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Discarding in Gin-Rummy. Understanding Safety values
Discarding strategy basics
While playing gin-rummy, on each your move you will need to discard one of your eleven cards. Which card to select? You can play offensively or defensively, but there is also an independent conception of "safe" discard. To discard safely means to minimize the possibility of using this thrown card by your opponent. It is better if your opponent draws the unknown card from the stock, instead of taking the open card to build a spread.
Supposing that we have a single card, let it be D9 . There are no adjacent cards around in the hand and no such cards have show in discard. So, if discarded, this card can give our opponent a meld if they have in their hands at least one of the next card combinations:
Three combinations to form sets from Nines and three combinations to form possible runs. So that, the pure wild card have six chances to be used and thus has a 6 safety value.
Let's take the outmost card instead of central Nine, for example the King. It has the same number of sets, but only one run. The same as for Aces. So the wild King and Ace have a safety value 4. The neighbouring Queens ans Deuces can be used in three sets, but only in two runs, so the wild Queens and Deuces have a safety value of 5. Though it is only one point from 6 to 5 it is a quite considerable value - about 17% difference.
During a game of course, you should not place Aces and Deuces at the same discarding category as Kings and Queens, because of their low values, that can help your opponent to cut the deadwood to 10 points. In general, discarding such low cards early in the game is a bad idea at all, unless you have a very good hand.
Suppose you have not this set of Tens, but a set of Jacks or just one Jack of Diamonds in your hand (it is one hole between DJ and D9). Similar to the last example, there will be 2 runs and 3 sets available, so a safety value will be 5.
You must obtain information not only from your own cards, but from opponent's draws and discards. Suppose you have this D9 in your hand with D8 and opponent discarded H9. That means the safety value for our D9 will be 1 - only one run available (D0,DJ), because they do not have two Nines in their hand almost for sure. If your hand is so good, that you do not need to take an extra Nine to build a card triangle, your D9 looks quite safe for discarding.
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