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DeLynn Colvert - Tip #4

The dealer 5-card trap

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Setting traps in pegging can net tidy sums of points and can be the deciding factor in the game. The easiest card to trap is the 5, the next easiest to trap is the J, then the A, the 2, and then the 3.

The Dealer 5-Card Trap

Trapping the 5 when you're the dealer: the key is at least two cards that combine with a 5 to form a run (3-4, 4-6, 6-7) and then pegging so that Jake cannot safely dump his 5 (or 5s) without risking retaliation of a pair or run. Let's go through one example of the dealer trapping a 5: you are the dealer and hold 3-6-7-8. Jake leads a K. Respond with your 8 for 18. Jake may dump his 5 here, but the odds are he will play an x ("ten" card) trying for the go at the count of 28. You then play your 3 for 31. The trap is sprung. Unless Jake is a very shrewd player, he will probably lead his remaining x at this point, and you follow with your 7 for 17. Jake's trapped 5 is played for 22 and you follow with your 6 for a run of three and a go -- scoring four points. This trap nets five or six points, and results in Jake being blanked.

The trap has a good chance of succeeding if Jake has two 5s. But the odds are he will dump a 5 at the count of 18, and escape the trap. A player of lesser skill probably would not dump his 5 at this point, and would be trapped. The key to the trap is, of course, keeping the 3-4, 4-6, or in the example, the 6-7, for your last two cards to catch your opponent's 5.

This example also illustrates the advantage of keeping a Magic Eleven. For example, your hand contains 3-6-7-8-9-K. You are both within pegging range to win the game. Discard the 9-K (ordinarily a poor discard to your crib). The chance of a 5 trap, plus a pegging shutout (with the "eleven") make this the correct play.

A pegging tip: If your last two cards are 5-x and your opponent does not have a "ten" card on the table, and it is your lead, play the 5! You will escape any planned traps by your opponent! You will lead into a 15-2 at times, but this is preferable to a run of three (which will occur more often than the 15-2).

- Republished from Play Winning Cribbage by permission. Text copyright © 2002 by DeLynn Colvert. All rights reserved.

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