 30.  Using a smaller card, like an 8 or 7 would only bring the deadwood total down.


What is the Probability of getting the Max Deadwood?

There are 15,820,024,220 possible 10 card hands you can be dealt.


To figure out how many combinations of 98-point deadwood hands is tricky.  I wrote a script using the AI system to output all possible combinations.  It found 1,584 in total. 

15,820,024,220 divided by 1,584 is 9,987,389. 


Bottom Line

You might encounter a 98-pointer once every 10 million deals. 

While this looks daunting there are 11 cards that can improve your hand.  Hopefully you’ll pick up a few before your opponent knocks!


Deadwood Distribution

For a regular Gin Rummy player it’s an automatic reflex to calculate deadwood points with a new hand. 

If you have a high amount of deadwood points and not many cards that can improve your hand, it’s a common approach to jettison a few.  This reduces your exposure if your opponent does a quick knock.

That seems logical but what’s considered a high amount?  If we know what’s abnormally high vs run of the mill, we can make a more informed decision.

Number Crunching

I used Yimmaw’s AI components to generate 250,000 deals and had it calculate the average deadwood. 

Any given hand can have more than one arrangement of groups and runs which may have different deadwood amounts.  For our purposes we’re going to choose the lowest amount of deadwood.  That may not be the best way to play the hand, but it allows us to make a reasonable estimate of a deadwood amount.

Normal Distribution

The average deadwood is 56.6 and the standard deviation is 13.76. 

This tells us that 68% of the deals (1 standard deviation) give us between 42.84 and 70.36 deadwood points on average.  Over 70 deadwood points becomes more and more rare.  That doesn’t mean you necessarily have a bad hand but if you don’t get the cards you’re looking for you are liable for a truckload of points.

Bottom Line

Most of the time you’re going to be dealt a hand between 43 and 70 deadwood points with an average of 57.  That gives you at least some perspective on what an average and high amount of deadwood points is.


Gin Rummy Tournaments

Tournament Schedule

It's time to test your skills by joining one of our regular Gin Rummy tournaments. 

It is open to all skill levels, free and no ads.  You can't beat it!

Tournaments are held:

  • Friday nights 8pm ET,
  • Saturday and Sunday at 10am and 8pm ET. 

Tournaments start automatically on time.  Computer opponents will be added as necessary.

Tournament matches are to 150 points.  Winners advance to the next bracket.

We'd recommend you sign in to at least a minute or two before the tournament starts.  You may want to get on a little earlier to gets some reps in!


How to Join

Joining a tournament is simple.  

  1. Tap the Calendar icon
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  3. Tap the Join button

See you on-line!