November 17, 2023

*** This hand was suggested by Hawthorn
19-4*  ?
Total votes: 265
4026 votes

Joined: October 2008

Friday 4:11 AM
We are Pone at Hole 19, with a nice lead of Fifteen Points to our credit, and we are dealt a "Mixed Bag" assortment of everything from "Soup" to "Nuts"! Yippee!

The "Soup-of-the-Day" consists of a splendid broth made from a 3-4-5 Run, alongside an adjacent Ten "T" Card stock, and this Keep (3 4 5 T) Hand would allow us to begin with Five Points, and make a relatively safe Toss (A Q) discard.

A quick inspection of this Run Idea therefore shows us that Twenty Cuts (2222, 333, 444, 555, 6666, TTT) would give us Eight Points or more, and we would get NO HELP whatsoever from just Four Cuts (9999). This Run Idea is therefore a fairly solid contender, and it should peg reasonably well. "What's not to like?" you're probably thinking.

The "Nutty" choice however is a genuine Spade-FLUSH, and this would mean we could begin with Keep (As 4s Ts Qs) and yes, you guessed it: Eight Points, yet it entails having to Toss (3 5) into the Enemy Crib. The Plot Doth Thicken.

This FLUSH idea shall yield us a Dozen Points or more after Twenty-Three Cuts (AAA, 444, 555, TTT, JJJJ, QQQ, KKKK), which is HALF of the remaining deck! (Would I lie?!) It does appear that, for whatever amount we surrender in the Crib by 'losing' our 5 Card, this can be 'made up' by the added points from the FLUSH, yet we may peg a bit less.

While we would get NO HELP whatsoever from Eighteen Cuts (222, 333, 666, 777, 888, 999), and we'd get just One Point of help from any of those card ranks if they were a Spade Suit, which adds another Six Cards (2s, 3s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s), and altogether therefore: This One Point or LESS group thus totals Twenty-Four Cards, or more than HALF the remaining deck.

In this FLUSH case nevertheless, we would be starting off with at least Eight Points, or 60% more than the Hand with the Run. It's actually a close call, and usually it pays to be hesitant with such a Dangerous Discard, especially when the risk seems unnecessary and/or unwarranted.

Toss (A Q) has a Crib Value 'over the board' of just over Four Points, while Toss (3 5) 'chimes in' at close to Seven Points, yet this difference of less than Three Points does seem to permit us to begin with precisely those additional Three Points. How and why (and when) players make such a decision reveals a bit about their chosen "style" of play.

When we are leading by half-a-street, speeding up a game could serve to help us as much as or more than it helps our Opponent, but it could simply bite us, too. We should especially note how greater than HALF the deck of possible Cut Cards will boost the FLUSH to become a Dozen Points or more, and that the FLUSH, even without any help, gives us 60% more to begin with than the Run. But similarly, about HALF of the time, the FLUSH will also "fall flat" and get NO HELP or get just ONE POINT. (Do I sound like I'm on the fence?)

At this very early stage of the game, and with a lead that is already significant, retaining the FLUSH involves some risk, because a lot of those "Loser" Cuts might ignite a Monster Crib for our Opponent, but since we are already leading by half a street, positionally I believe that it's a good gamble, especially if SKUNKS have a big payoff. At most Relative Scores, I think the Run is the more prudent approach, but at (19-4*), it very well might pay to FLUSH! I'm willing to find out.

Let's Toss (3 5) today, but let's also be aware of the possible risk we are taking. (Risk Noted.)

After the 6 of Diamonds Cut Card, we 'fizzled' somewhat, but we still have those Eight Points, and so: no regrets, let's lead the 4 Card. If we now lose this game, I'll just say it's all your fault, and then we'll go out for 🍦 ice cream.
5589 votes

Joined: March 2008

Friday 4:23 AM
I went wide. No ice cream headache for me.
1307 votes

Joined: February 2009

Friday 4:37 AM
This flush is just too powerful to break up-the 3-5 discard is somewhat mitigated by the fact a 4 cut will give us a 14 point hand
818 votes

Joined: January 2019

Friday 4:51 AM
I’m keeping the flush because the discard tables suggest I’ll lose fewer points by discarding 3 5 than I’ll gain. I might not be as brave as to put a 5 in my opponent’s crib if I wasn’t 15 points ahead though
Andy (muesli64)
2182 votes

Joined: August 2009

Friday 5:02 AM
I don't have a problem throwing Q-A. Why would I donate a 5?
Eolus619 says: Hi Andy..always good to see you post again !
985 votes

Joined: April 2021

Friday 5:05 AM
After presumably the first deal of the game, we are out to a huge lead, so I think the mantra should be upwards and onwards. (3 5) is a fine trade here for a starting 8-pt flush. I would only be upset if another trey were cut to match. The 6 isn't great, but at least we maintain our starting 8 pts, the same as I would have had I thrown the much safer (A Q). Let's lead the 4 and try to be as stingy as possible with the pegs. Just for the record, it seems with these type of hands that whether I choose to lead an A or a 4, the dealer often ends up pairing if they can.
MiketheExpert says: Obviously this type of gamble is very sensitive to the board position, and I wouldn't always risk a dangerous throw in the crib -> why not go for the throat when you're already in such an advantageous position? If it works out well and we increase our lead even more, we may even start to have designs on a "skunk" after just the opening few deals....If it doesn't work out too well, like today, we should still have a good advantage to work with....
1163 votes

Joined: December 2017

Friday 5:40 AM
For me, this is straightforward. Usually when I think a puzzle is straightforward, it turns out not to be so simple as I thought. The position is “balanced” at +13/-12, so I’m willing to take risks to make my surplus stronger, especially with oppo so far back. 35 is dangerous, and the 5 is *not* “just another card”, but dealer is in the weeds. The flush seems so much better than 345X, that it is probably worth it, especially given it’s early days. A very wise man once said here, “chickenshits never win”.

345X has plenty of cuts for 7 points, a mediocre hand. We may have terrible hands to come, too. It’s not worthwhile to talk about the number of cuts for improvement – it matters an awful lot, I think you’ll find, how *much* the hand improves, and what it starts with… Furthermore, having made such a risky toss, I’d want to play defense in the pegging, and the flush is better there too. I can’t say it’s a no-brainer, because the flush isn’t a super-wonderful hand itself, or that I can know with certainty that this is right, but it’s what I’d do. We can play defense next hand, if necessary, and with more success hopefully than if we had made the more cautious toss here.

Checking Liam, this averages 10.4 in hand, and the 35 averages 6.6 in oppo’s crib. The alternative, toss AQ, averages only 8 – that’s *2.4* lower in means – in hand, and 4.1 in the crib. Admittedly, it’s 2.5 *worse* in the crib. But the crib is only like 20-30% of dealer’s scoring, so putting the crib on a par with pone’s hand is kind of silly. To my mind, that looks like a good exchange at this score.

Alright time for another annotation. This time my opponent was one “Bozo Mae”, and he was a cunning adversary. As we will see, he definitely played board position, and made some great moves in discarding and pegging.

I won the cut, so we start at 0*-0.

I was dealt AA269T. Not very strong cards… I tossed 69 to leave the pair of aces for pegging, a points-containing crib toss, and opening for a big cut with the trey. However, checking Liam after the fact, toss 2T to hold AA69 averages nearly as well (only a tenth short), and with its AA9 eleven, surely would have been better. I’m no expert.

Bozo got dealt 378JQK and made a very interesting goldilocks. You might think 38 was a no-brainer. That’s what I would normally have done. But the resulting hand is pretty weak and wouldn’t have gotten him into position or anywhere near even with a good cut. 8K would have been probably overly defensive. So Bozo tossed me 3K, which is a balk, over .5 safer than 38 due to dealer’s tendency to toss mids - .5 is a big swing in crib tosses. And the hand it left, 78JQ, still certainly had room to grow.

On DCH, there’s a lot of talk about key connectors, but I think some have overlearned this lesson. While when you’re comparing, say, 33 to 22, the effect is dramatic, when it comes down to something like AK vs 3K it’s only a couple of tenths of a point. So I wouldn’t have done it that way, but his play is defensible. If you think I’m just “making excuses” for something weird – read on, Bozo knew what he was doing.

The cut was a Jack, so I got heels.

Holding AA2T, with 69 in the crib, and an unhelpful cut, I’m playing maximum offense. I know I won’t magically score 16+ the next ~8 or 9 hands, and my surplus is in serious danger. Consider – the odds of flipping a coin heads are 50/50. But what are the odds that, if you flipped a coin 10 times, it would come up heads half the time? Not 50/50. That’s the kind of dynamic that is at work in 26 theory.

Bozo leads the Jack from 78JQ for fewest losers, also to get a cheap run if he catches me holding XXXX. Given dealer’s (relatively slight) bias to hold a five, and the likelihood of a J or Q response, I would have lead the eight. But I think there are arguments on both sides, and like most close calls in the pegging it’s maybe insoluble.

So the pegging went: J-T(20)-Q(30-3)-A(31-2)//8-A(9)-7(16)-2(18-1)

I enticed a run to his Jack, he took it – why? Because if he played the 7 or 8 there’s more room for me to do even more damage than the 31; there’s no guarantee that I even have an ace, maybe he caught me with XXXX; it’s early game, 3 points for 2 ain’t bad; his cards are so weak that his surplus in the back can’t be taken for granted necessarily. The rest of the play was straightforward.

His 3K balk worked, I only had a two point crib and a two point hand. He had a mere four points in hand. So we are limping down first street, the score next hand is…

2.) 9-7*

At +3/-9, I’m on full offense again. I seriously underscored on the first hand, and luckily oppo didn’t do too well either.

He dealt me A225QK. I considered 5K… but decided that was too bonkers this early, so I tossed AK. Bozo’s surplus in the back is 18 points, but there’s a lot of board to go, so I may come to be glad I threw a balk. The resulting hand, 225Q, is still pretty good.

Bozo had a “forcing discard”. Holding 6889QQ, he basically had to toss QQ even to hold the not-super-safe 6889. Anything else would imperil his standing in the back too much to be worth it.

The cut was a T. At least it helps some, continue on full offense.

Pegging went Q-9(19)-5(24)-6(30-1)//2-8(10)-2(12)-8(20-1)

I led the Q hoping to either pair a five response, or parley my deuces… maybe both, not to be too greedy. Maybe even trap Bozo’s lone deuce. But none of this worked.

Bozo played the 9 to drive up the count. He wasn’t worried about holding 688 for the remainder after a face lead on my part. I played the five next – maybe Bozo holds 339?, I smoke out the 3, and get a 31-4. But no, that’s not what happened. The rest of the play was straightforward.
horus93 says: So the cut helped Bozo a lot since it gave him a double run (6889T). He had only a two point crib with my balk - QQ disappoints him as usual. I had a lame 6 point hand and he held me scoreless in the pegging. So next hand it's going to be 15*-21.
182 votes

Joined: February 2022

Friday 5:46 AM
Today I played out the hand on CribPro, recorded it, and posted it on YouTube. Here's the link for those interested I would be remiss if I didn't give HORUS credit for the inspiration to make this video. Regarding the cribbage part of it, the hand was a disaster for me: started out with a 15 point lead and ended up with one point to the good!
james500 says: Hi. Thanks for posting the video, and to Horus for the inspiration.
horus93 says: Cool man I'll check it out after work! Glad to see someone else experimenting with the same thing. It's easy, fun, and useful, so I hope more try their hand at it
3786 votes

Joined: June 2013

Friday 6:15 AM
Interesting dilemma. I'll try the flush.
2883 votes

Joined: November 2014

Friday 6:54 AM
As others... pondered tossing A-Q vs 3-5. When in doubt, it pays to flush!
1343 votes

Joined: July 2016

Friday 7:26 AM
Check the board people. We are +11. Dealer is -14. This calls for *cautious* offense. Note the emphasis on the word
cautious. In fact I can't think of *any* flush combo that entails tossing a 5 here making sense. Keep the 5 sure points. Worst case scenario, barring a 24 hand for Dealer, and we'll be dealing 3 holes beyond our 1st Street CPZ and in good shape. Like horus 93 says; "Opponent is in the weeds." Let's keep it that way. The cut gives me 8 with little chance it helped opponent's Crib. Lead the 4 to break up the run. I have to go, but hope to get a chance later to see how hecklebush got in to so much trouble holding it this way. A lot of top tier players disagree with my keep. I many just learn a thing or to today. Heck, I do that almost *every* day.
Eolus619 says: Hello flush...just saying that for Scott!! A-3-3-4...8 = ?
hecklebush says: A word of caution if you try CribPro yourself- altho CribPro will deal you the same hand and cut, the deal to the opponent it apparently varies the deal to the opponent and so the same result may not occur.
Inushtuk1 says: Duly noted hecklebush. And Bruce; I'm taking my back peg, and leapfrogging over the front one 8 holes. Thanks for the counting test. Once again the Ace enables another 4 Card (15-2).
Eolus619 says: đź‘Ťđź‘Źđź‘Ź
1206 votes

Joined: June 2020

Friday 7:34 AM
I certainly have to ponder the flush after reading the comments of those who picked it…however…my thinking’s the 2nd hand of the game..and I have a clear advantage… with the exception of the Ace..the other cuts that take the flush to 12 also add immediate points to the 3-5 crib…I will follow Colvert’s advice and play defense as GFD..or to put a twist on Al Miller’s quote..with a monster advantage I tossed the 3-5 and ended up playing offense into a close loss.
120 votes

Joined: February 2016

Friday 7:47 AM
Opponent is so far behind I will risk the 3 - 5 toss Great puzzle.
superdow says: plus i am holding one of the 4's. Perhaps that will reduce potential value of 3 - 5 toss.
374 votes

Joined: December 2020

Friday 7:56 AM
I flushed today with an ironic smile. Several of my hard fast cribbage rules (before haunting this site) was like a Taylor Swift song ….never ever tossing a 5 to the enemy and never ever break up a double runs. This morning’s puzzle has cornered me into breaking a legacy rule.
734 votes

Joined: May 2019

Friday 11:04 AM
Can't get to my second street target.So I won't give them a shot at a 20 crib.
Eolus619 says: 31....great to see you post!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6212 votes

Joined: April 2008

Friday 11:40 AM
Lets give them 3-5! Not. Defense.
5483 votes

Joined: October 2007

Friday 4:19 PM
I'll look at 3-4-5-10 (A-Q), A-4-5-10 (3-Q) and A-4-10-Q (3-5):

3-4-5-10: 5pts - 4½pts (Schell: 4.33) = +½pt

A-4-5-10: 4pts - 4½pts (Schell: 4.59) = -½pt

A-4-10-Q: 8pts - 6Âľpts (Schell: 6.78) = +1ÂĽpts


3-4-5-10: Improves with AAA, 2222, 333, 444, 555, 6666, 7777, 8888 + 14xXs = 42 cuts = 42/46 = 91.3% up to 8/9/10/12pts with 2222, 333, 444, 555, 6666, 101010 = 20 cuts.

A-4-5-10: Improves with AAA, 333, 444, 555, 6666, 9999 + 14xXs = 34 cuts = 34/46 = 73.9% up to 7/8/9/10pts with AAA, 333, 444, 555, 6666 + 14xXs = 30 cuts.

A-4-10-Q: Improves with AAA, 444, 555 + 14xXs = 23 cuts = 23/46 = 50.0% up to 8/9/10pts with AAA, 444, 555, 101010, JJJJ, QQQ = 19 cuts. Plus 9 spade cuts for 1pt extra for the flush = 9/46 = 0.20pt.


We have a good lead which we could protect but I think we have enough of a lead to play Offense.


Playing Offense I think A-4-5-10 will peg best with 2 low cards, a 5 and a high card.


A-4-10-Q is best for starting value by Âľpt over 3-4-5-10 which also has the most cuts for improvement and 20 cuts for 8-12pts compared to 19 cuts for 8-10pts with A-4-10-Q which also has an extra 0.20pt potential for a spade cut. Even so I think 3-4-5-10 will have the advantage so I'll throw the A-Q.
5194 votes

Joined: February 2008

Friday 4:20 PM
At 19-4* playing a Defense strategy for the pegging the dynamic expected averages and Win/Loss %s are:

Defense___Hand_Pegs____Crib____Total____W8 %____W9 %
3-4-5-Q____7.98+(-2.52)+(-4.18)= 1.28___51.6____72.4
3-4-5-10___7.98+(-2.70)+(-4.08)= 1.20___51.9____72.8
A-4-10-Q__10.37+(-2.87)+(-6.42)= 0.98___56.5____74.3

Defense______L8 %____L9 %

3-4-5-Q is best for expected averages by 0.08pt. over 3-4-5-10. A-4-10-Q is best for Win %s but is highest for Loss %s. As 3-4-5-10 is very slightly better than 3-4-5-Q for Win %s and lower for Loss %s I'll select the A-Q to discard.

After the 6 cut I'll lead the 10 and play Optimally (cautious offense):

Lead_____________Net Pegging Points
JQT says: The few hundredths difference in points in the evaluation for (A Q) and (3 5), and also vs win and loss percentages, reveal why I mentioned the possibility for a SKUNK being so important, which the program is not trying to accomplish with the BIAS that would normally be applied. Winning by SKUNKS and large Spread Points is hugely important in some tournament and stakes games; others it is not. But even if we discount this, apparently if we had this arrangement FIFTY TIMES, then the FLUSH choice may 'cost' us an Extra Point in those attempts to increase the odds of a SKUNK.
327 votes

Joined: January 2023

Friday 4:56 PM
Many thanks for all your comments
Ras2829 says: Hi Hawthorn: Fine puzzle and it is seldom that a five-point hand will have greater potential value than an 8-point flush. Keep 'em coming!
Ras2829 says: Hi Hawthorn: Fine puzzle and it is seldom that a five-point hand will have greater potential value than an 8-point flush. Keep 'em coming!
5016 votes

Joined: November 2008

Friday 6:46 PM
It matters not whether playing offense or defense strategies, the 3-4-5-10 takes the lead. The 3-5 discard gives up too much in the crib and 3-4-5-10 gives up slightly fewer pegs on average. Note that Coeurdelion is choosing offense and HalscribCLX is choosing defense; yet the cards retained are the same. That's how this works. My choice with a 15-point lead and dealer at hole 4 was offense. Take all reasonably safe pegs. Don't want to pair if enough count left for dealer to score a triple.
Inushtuk1 says: Hi Ras. If you don't want to pair if enough count left for a triple, what will you lead?
Ras2829 says: Hi Inushtuk1: Don't agree with HalscribCLX on leading the ten-spot, even though that does draw an Ace in response quite often. The 10 is my escape card. So, although seems ultra defensive for sure, will break the lower sequence with a four lead and give up one-hundredth of a point.