George "Ras" Rasmussen - Tip #8

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Should you lead the deuce when holding three ten-point cards?

Let's look at this in simple terms first. In DeLynn Colvert's book he says count the cards that will score. If you lead the 2 there are three potential cards that could score, and they are all deuces. If you lead one of the ten point cards, there are seven cards potentially that could score (5-5-5-5 and x-x-x). This would suggest that your lead of the x is more than twice as likely to produce points than leading the 2. Also by leading the deuce, you have a chance to pair a ten-point card if dealer plays one first. Dealer will be holding a double run of ten-cards, or ten-cards with one or more 5s, nearly 40% of the time.

For those who worry about dealer making the count eleven on the deuce lead (which will require you to make the count 21), let's take a look at what happens to a 9 in dealer's hand. Of the ten most frequent dealer discards to his or her own crib, 6-9, 8-9 and 7-9 stand out. When we look at the next group of ten, there's the 9-10, and a short distance down the list is the 9-9. There is a high percentage chance that if dealer started with a 9, it is now in the crib. Secondly, if a 9 is retained, most often it is retained with other middle cards or 3s. Only in the case of 6-9-10-J (the 6 could be any other card), 9-10-10-J or some other double run from a 9 upwards, or 5-9-10-J, is a 9 present with ten-point cards. Those hands do cause some vulnerability to you if the 9 is used to make the count 11, but they will be in play only about 10% of the time. Play the percentages. If you looked at this over many pegging scenarios, for each 100 pegs that the 2 lead would produce, the x lead would garner the dealer 233 pegs.

Don't pay too much attention to the table advice offered. Many players have heavy biases based on hunches, etc. You are much better off to play the percentages even if you got burned the last time you tried it.

- Text copyright 2004 by George Rasmussen. All rights reserved.

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