Passing Cards Part 3: Additional Considerations

In the previous two posts we have examined some basic approaches for passing cards to opponents and your partner. In this post we shall look at some additional considerations that will really separate the mediocre Wodka players from the great players.

Bomb avoidance

A while back I was spectating a game and witnessed the player get dealt this opening hand:

Name blurred to avoid any potential embarrassment

The unnamed player ended up passing the black four and six to his opponents, and the blue nine to his partner.

At first glance this appears to be a reasonable approach. He has left himself an eight card straight plus a king and an ace.

However one potentially critical error was made in the choice of six to be passed. Passing the green six to an opponent instead of the black one would greatly reduce the likelihood of the opponent being able form a straight flush bomb. As the anonymous player his holding the green five and seven, the only way the opponent receiving the green six could get the straight flush would be with the wild seven followed by the green eight to ten. Whereas with the black six that the unidentified player chose to pass, the opponent could form a bomb multiple ways.

Left or right

Lets say you’re planning on passing a two and six to your opponents. In most cases you’ll want to pass the lower card to your right if you think you might be placing a Wodka, giving you a bigger chance of playing on it if that player leads it, and if you’re not planning on placing a Wokda you should pass the lower card to the left, giving your partner an increased chance of being led a low card should they place a Wodka.

Some scenarios where this isn’t true are if you’re giving an opponent a special card in which case this should almost always go to the right. Passing an opponent cards such as the red six or king can be good in certain scenarios, but it’s important that you know they are there and passing it to the opponent on the left could result in your partner being caught off guard. You may think you are helping your partner by passing the player to your left a king meaning the +1 effect applies to your partner, but this may also end up breaking a bomb or another important trick.

Potential versus existing strength

Consider the hand:

This hand presents an interesting conundrum. If you are passed a five you will have a nine card straight which would be a strong hand considering you have an ace and two kings.

You could choose to pass a two and a nine to your opponents, and a king to your partner. This would lead to once of two scenarios:

  • You’re passed a at least one five
    In this case you have your nine card straight and likely only one low singleton in whatever the other opponent passed you. Assuming your partner passed you something decent you can certainly consider placing a Wodka.
  • You’re not passed a five.
    In this case you’ve you’re left with your middling five card straight and four useless low cards. If you’re lucky you’ll get passed something like a three and a four in order to make consecutive pairs but this still leaves you with quite a poor hand. Placing a Wodka is likely out of the question and with the ace and a king you might be able to support your partner a bit but that would likely mean you won’t be going out at all.

Unfortunately in this case the second eventuality is much more likely. Since you don’t have any fives it’s more likely that other players have multiple fives and will choose not to pass one.

Other possible approached for cards to pass to the opponents are:

  • Pass the three and the four
  • Pass each opponent a two

The first option is perhaps the safest by getting rid of the two low singletons which aren’t part of the existing five card straight but does have the disadvantage of passing a three to an opponent.

The second option is a middle ground in terms of risk by reducing the number of low cards and still leaving the chance of an eight card straight if passed the five. However it is still likely to leave you in a poor position should you not get passed the five.

This is an example of a scenario where you will need to balance the risk vs the reward. For example if your team is on twelve points you might consider passing a two and nine since if you are passed a five you may be able to immediately get your team to 15 points. Conversely, if you’re on fourteen points it might be worth picking a safer option if all your need to do is go out.

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