Dan Barlow - Tip #20

Previous

Learning from your mistakes can help you become a better player, but it can be painful, especially in the wallet. Let me give you a far less painful means of improving: learning from MY mistakes. I've choked away many a game through carelessness. In fact, if making mistakes truly helps you improve your game, I must be approaching perfection by now.

Recently, while playing at home (and watching Colombo at the same time), I dealt myself 2-6-9-9-10-K. I tossed the 2-K into my crib, and the cut was a 3. Only after my opponent led an 8 did I bother to look at the position on the board. I needed only eight holes to win, while my opponent needed ten. I played my 10, figuring he probably didn't have a 9, but his hand was 7-8-9-J. The four holes he pegged were just enough, as he had the right J. Had I saved 2-6-9-9 or 6-9-9-K, he would have pegged three holes or fewer, as I could have avoided the run.

While playing in the finals of a tournament a few months back, I was three holes from victory, while my opponent was six holes away. I dealt myself 4-5-5-6-10-Q and tossed the 5-Q into my crib. The cut was a K. The play proceeded:

PONE  (115):
Opponent


2-3-10-?

 play:
3  10  10 (23-2)  6  2 (31-2)    ?
  crib:   ?-?
5-Q
cut K  
4-5-6-10

DEALER  (119*):
Barlow

While my plays up to this point had been questionable, there was still a glimmer of hope. What's the better play, the 4 or the 5?

On the irrelevant grounds that my opponent was far more likely to peg on my 5 than on my 4, I led the 4. Opponent paired it and went out without needing to count his hand. What are the relevant facts? I need to peg three holes. If opponent has a 3 or a 6, I will peg out. If opponent has anything else, I won't peg out, unless he has a 4 or a 5. If he has a 4 or a 5, I can go out by pairing him. Is he more likely to have a 4 or a 5? My better play was the 5. As it happens, I got trounced in this match, so it may not have mattered that I made the wrong play.

- Text copyright 2002 by Dan Barlow. All rights reserved.

Previous

 
 Questions About Cribbage
 
 Dan Barlow's Tips
 
 John Chambers' Tips
 
 DeLynn Colvert's Tips
 
 George Rasmussen's Tips
 
 Michael Schell's Tips
 
 Available Books
 
 Learn to Talk Cribbage