|What do you like to lead from 6-6-7-8,
assuming neither the cut nor your toss includes any mid-cards?
I prefer to lead a 4, but since I carelessly tossed my
4 into dealer's crib, I'll settle for the 8,
pairing dealer's 7 if he plays one. If he then triples my
7, I'll be highly annoyed, but only momentarily, as he'll
then play an A, and his last card will be a 6,
allowing me to triple him. If, when I lead my 8, he pairs
it, he probably has no 7, so I can play my 7,
shutting out his 9.
In this situation what you lead will depend on your position. Do you
need to peg or do you need to play defensively? If you need the points
lead the 8. If you need to play defensively, lead the
This is a no-brainer. Holding 6-6-7-8, lead the 8.
If the response is a 7, go ahead and take run of three. If
dealer pairs your 8, play your 7 and hope
for the best.
If the cut does not show a 6 or 9, no
6 or 9 was discarded to crib, and it is not
an end-of-game situation, lead the 8. In an end-of-game
situation lead the 7 to split the sequence. In any case
where the presence of another 6 or 9 is
known, lead a 6. If it is known that three 6s
or 9s (or any combination thereof) are in play, lead from
them. If not, the other 8 or 7 choice is
preferable as described.
The conventional wisdom has long favored leading the 8
from this hand. The idea is that if dealer takes a 15-2 with a 7,
you can pair it for two points without risking a run. Of course you could
then be tripled, which would be rather unpleasant. And what if dealer
pairs your 8 lead? Old-timers bank on the idea that if
dealer had a 7 he probably would have played it instead,
thereby allowing you to play a 6 next (making the count 22)
with little risk of giving up a three-card run. This is all supposed to be
better than leading a 6 and gambling that dealer doesn't
play a 9 for a 15-2 that would leave you with the
distasteful choice between making the count 21 with another 6
or hazarding a run with the 7 or 8.
I think the conventional wisdom is flawed on two counts. First, modern
players are increasingly willing to pair an 8 lead even if
they also have a 7. This is especially true if they
don't hold a 6 and thus won't be able to retaliate if
you play a 9 on their 7. It is also common
when dealer holds (or has seen) another 8. Second, many
authorities underestimate the likelihood of scoring an immediate triple by
leading from a pair. Dealer may have a weak hand and feel obliged to play
aggressively, or he may be holding something like 5-6-7-8
and have no real alternative to pairing your 6. If you lead
away from your pair you might miss a quick triple you otherwise would have
Both these points weigh in favor of leading a 6, but I
don't know how strongly they weigh, and there is little practical
experience with this lead in high-level competition. I suggest you
experiment with a 6 lead. You may come to prefer it over
the conventional 8.
I hate leading from this hand. If opponent has like cards, it's a
losing pegging situation. But I would lead the 8. That way
I can pair on dealer's 15-2.
Board position still means something here, especially on the follow-up
play. First I would say that you're more likely to get into pegging
trouble by having a 9 played on a 6 lead
versus having your 8 or 7 lead paired. Now
say the dealer is at 116*. I'd lead the 7 and plan on
pairing an 8 for a count of 23; that's all or nothing for
the dealer. Otherwise I'd lead the 8, and on a 7
response either pair (trying to be defensive) or play the 6
for a three card run (if I need the extra point and dealer's position is
not critical, say at 80-80*).
The humans are right about the 8 being safer than a
6, but if you're not specifically playing off, it's best
just to lead from the pair. This gets more offense than the alternatives,
since you'll occasionally triple dealer when he pairs your 6
(either because he needs the points or because he's holding something like
4-5-5-6 or 6-7-7-8 and has no safe
The exact numbers will depend on the toss and cut (as well as board
position), but the following averages are typical:
I agree with Rasmussen and Setian about leading the 7 in
situations where you need to prevent dealer from pegging a lot of
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
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
New Concept, He also directs three annual tournaments: the Ocean
State Cribbage Classic, New England Peer Championship and Charity Cribbage
DeLynn Colvert is the world's highest rated tournament player. He
is a four-time National Champion, author of
Winning Cribbage, editor of the monthly magazine Cribbage World,
and the ACC's only Life Master - Six Stars. He directs the Montana
Championship and Montana Open, both held annually in Missoula, and serves as
President of the ACC.
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.