John Chambers - Tip #2

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The Nondealerís Lead Card

This section is concerned with the nondealerís initial card of the Play, directly after the cut for the starter. Even though there are only four cards in your hand, the card you lead can have a dramatic effect on the way the seven other cards are played during the rest of the Play and on the amount of points you and your opponent gain during this part of the game. Consistently making errors in judgment and allowing your opponent to gain unnecessary points, during this part of the game, will make winning much more difficult.

During the Play your goal is not just to peg. Your goal is to play so that when you do peg it will assist you in getting the position you want while at the same time keeping your opponentís position in mind so that he doesnít get his desired position. It must be remembered that even with the same hand, your initial lead may be different depending on your position. This takes judgment which depends on a number of factors.

Position on the Board

Whether it is the first hand of the game or you are both in hole 119 can make a difference in deciding your initial play as the nondealer. For example, you are the nondealer and are holding the following cards, after the Discard: 2-6-7-8 and the Starter is the 4.

Situation A: It is the beginning of the game. You are at hole 12, and the dealer at hole 10*. What would your lead card be?

Solution: In this situation, even though it is the start of the game, you are in a little better position than the dealer. Considering this, you do not want to give up too many holes to your opponent. Your best lead is the 6. With any other card you could give up a lot of holes unnecessarily. For example, if you were to lead the 2 and the dealer plays a 6, 7 or 8 you have put yourself in a corner, Your only chance then is to pick a card, play it, and pray that your opponent can not play on it. Why put yourself in that position?

The 7 and 8 are a little better but also not recommended. The only time it would be a good play to lead the 7 or 8 would be if you needed the holes and wanted to play on, enticing your opponent into a pegging situation. However, this is not the case.

By leading the 6, if your opponent does play a 6, 7 or 8, you as the nondealer will have the luxury of having the choice to play on or off. If you feel it is necessary you can play into the run or you can you play the 2 and play off. With the 2 lead you have no such choice.

Situation B: You are the nondealer with the above hand. It is at the end of the game with both your opponent and yourself at hole 119. What would your lead card be?

Solution: This situation is much more obvious. Your only concern with your lead card in this situation is to minimize, as much as possible, your opponentís pegging. The only card that can do that is the 2.

Of course, the important thing with these examples is that they show that the same hand would be played differently under different circumstances. Even the starter card can have an effect on your choice.

The Proximity of Your Opponent to Your Position

Which card you play initially may depend on where your opponent is in relation to your position. Whether your opponent is ten holes ahead or ten holes behind can have an effect on your decision. As the nondealer, you are holding 2-6-7-8. The starter is the Q.

Situation A: You are the nondealer at hole 85 and the dealer is at hole 70*. What would your lead card be?

Solution: In this situation your primary thought should be to get into a good position on fourth street for your three counts. Your hand will only get you to hole 92 if you donít peg. You should play on and lead the 8. Why not the 7 instead? Your objective is to maximize your pegging and not worry too much about what your opponent does. If you lead the 7, with the intention of pegging on your opponentís next card, your opponent would have to play a 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9. However, if this doesnít work out then you are left with 2-6-8 in your hand. No matter which card you play next time, the cards left wonít leave you much to peg with. If you play the 8 first, and then play the 2 next you will increase the odds that you will be left with touching cards, 6-7. There is an increased possibility of pegging with touching cards than cards that are separated. You may think that this type of planning is like grasping at straws, but if you donít do this you are less likely to peg, more likely to need larger hands to win, and going to make it more difficult to win.

Situation B: In this situation you are the nondealer at hole 99, and the dealer is at hole 92*. What would your lead card be?

Solution: You are already in good position, especially after you count this hand. You donít want your opponent to peg too much. If your opponent is win the game let it be through the hands, not the pegging. Therefore the best lead in this situation would be the 6. Even if your opponent makes fifteen you can play off with the 2. If your opponent plays something else then you can break up the 7-8 keeping the 2 to play off with.

Situation C: You are the nondealer at hole 116, and the dealer is at hole 118*. What would your lead card be?

Solution: The 2. You canít afford to give your opponent two chances, pair and fifteen; give him only one chance, pair.

The Size of Your Hand

Whether you have a small hand or a large hand can have an effect on your strategy. Prior to playing your initial card, you should:

1. Count your hand so you will know how many points you have
2. Determine the position you want to get to and how many holes it will take
3. Determine your opponentís position in relation to yours
4. Determine how far your hand will get you and the minimum you will need to peg
5. Determine from all the above factors whether it would be better to play on or off

Situation A: You are the nondealer at hole 54, and the dealer at hole 50*. Your hand consists of 2-6-7-8 with the starter being the Q. What would your lead card be?

Solution: You should be thinking that you want to get to around hole 70, so that you can be in fair position for your next three counts to get you onto fourth street. That goal is seventeen holes away. You may not make it considering you only have seven points in your hand but your objective is to get as close as possible so you can make your next three counts more effective. Your best lead is the 8. If your opponent gets the fifteen you can get into the run to get points. There is no need to worry about your opponent at this point. Just peg as much as possible and get as close as you can.

Situation B: You have the same hand as in Situation A. You are at hole 58. The Starter card is the 7. This means that you are holding a sixteen hand. What would your lead card be?

Solution: A sixteen hand at this point means that your hand alone will get you to hole 70*. You will be in good position for your next three counts. You donít need to peg as you did in the last example. Play the 6, the best middle card.

Positional Problems

Below are a number of positional problems. Each example is broken into multiple sections, and has its own hand. However, each section (a, b, or c) will have its own Starter card, and its own unique situation. From the information given, choose the card which you would use as your initial lead card. Remember your positional holes: 18, 44, 70, and 96.

1. Nondealerís hand: 2-5-6-7

a. Starter 7: You are the nondealer at hole 20, and the dealer is at hole 16*. What would your lead card be?

b. Starter 9: You are the nondealer at hole 60, and the dealer is at hole 64*. What would your lead card be?

c. Starter K: You are the nondealer at hole 114, and the dealer is at hole 118*. What would your lead card be?

2. Nondealerís hand: 3-4-5-7

a. Starter 10: You are the nondealer at hole 39, and the dealer is at hole 35*. What would your lead card be?

b. Starter Q: You are the nondealer at hole 107, and the dealer is at hole 111*. What would your lead card be?

3. Nondealerís hand: 3-7-8-9

a. Starter 8: You are the nondealer at hole 23, and the dealer is at hole 18*. What would your lead card be?

b. Starter 2: You are the nondealer at hole 58, and the dealer is at hole 54*. What would your lead card be?

c. Starter 5: You are the nondealer at hole 115, and the dealer is at hole 117*. What would your lead card be?

4. Nondealerís hand: A-A-4-7

a. Starter K: You are the nondealer at hole 40, and the dealer is at hole 44*. What would your lead card be?

b. Starter 10: You are the nondealer at hole 55, and the dealer is at hole 51*. What would your lead card be?

5. Nondealerís hand: A-6-7-8

a. Starter 2: You are the nondealer at hole 45, and the dealer is at hole 38*. What would your lead card be?

b. Starter J: You are the nondealer at hole 34, and the dealer is at hole 38*. What would your lead card be?

c. Starter K: You are the nondealer at hole 111, and the dealer is at hole 116*. What would your lead card be?

Solutions

1a. 6.
1b. 7. You are a little bit short. By playing the seven you may bait your opponent into making a fifteen. You then will be able to peg a few holes.
1c. 2.

2a. 4.
2b. 7. Thatís right, the 7. At this point in the game you canít afford to play it safe. You need fourteen points to win and you only have seven. This means you must peg. You must keep your run intact. By playing the 7, your opponent may think you are baiting him so you can start a run.

3a. 9.
3b. 8. With this hand you will need to peg a little.
3c. 3.

4a. One of the aces. Your opponent is already in position and your objective is to keep him from pegging. Your opponent is less likely to have an A since you have two As. If he does pair, you get the pairs royal.
4b. 4. Your opponent doesnít have very good position so you donít have to be as cautious. If he pairs, get the fifteen.

5a. 6.
5b. 8.
5c. A.

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

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