George "Ras" Rasmussen - Tip #10

Small Hand Rule

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There are two rules to which the dealer needs to adhere. These will cover more than 95% of all situations encountered when dealing. The first is the small hand rule which pertains to far more than half the hands that are picked up. The small hand rule covers hands of eight or less points and requires thinking of combined values of hand and crib scores. This applies only to your crib and has no application when discarding to opponent. Examples follow:

2-10-4-10-3-5 - Discard 2-3 to own crib. Retain 4-5-10-10. You have six and a guaranteed two points in crib. Is there any other way to start with 8 points? By the way 2-3 has an average to own crib of 7.135.

3-6-8-6-2-J - Discard 2-3 to own crib. Retain 6-6-8-J. Most dealer can start with is four points. Maximize points by putting the strong discard to the crib. Can't justify holding 2-3 in hands such as this for a value of two points when dealing.

4-2-10-9-J-A - Discard A-4 and play 2-9-10-J. Is there any other way to start with five points? Again think of the crib as an extension of the hand (3+2).

8-7-4-6-Q-5 - Play 4-5-6-Q for 7 points and discard 7-8 for two in crib. Is there any other way to start with nine points?

J-3-6-10-7-9 - Play the five points. There is nothing to be gained by trying to do anything for your crib on a hand like this. Half the time you deal, there is no need to struggle with the discard. In hands such as this, just toss the two cards that don't work. Good-by 3-7!

2-5-10-K-8-9 - Hold 2-8-9-10 and discard 5-K. Is there any other way to start with five points? Again think of the crib as an extension of the hand, (3+2 = 5).

5-8-3-10-9-6 - Discard 3-5 and retain 6-8-9-10. Is there another way to start with seven points?

2-Q-8-7-3-7 - Hold 7-7-8-Q and discard 2-3. You know the reasons by now. We start with eight points on this hand (6+2) and put cribbage's second strongest crib builder on the table.

9-8-2-5-Q-A - Hold four points in A-5-9-Q and discard 2-8. you could also hold 2-5-8-Q and discard A-9. Chose the 2-8 as it has a higher static average to own crib than does A-9. Sacrifice limits apply to this hand. You may want to ask about those.

9-10-J-Q-4-8 - Hold the four card run. The combined value will decrease when splitting a card off the four card run. Let's say in this case, you decided to give up a point by tossing 8-9 or J-Q. This is another case where sacrifice limits apply. Neither 8-9 or J-Q is worth the sacrifice of a point in hand although the J-Q is a better discard to own crib than is the 8-9. Why might that be?

Play the game without a favorable starter card. You're likely to miss more cuts than you receive and don't believe you can improve your cutting ability. Most strong tournament players plan their hand, strategy, etc. without the benefit of the starter card. If the starter card is favorable, that is an unplanned bonus.

- Text copyright © 2009 by George Rasmussen. All rights reserved.

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