|A while back we discussed what to lead from
6-6-7-8. What do you like to lead from
6-7-7-8, assuming neither the cut nor your toss
includes any mid-cards?
The 6 is a disaster waiting to happen. Actually,
everything is. I lead the 8 and pair dealer's
7 if he scores 15-2. If he pairs my 8 I have
problems, but I'll probably assume he doesn't have a 7,
and thus play my 6.
This is a tough hand because no matter what you do your opponent
will get points with the right cards. Let's look at your options. If
you lead the 6 and you opponent pair it, takes a 15-2
with a 9, you are left with two bad choices. Either
you have to throw the 8 in which case your opponent
could throw another 8 for 31-4 or play a 7
for 30-4, or else you could play a 7, giving up a
29-3 to a 7 or a 30-4 to an 8.
If you lead the 8 and your opponent pairs it, you
are stuck. You will have to play the 6 and hope he
has no 7. If you lead the 8 and your
opponent gets a 15, you either have to pair and set up a possible
29-6, or you could play the 6, get a three-card run
and set up your opponent for a four-card run or a 31. At least you
get a few points with this option.
If you lead a 7 and dealer fifteens it, you are
basically in the same situation as above. But if you lead the
7 and he pairs you, you can get a pairs royal for six
points. He may have the fourth 7 but it's not
likely. I like leading a 7 as the best option because
your opponent will not outscore you that much if indeed he does.
I most always lead the 8, except when my opponent is
in the position of pairing any lead. When he needs crash offense
deep on Fourth Street to win the game, I lead from the pair of
When leading middle cards to dealer, it makes sense to lead from
strength. That would suggest leading a 7. Another
strategy to employ when leading such cards is to count the cards
that could score on your lead. In that case the 7 and
8 are equal, with dealer's 7-7-8-8-8
that can score. If dealer has middle cards, you're not likely to
fare well no matter how you lay them down.
As with 6-6-7-8, the conventional wisdom has long
favored leading the 8 from 6-7-7-8,
whereas the bots have always favored leading from the pair. Human
masters point out that if dealer scores a 15-2 on your lead, things are
much less awkward if your lead was the 8, since you then
have a pretty safe pair to take. But as
I've pointed out before, modern players are increasingly likely to
pair an 8 lead holding 7-8 (since it gives
up far fewer retaliatory cards, and if pone does triple the 8,
the 7 covers for 31-2). And leading from your pair,
you'll occasionally score a quick bonanza by tripling dealer. (This can
happen more often than you might think — dealer could have a bust hand,
or be trapped holding something like 5-5-6-7).
Furthermore, bots like HALSCRIB dread having to deal with a 5
reply, which could lead to something like this:
8 5 6 6 (25-2) 6 (31-8) 7 4 7 (18-1)
8 5 7 6 (26-4) 4 (30-6) 7 K 7 (24-1)
I suspect HALSCRIB and the other bots are right about this hand, and
that the carbon-based ones have been wrong, so I recommend you
experiment with leading a 7.
Regardless of whether you lead a 7 or 8,
it's worth knowing what to do if dealer replies with a ten-card. Drop
the 6 next! This gives dealer a shot at both at 31-2 and
a pair, but if he started with A-A-4-x, A-2-3-x
or 2-2-3-x, you'll get to run the 7s on
the second play series. That's better odds than hoping to trap a
5 with your 6-7, a ploy that leaves you
vulnerable to the following catastrophe:
8 x 7 6 (31-2) 7 4 6 5 (22-5)
7 x 8 6 (31-2) 7 4 6 5 (22-5)
Lead the 8. Anytime you lead a 7,
you're giving your opponent a chance at 31-5:
7 8 (15-2) 6 (21-3) 9 (30-4) "Go" (1)
I would probably handle 6-7-7-8
the same as 6-6-7-8.
I might consider opponent's position and lead a 7 if
dealer is aggressive for pegs and more likely to pair (when they
don't have both 7-8). Otherwise I'd lead the 8
if opponent is in a defensive position and not likely to pair.
Either way, I would take my chances and pair the next card if 15 was
made (unless I'm desperate for pegs, in which case I'd then lead the
7 and just take the three-card run if 15 was made).
On any street other than Fourth I would lead a 7,
which is best for offense or defense. On Fourth Street I might lead
the 6 to minimize dealer's chance of winning on that
deal, say if the score were 95-95*.
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 is the world's highest rated tournament player. He is a four-time National Champion, author of
Play Winning Cribbage, and the ACC's only Life Master - Six Stars. He directs the Montana Championship and Montana Open, both held annually in Missoula, and
served for many years as President of the ACC and Editor of the monthly
magazine Cribbage World.
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.