DeLynn Colvert - Tip #9

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The End Game

Offensive Pegging

Offensive pegging: you need pegs to beat Jake, the "snake". This situation takes guile to beat the good player. Leading from a small pair may not be the effective lead. Even leading from a small card may not be the best lead. Entice the play, control the cards that Jake can play safely. Lead your "sleeper" card. Camouflage your hand. Work the traps. Keep two cards for last that will count for you (a pair or two cards that add to fifteen). If counters can't be held for last, keep two cards that could combine into a run (with luck).

Know your opponent's habits. If you know Jake plays a 9, if possible (and most players do), on 4 leads when you are playing desperation offense, and you have a 4 and a 9, then, of course, play the 4 and pair the 9!

If you need six or more pegging points to win the game, you need the luck of the deal. The best way to peg six or more is with a pair of small cards -- As or 2s preferably. Try to work a trap with the count past 21. For example, you are dealt A-A-8-9-J-Q. Keep the A-A-8-9. You must hope for a "ten" card lead and, depending on whether you need four pegs or six, play your 9 (you need four pegs) or your 8 (you need six pegs). A good player like Jake will be extremely hard to trap, but an average player can be nailed from time to time. If you are not fortunate to be dealt a small pair in this situation, then concentrate on trapping your opponent into long runs, or keeping any pairs for your last two cards in a desperate try for a trap for pairs royal. Js work best for this trap.

Also, when six or more pegs are needed to win the game, try to keep a 4-5-6 combination for your last two cards (4-6, 4-5, 5-6) and hope for a run of three trap (and 15-2) with your last cards for a nifty six pegs. What a shocker when you can pull if off!

Need ten or more pegs? You must keep a pair of 7s or smaller for the last desperate four of a kind on the peg. I have seen many, many players throw away their chances to win by leading from a small pair (7s or smaller) when their only chance to win is to score four of a kind for twelve pegs. You must hold the pair for last for a chance to win.

In offensive pegging, never lead a card that will cut off your chances to score. Example: You need three pegs and hold 8-9-10-J. Never lead the 9 or 10. They cut your chances to peg dramatically. Leading the 9 forces all your winners off the play. But by leading from the end of this run you have a slight chance to score. You lead the 8, get a pair of Js, Leading the J, you may score a pair of 8s. Keep you chances alive. Think!

Another example: You hold 2-6-7-K and need at least two pegs to win. The sleeper 2 is an excellent card to draw a 6 or 7 response.

And count the cards that will score for you. I lost a very important game needing but two points to win, holding 4-5-10-J. I led the 4 and lost the game! I didn't count the winners before playing. Leading the 4 with my opponent playing desperation defense, gave me but six logical winners...three 10s and three Js. The correct lead was the 10 (the 10 is held slightly less than the J, and I didn't want this lead paired!). The 10 could draw a 5 (three winners), but more likely an A (four winners) or a 4 (three winners) for a total of ten likely winners. Leading the 4 gave me only six likely winners. A very bad play, indeed! My opponent did hold a 4 and would most likely have played it on my 10 lead for a winner! Don't play impulsively -- count the winners. And don't play hunches. Control the peg with some old fashioned logic. Keep thinking!

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

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