George "Ras" Rasmussen - Tip #6
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In general, the dealer wants to have a strong crib and puts the
best two cards on dealer-side of the board without excessive
sacrifice to hand potential. The non-dealer selects the two cards
believed to be have low scoring potential without excessive
sacrifice to potential hand score.
For most cribbage players, their discards to the dealer will result
in cribs which average 5.0 to 5.5 points. Discards to own crib will
produce cribs which average about 4.5. So it would appear that we do
not "load" our own crib as often as possible and we do not "balk"
the opponent's crib effectively. Reversing those averages can change
the outcome of 60-70% of the games played. Inexperienced players who
play experienced players can expect to win three of each ten games
played with no apparent discarding strategy. Our goal is to equalize
play so that the better players win 57% of their games and the lower
level players are nearing 50%. This creates an environment in which
lower level players find themselves in the prize money more often
and those at the upper end of this spectrum have to improve play to
maintain a quality performance.
Some players break up their hand when they should not. Others don't
break up the hand when they should. Ask yourself these questions
prior to discarding:
- Who has the crib?
- Where am I on the board and where do I need to be?
- Where is my opponent on the board and does opponent have
desired board position?
The answers to these questions should provide the foundation for
"Keep the points in your hand" is often the advice given among
cribbage players. Sometimes this is the best advice possible. I
believe that is true on the opening hand of the game for the
nondealer. It may also be true on the closing hand of the game if
you have potential and first count. The rest of the game, that
advice might not be so valid!
Now, let's review the concept of loading own crib.
How do I load my crib and increase the point potential without
substantial damage to the count in hand? I the case of a good hand,
can I retain hand potential for twelve points or more and load my
crib? In the event of a poor hand (2-3-6-8-9-K), can
I load my crib and not give up any points?
The first concept to understand is that the deck of 52 cards has
sixteen ten-point cards; so nearly one-third of the cribbage deck
works very nicely with a five-spot or a combination which totals or
includes a 5.
So what are the best discards that can be made to your own crib and
how many points do they average? We'll group them in lots of ten for
the purposes of demonstration and comparison.
Note that all choices in this first group of ten average 6.00 or
All choices in this second group of ten average at least 5.50 and
less than 6.00.
***Only the 5-5 to own crib is worth a sacrifice in
the hand of up to four points if retaining hand potential for twelve
points or more. Notice that the 5-5 averages nearly
nine points to own crib. It is wise to sacrifice up to two points in
the hand to discard any of those choices with**. A sacrifice of one
point in the hand may be made with good effect to discard those
choices with a single *.
Of course, you often can make an excellent discard selection to your
crib with no sacrifice in points if you remember that any 5
or five point combination to the crib is worth a minimum of two
points. It is impossible to get a zero crib if you discard a
5 or five point combination to your crib. The same can be
said for a pair except the pair is less likely to work with the
starter card or your opponent's discards.
The discards which have no asterisk are reasonably good discards to
own crib although they are not worth a sacrifice of points in the
hand. You'll do lots better playing mathematical probabilities
rather than playing hunches or chasing figments of the imagination.
Remember when dealing to focus on potential combined count of hand
and crib. Such thinking will maximize number of combined points
- Republished by permission. Text copyright © 2002 by George
Rasmussen. All rights reserved.
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