One of the, if not the most important special card is the red zero.
This is the only card in the game which has the ability to grant an extra point and therefore should never be forgotten.
There are a few possible usages for the zero which I will look at today.
The only card the zero can be played on top of is the red six. This means most of the time when you are intending to go out with the zero, you will want to save a strong trick as the penultimate thing that you play. Of course bombs are ideal, followed by aces and then by difficult to beat tricks such as long straights or strings of consecutive pairs. This will give you the best chance of being able to win the trick allowing you to lead with the zero and scoring that extra point.
It’s almost never a good idea to pass the zero to an opponent during the passing phase. The one scenario where I would encourage this is if your opponent has placed a Grand Wodka and they are already within five points of winning. In this instance the extra point won’t help them but having the zero will make it harder for them to go out.
A mini Wodka
If you are dealt the zero in your opening thirteen cards, and your hand doesn’t look like it will be sufficiently good to place a Wodka, but you think you might be able to go out with the zero you can choose to treat it somewhat like a Wodka in terms of your passing strategy. In other words, consider keeping back an ace that you might otherwise pass to your partner if you think it will enable you to go out with the zero.
The ultimate stopper
The zero is unique in that it can almost never be played in combination with another card. If you know someone is holding the zero and you have a bomb, you can with a high amount of certainty screw them over by waiting until they have just that card left and playing your bomb.
This isn’t an unbeatable strategy as there are still a few ways they might be able to play the zero or otherwise go out. Someone may wish it from them with the eight, play the six or pass them a higher card with the three.
Patience can be key
If you’re in the scenario where your hand consists of a couple winners and the zero, consider waiting until there aren’t any possible bombs left before trying to go out with the zero.
For example, if you have a pair of aces and the zero, but you’ve been counting Jacks and haven’t seen any, it may be worth waiting until you’ve seen two jacks before playing your aces. Otherwise you fall into the trap mentioned above and be bombed out to be left with only the zero.
Of course you can’t wait too long and risk letting your opponents go out, but if you still fear a bomb consider winning a singleton trick with one ace, leading the zero and going out with the final ace. Not getting the extra point from the zero isn’t ideal, but at least it leaves you less vulnerable to getting bombed.
Stealing the extra point
Sometimes you may suspect an opponent who is close to going out is holding the zero and you may not be able to stop them. In this instance if you have the eight you can use it to attempt to steal the zero from them. If this means you can go out with it after they do then great, but even if not at least you can prevent them from getting the extra point.
In summary, although a relatively simple card, the zero in incredibly important to remember and there are a number important considerations to to keep in mind to play properly around the zero.