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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
3b. 8. With this hand you will need to peg a little.
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.
- Republished from Cribbage: A New Concept by
permission. Text copyright © 2002 by John Chambers. All rights
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