

You're pone at 111. Dealer is two holes out at 119*. You
kept 55JK after tossing 27.
The cut is a 3. Which tencard do you
lead? What do you play on an 8 reply? 
hide answers
Dan Barlow:
Dealer knows I need 10 points, and that I'm more likely to save a
J than a K, because it might give me
one of those points. Of course, whether he would save his own
J to peg on me, or toss his own to keep me from pegging on
him (he doesn't know I have enough, after all) is the question. I
don't know the answer, but I would lead the K. On his
8, I would play the J. This loses if
he has an A, 2 or 3.
Playing a 5 loses if he has a 5,
7, 8, 44, 62,
or if he plays a 4 or a 6 and doesn't
have to play another card. Or if he plays a low card, I play my
other 5 for a Go, and he later pairs or traps my
J. Or...
The point is, he may be playing the 8 from
38, but I would gamble he's playing it from 78JQ
or some other hand with no low card. I expect to lose this game
almost every time, no matter what I do.
John Chambers:
In this situation you would lead the K. You would
not play the J because that is the most likely kept
tenth card, and of course, you would not lead a 5.
Let's face it. The only way you are going to win is if you can count
your hand. Being the dealer, your opponent will peg one point during
the play. So you can't afford to let your opponent peg anything. If
my opponent played an 8 making the count 18 I would
then play my J to make 28. Remember, you can't let
your opponent peg, and getting the play as close to 31 is the best
way to do that.
DeLynn Colvert:
A good player will play you for a K, so lead a
J, unless you have a poor player as your opponent.
Then play a 5 on the 8 response. Three
8s beat you this way, no worse than the three
3s that beat you making the count 28, and this way you
unload a dangerous 5.
George Rasmussen:
My lead in endofgame situations is the K. In other
places on the board, it would be the J. That's
another story. In end of game pegging, the K is the
least likely card to be retained by a dealer needing two points to
win. If an 8 is the response to my K
lead, then I have to drop a 5 for a count of 23. The
fact that a 3 is on the deck doesn't change that,
although one might be tempted to make the count 28 after seeing the
3. Making the count lower may also increase the
number of cards the dealer will play. That makes it less likely
dealer will get two pegs (dealer may only get one go on the
lower count of 23). And you don't have to consider leading from
55 as well. Remember there are lots of ways to score
on a 5 rather than by taking 15. A 46
or 67 often results in a run of three and 15 or go
to claim a game. You've got enough to win if you can limit dealer to
that single go.
Michael Schell:
Dealer, in an obvious offensive pegging situation, is more likely to
have kept a J than a K, since from ten
holes out, I'm more likely to have kept this rank too. So my
K lead is less likely to be immediately paired
than the J. On the other hand, if dealer does have a
J, it'll probably end up on top of my J
anyway, and a J is much more vulnerable to being trapped into a run.
I'm not sure where this shakes out at this particular score. Over the
board I'd probably lead the K, but I suspect it's pretty
much a tossup.
On the 8 reply, I could play high with the second
tencard, hoping that dealer has no cards lower than a 4,
in which case I'll notch the first go. The problem is that a competent
opponent would have kept at least one low card if it was possible
to do so. Though I'm not fast enough to calculate this over the board, I
can tell you that allowing for the 2 and 3
I've already seen, there's a 74.2% chance that dealer was dealt at least
one A, 2 or 3 (without
those two sighted low cards it would increase 81.1% ). If dealer kept
at least one A, 2 or 3,
then making the count 28 will lose immediately. Thus playing high wins
only if:
 I hit the 25.8% flip side, and
 Dealer doesn't have a 34, 46,
67 or a single 5 to trap of one of my
5s, and
 Dealer's last three cards don't add up to 21, which would give
him a 312 on the second play series
Alternatively I can make the count 23 with a 5, hoping
to steal last card by trapping dealer
with two mismatched low cards (or 6A). This also leaves
me with the more manageable 5x, instead of the awkward
55. I'll still lose to a single 5 or a
34, and I'll also lose to dealer's second 8,
or a 4, 6 or 7 that's
unaccompanied by a low card. But given the likelihood that dealer saved
as many low cards as practical here, I think going as low above 21 as
possible is the thematic play, and will win a bit more often in the long
run than going to 28.
If dealer had played a 9 instead of an 8,
then I think the balance would tip in favor of playing high.
Phyllis Schmidt:
Lead the K, the card dealer is least likely to be
holding. Play a 5 on the 8, and hope he
has two cards that play and not be a run.
Peter Setian:
Holding the dealer to one peg is always a tough job. I would lead
the J, for the simple fact that if the dealer does
not have a J, he/she will never be able to "back
into" a three card run with your K. There are many
ways to make a three card run with a J (without using
a K). On an 8 reply, I would make the
count 23. We know the dealer doesn't have a 5 (and
very possibly a 3). I'd say the dealer has a better
chance of having to either play two (nonmatching) cards on
him/herself under 31, or getting a go yourself with the second
5, as opposed to getting a go at 28. And, even
if all the dealers cards were 4 or higher and you got
that go at 28, you now are stuck with two 5s and the
dealer is leading from three cards (4 or higher),
with a decent chance to score a three card run (especially
756).
HALSCRIB:
As the play starts, I have no better than a 14% chance of winning
the game by holding dealer to a single peg. My calculations suggest
that the J, not the K, is the
percentage lead. If the K lead isn't paired, the J is
still vulnerable to a 910 or 10Q
trap. But if the J lead is not paired, the
K cannot be trapped. That gives a narrow edge to
leading the
J, despite dealer's bias toward retaining a J
over a K in an offensive pegging situation.
On the 8 reply, I'm dropping a 5.
Given the board position, dealer will be strongly biased to keep as
many low cards as possible. If she plays a 6 or
higher and has no low cards, or in the unlikely event she says go,
we will lose, as will be the case if she has a pair of 4s
or lower. But we'll turn a loss into a win if we trap her with
A2, A3, A4,
23 or 24. That's enough to give the
5 a narrow edge over playing high with the second
tencard to maximize my chances of notching the first go.
Panelists
Dan Barlow won the 1980 National Open Cribbage
Tournament, and made the 1985 All American Cribbage Team. His cribbage
strategy articles appeared in Cribbage World for many years, and
can be seen on the
ACC Web site.
He also provides strategy tips at
MSN
Gaming Zone. He has written seven books on cribbage, two of which have been glowingly reviewed in Games Magazine. All, including his latest book Winning Cribbage Tips, are available at
The Cribbage Bookstore.
John Chambers was one of the original founding
members of the ACC. He is a Grand Master, winner of seven major
tournaments, and author of
Cribbage: A New Concept, He also directs three annual
tournaments: the Ocean State Cribbage Classic, New England Peer
Championship and Charity Cribbage Challenge.
DeLynn Colvert (1931–2019) is the highest rated tournament player in the history of organized cribbage. He was a fivetime National Champion, author of
Play Winning Cribbage, longtime editor of the monthly magazine Cribbage World,
and the ACC's only Life Master  Seven Stars. He also directed two annual tournaments in Missoula, MT, served as the ACC's President, and was one of the game's most affable emissaries. It's scarcely an exaggeration to say that Colvert's career defines modern cribbage. George "Ras" Rasmussen is a Life Master  Two Stars, a fourtime AllAmerican, the national Grass Roots Division 1 champion in 2009, a former state champion in Virginia, Montana and Washington, and holds a Gold Award and a President's Award. He also directs the Washington
State Championship, held each year in Centralia, WA. His articles on
cribbage are available on the
ACC Web site.
Michael Schell is a pioneer of modern cribbage theory, which synthesizes traditional concepts of expert play with new computerinformed insights and analysis. He has published Cribbage Forum since 2000. Schell holds a Bronze Award, is a Washington State Champion (2001), and was one of the principal architects of ACC Internet Cribbage.
Phyllis Schmidt is a charter member of the ACC, and has been
playing cribbage for about 40 years. She is a Life Master  One Star, a
Senior Judge, a National Champion (1992) and winner of the ACC Tournament of Champions (2005). She attends about 30
tournaments a year.
Peter Setian has played cribbage for over 20 years, and has
been a member of the ACC for about 14 years. During that time, he has
won seven major tournaments and earned his Life Master rating. He plays
in about eight tournaments per year, including the ACC Tournament of
Champions and the annual Grand National. He enjoys participation in
Grass Roots Club #72.
HALSCRIB is widely regarded as the world's strongest computer
cribbage player. Its opinion was solicited using a special analysis
version of the program. Since HALSCRIB only speaks binary, its thoughts
have been translated into English by Michael Schell and its creator, Hal Mueller, a retired mathematics professor and eighttime ACC tournament winner. For more information, see the
HALSCRIB home page.
