The Build-A-Bomb Trap

The topic today focuses on a scenario I have encountered a few times where it can be easy to mistakenly overvalue a hand due it having a bomb you can build using the red queen.

Consider the hand:

At first glance this looks like a fairly solid hand. You have the red seven so you get to lead, along with an ace and two triples, one of which has a good chance of winning. To top it off you can build a four of a kind bomb by using the queen to turn the five into a four.

From that narrative it sounds like this should be a very doable Wodka. You have only two low singletons one of which you can lead with right away thanks to the seven. With all the winners in your hand plus the bomb you might expect to go out first.

The problem with this scenario is that we can’t count on a bomb created by the red queen before it has been made unless we have a guaranteed route to be able to create it.

In this scenario there isn’t a guaranteed route to create the bomb. Suppose we lead with the green six. If we plan on taking that trick with the ace that will mean if we play the triple queen the seven will be lowered by one instead of the five that we need to create the bomb. If we lead the seven after winning the trick with the ace that will free up the five to be selected by the red queen but there is no guarantee we will ever get the opportunity to play the three queens.

An alternative play would be to lead the six and then not take the trick with the ace. If you are able to offload your seven onto a singleton led by someone else and then win with the ace you can immediately play the triple queen or create the bomb. This is probably more likely to be successful but if you have placed a Wodka by this point there is no guarantee your opponents will ever let you play on a singleton seven, especially considering you have many of the lower cards in your hand.

Comparing this hand to a hypothetical starting hand where the only difference is that the queen has already been used to change the five into a four:

You can see that this is a much stronger hand and even has some bomb resilience.

With this hand you could lead the triple two into triple queen, followed by the six, leaving us with with just an ace, seven and the bomb. While not unbeatable this is a much stronger narrative compared to the first and where the only difference was that we had to create the bomb using the queen.

Summary

In summary, when evaluating the strength of a hand where you can create a bomb using the red queen, take care to ensure that you can guarantee being able to create the bomb before placing a risky Wodka.

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