What purpose do the bonus points after a player wins a game of Gin Serve?

Let's say two players agree to play a game to 100 points. At the end of the game, the typical rules call for bonus points to be awarded: 25 points for each winning hand, 100 points to the winner, double points for a shutout... Why?

If I was the player that reached 100 first, what good are even more points?
I'm assuming that this is a method for placing wagers on the game?
And how (if at all) do bonus points factor into games where the players agree to a "best of five games (e.g.) arrangement?

1 Answer 1


The most common way of betting money on Gin Rummy (according to this site) is to choose a rate per point (say $1) that the loser pays the winner - e.g. if you lose 70 to 220, you pay $150. When you're playing for money, there's probably an approximate stake you want to play for - smaller stakes will feel trivial (who wants to win one penny?) but larger stakes could be devastating if you lose. Without bonus points, a win could be anywhere from 1 point to ~150, and there may be no per-point rate which is non-trivial when multiplied by 1 yet non-devastating multiplied by 150. Bonus points - say 100 for winning - are a simple way to decrease this variance, since now spreads will be between 101 and ~250, so the worst possible loss is only ~2.5 times as bad (or good, for the other guy) as the closest possible spread.

As far as I can tell, best-of-5 matches tend to be played in settings where bonus points are not relevant, e.g. tournaments where all that matters is who wins the match.

  • Won't 100 for winning make the spread worse? The winner is already ahead (definition of winning); now they get 100 for winning, 25 for each hand won, double for shutout, etc. -- all these things put the winner still further ahead. IOW, you've got the bonus points backward. Shutout -- you get 100 for the win, 25 for each hand played (since you won them all), and double for shutout, that looks like 500-600 points from a 100 point game.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 25, 2018 at 18:28
  • 1
    The key idea is that what matters is the ratio between the biggest possible win and the smallest possible win. So if the win bonus were a thousand points, that would decrease the variance because you could play for a penny a point and find yourself paying almost exactly $10 for every loss. Whereas without any bonuses if you wanted to be playing for approximately $10, you'd have to set it at say 50 cents per point instead, and then sometimes you'd find yourself paying just 50 cents and sometimes shelling out $50, depending on the final spread. Jul 25, 2018 at 19:18
  • Now I see what you're doing -- might want to include that level of information in the answer.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 25, 2018 at 19:23

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