One of the best ways to learn can be from watching a master at work. With that in mind I thought it would be a useful feature to go through a hand I’ve recently played and explain my thought processes.
My first eight cards are promising with the three of a kind Jacks plus the red three but there is still too much risk to place a Grand Wodka.
The next 5 cards set my hand up really nicely. Consecutive pairs with the red three, a triple eight including the wish and of course the bomb of four Jacks. This does leave me with only three unmentioned cards, two of which are the highest cards in my hand.
At this stage I’m thinking that this is a possible Wodka but not yet guaranteed. The bomb is of course great but it’s only a single winner and winning with the other tricks aren’t assured.
I considered two possible approaches to passing:
- Pass the green and blue eights to my opponents and the red eight to my partner.
This would leave me with only one unaccounted low singleton and the red eight on my partner could be helpful.
- Pass the seven and queen to my opponents and the king to my partner.
This leaves me with only the tricks previously described but obviously passing a queen to an opponent is an unusual move. This approach also keeps the possibility of being passed the fourth eight to create a second bomb.
In this instance I decided to go with the second option. In most scenarios where you are considering placing a Wodka you would pass the lower of the two cards to the right. However in this case I decided the pass the queen to the right since if that player was going first, I’d rather them be less likely to have multiple sevens as after passing I may be able to unload a card on a single seven.
I was passed a four, five and an ace from my partner:
From this I think that my partner likely isn’t considering placing a Wodka and I have a pretty good shot. Neither the consecutive pairs or triple eights are guaranteed winners though so I do need to see how the hand plays out. Additionally I don’t want to get a low card with the red eight to ruin my day.
My partner goes first and leads with a five card straight:
This goes round and they follow up with a singleton eight on which the player to my right plays a nine.
At this point if I place a Wodka and beat it with my ace, I am reliant on several things going my way:
- Either my consecutive pairs or triple eights goes unbeaten
- Nobody else has a bomb
- I don’t get something bad with the red eight
The odds on this don’t look great so I pass. Everyone else also passes and the player to my right leads a singleton four.
This is the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for so I place a Wodka and play the five.
The player to my left plays a seven on which my partner plays a nine.
I choose to pass as while I’m in a better position than before I’m still reliant on two out of the three things above going my way.
The player to my left plays the red ace which I’m not too concerned about as it’s likely they’ll immediately be able to combo out having just been given a new card into their hand.
They then lead a pair three onto which my partner plays a pair six with the red six.
I could choose to play either my pair twos or threes but as I can play them both at once later and it looks like my partner will likely win this trick I choose to pass.
My partner leads a pair seven including the red seven which leaves him on just three cards. At this point he likely can’t offer me any more support but I do know as he’s no longer holding the red seven he is a potential wish target if I want to attempt to not get a card.
The player to my right plays a pair ten on which I pass. This is starting to get a little worrying as they have nine cards left but I figure with a bomb it’s probably safe to let it through.
He follows up with a pair six which I also pass on.
Playing a pair eight wouldn’t have been productive as it wouldn’t lower the number of tricks required to for me to go out and could have been beaten. At this point from my counting of cards I knew there were still two aces, three kings and four queens out there, not counting the blue king my partner was still holding.
The player to my right leads a five which I choose the play my ace on.
Given the suspicious lack of queens played so far I am worried about a four of a kind bomb of queens but since the person I passed a queen to has only six cards left I know I can’t wait any longer. Thankfully my ace isn’t bombed and I can lead the triple eight.
Now from counting blue cards I know the only two which aren’t either in my hand or my partners hand are the Jack and the queen so I wish a blue card from the player to my right. This is because if he has a bomb of queens he will either be forced to break it, or will give me my fifth Jack with which I can beat his bomb. At this point this is the only possible bomb my opponents could have so I know with this wish I have fulfilled two out the three criteria that needed to be done in order for me to go out first.
He passes me a queen which means I now know I can go out without worry.
Everyone passes on the eights so I simply follow up with the consecutive fours passing away the four.
This is beaten by consecutive nines and tens by the player to my left who picks up the red three.
At this point I know there can’t be any other bombs out there so I can safely play mine and go out with the queen.
This has been a look at some of the thought processes that go into passing and choosing when to, and when not to play, along with saving the eight until a moment where I knew it could only benefit me.