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John Chambers - Tip #17

The discard: two three-card runs

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Some people break up their hand when they shouldn't, others don't break it up when they should. How do you know what is the right thing to do?

When deciding to discard from a hand with two three-card runs, three pairs, to pairs royal, or a nineteen hand, you should ask a number of important questions:

  • Whose Crib is it?
  • What hole am I at? How many holes do I need to get into position?
  • What hole is my opponent at? How many holes does my opponent need to get into position?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the discard to make.

Two Three Card Runs
(Assuming there isn't a flush)


Assume you are holding this hand. You are at hole 95. Your opponent is at hole 91 and it is his deal. You ask yourself those important questions.

Whose Crib is it? My Opponent's.

What hole am I at? Hole 95.

How many holes do I need to get into position? I am already at the minimum designated position with this hand to count.

What hole is my opponent at? Hole 91.

How many holes does my opponent need to get into position? He has his three counts starting now and needs five extra holes above the average. You know that if he doesn't get far enough down Fourth Street, on the next hand you will get your three counts.

You now realize that your opponent has a long way to go, while you are already in position and can get better position with your present hand. If your opponent should get a nineteen hand at this point, you'll be in very good position for your three counts.

Remember, you have no control over the amount of points your opponent gets in his hand. However, to a certain extent you have control over the Crib and the Play. You can either play on or play off.

With the above tip in mind you realize that you want to make winning the game as tough for your opponent as possible. Therefore you will play off in both the Discard and the Play.

Discard options - Opponent's Crib


Keep four points while breaking up his Crib. 2-6 is your best discard.

Assume that you have the Crib with the above hand. You realize that your position is fairly good since you have your three counts. With average hands and crib you should win. What should your discard be in this situation?

Discard options - Your Crib


Keep as many points as you can. You need the extra points to go out on your next hand. 3-4 is your best discard.


Assume you are at hole 85 while your opponent is at hole 75. It is your opponent's crib.

To get into position on Fourth Street, you need at least an average hand along with a little pegging. If you don't at least make it onto Fourth Street, you opponent will probably have good position for his three counts next time. What should your discard be? Remember to ask those important questions each time.

Discard options - Opponent's Crib


Keep as many points as possible to get you as far up on fourth street as possible. Even if he gets a good Crib, chances are it won't put him in a better position than you. 7-9 is the best discard. During the Play, it will probably benefit you, more than your opponent, to play on.

Now assume that it is your Crib with the above hand and the above position. What will your strategy be?

You realize you are in excellent position to get onto Fourth Street for your three counts. For minimum position you need only ten points in three hands, while your opponent needs twenty points in one hand. You can use your Hand and Crib to get into position, so play off in the Play so your opponent won't get any extra points to help his position. During the Play, in this situation, you should never pair or play into a run. If your opponent does have a twelve or fourteen hand, you may help him get the position he wants by playing on.

Discard options - Your Crib


Keep your points and also put close cards in the Crib. 8-9 is the best discard. The 4-5 is also a good discard. However, you have a better chance of pegging when you keep the cards with the 8-9 discard.


Assume that it is a relatively close game on Fourth Street. You are at hole 92, while your opponent is at hole 97. He has the Crib and needs only twenty-four points in his three hands. This means that on the average, he will be in good position to win the game. Therefore, you need to pull out all the stops and be as defensive as possible. Remember, you need only three points to get into fair position. Now ask those important questions and decide your discard strategy.

Discard options - Opponent's Crib


6-Q is the best discard. By making this discard you have thrown wide cards which will tend to break up the Crib; kept four points which will at least get you to hole 96, not counting any incidental pegging; and you can use the 4 to play off as the initial card in the Play. It is the best all-around discard. Remember to play off in the Play as much as possible.

Now assume you and your opponent are at the above positions, but it is your Crib. You have three counts, but it is a long way to go. Ask those important questions and decide your strategy.

Discard options - Your Crib


Mathematically and in every other way, 4-6 is the best discard. You will also need to play on in this situation, unless you receive a very big hand.

- Republished from Cribbage: A New Concept by permission. Text copyright © 2002 by John Chambers. All rights reserved.

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