|Score 108*-97. You kept 7-8-9-9,
tossing yourself 4-K. The cut is a
7 and pone leads an 8.
What's your play?
Keeping him from pegging three or four will take some luck if he
has 20 or 21. Half the hands that would give him 20 or 21 don't
include a pair of 8s, so pairing the 8
isn't a bad play, especially as it prevents a run, at least for the
moment. Odds are heavily against both of us having 20+, so I prefer
to concentrate on keeping him from pegging eight if he has a 16 hand
(6-7-8-9, 6-8-9-9, 6-8-8-9
or 6-6-8-9). In each of these cases, playing the
7 is disastrous. Playing the 9 could
be bad (if it gets paired). Pairing the 8 is safe if
he has three of these hands, and I'm not quite dead even if he pairs
my 8 with 6-8-8-9. So, I pair the
8. My guess is that he led that 8 just
to throw a scare into me, and his hand is 3-4-4-8.
In this situation your goal is to keep your opponent from getting
too far down on Fourth Street. You want to keep your opponent far
enough from going out so you have a chance to count your hands. My
first thought if my opponent leads an 8 is that he
has another and wants to peg. Your opponent must have 7s
and 8s. I would play a 9. If your
opponent pairs your 9 then your opponent will get two
for the pair plus a go or 31. If your opponent plays a 7
for 24-3, you can play your seven for 31-4. If your opponent plays
another 8 for a count of 25 it could be a go or 31.
Because of your opponent's lead and the cards in your hand, I
believe playing the 9 is the safest play.
Your opponent needs 24 to win so I would assume a possible 16 hand.
Giving up four pegs is OK, so I would play a 9 on his
8. If you give up a run to an 8,
you'll play your 7 for 31-4, leaving you with a
fairly safe 9 to stop any further pegging:
8 9 7 (24-3) 7 (31-4)
I like my position at 108*. It takes 24 points for opponent to
get out from hole 97. The lead of the 8 with a
7 as starter card makes me nervous, I have to admit. If
opponent's hand goes up from the eight spot, they cannot score more
than 14 points with the 7 cut. If opponent's hand
goes down, they may not need pegs in order to score 24 and win the
game by first count. I would like to know early which direction the
hand goes. So I will play my 9. If opponent plays a
7 for a count of 24, I pair the 7 and
close the count with 31 for four points. In normal play
situations with this hand to include 9s and no
6, I would pair the 8. I just can't take the
chance of giving up six pegs in the final stages of this game. In
giving up six on the play of a single card, pone may win by first
count even with a 16 point hand by picking up two more pegs along
The normal play would be to minimize objective risk by pairing
the 8. This exposes me to only two losers, worth six
points each for an objective risk of 12, ignoring goes. Note that
after being tripled, I can close out the play series with my
7, though this leaves me with the inflexible 9-9
to face the second play series.
Playing the 7 instead is clearly too loose,
exposing me to a pair or two different shots at a three-card run.
Playing a 9 carries a much higher objective risk of
||2 ∙ 3 =
||2 ∙ 2 =
||4 ∙ 3 =
But you can probably discount the risk of pone's 10,
since aside from flushes, a 10 would give her a
maximum of 14 points in hand. I'm guessing it's about 50-50% between
the 8 and a 9. I'll leave it to the
bot to find the optimum play.
I play a 9. If opponent he has a 10,
he gets three to four holes. Against any other card, like a 7,
I can get back in the run with little damage.
Since a 24 point hand cannot be stopped, a 16–21
point hand must be guarded against. The key is: I would not make the
count 15 (with the 7), as the pone could pretty
easily peg eight points and count a more common 16 point hand. I
would probably play a 9, but could play the 8
also...for calculating all the possible regrets would take too long
But let's see: the number of regrets seem to be close either way.
Some of the pairing regrets include the pone holding 6-6-8-8
or 6-8-8-9. Some non-pairing regrets include
7-7-8-9 or 7-8-9-9. Looks like more "case"
cards are needed for the non-pairing regrets.
The humans may complain that this hand is best suited for
computer analysis, and I concur. My calculations which include a
probability-adjusted frequency of each of all possible hands,
reveals the following where the play could make a difference:
- 6-6-8-8 (loses to 8)
- 6-6-8-9 (loses to 7)
- 6-7-7-8 (loses to 9)
- 6-7-8-9 (loses to 7)
- 6-8-8-8 (loses to 7 or
- 6-8-8-9 (loses to 7 or
- 6-8-9-9 (loses to 7)
- 7-8-8-8 (loses to 8 or
My results show a slight difference in loss probabilities between
playing the 8 and the 9. (Playing the
7 is worse by about 4%.) I will play the 9,
which minimizes opponent's winning chances.
||Weighted Probability of Loss
If the suits of the cards were known, flush possibilities could
have been included but this would have been overkill on my part and
may add insult to injury to the humans.
here for a
guide to cribbage notation and symbols.
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
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 five-time 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 four-time All-American, 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 computer-informed 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 eight-time ACC tournament winner. For more information, see the
HALSCRIB home page.