Mastering the passing phase is an essential step on the journey to becoming a champion Wodka player. Last week we covered the banned cards that should never be passed to an opponent and this week we shall cover basic approaches for passing cards to your partner.
You must first evaluate which person on your team is going to have priority for going out. Broadly this will fall into one of six categories:
- Your partner has placed a Grand Wodka
- You have placed a grand Wodka
- Your hand is sufficiently good that you are certain you will place a Wodka no matter what you are passed
- Your hand is is good enough to consider placing a Wodka if you are passed something good
- Your hand is average
- Your hand is bad enough that it is unlikely you will go out at all
Your partner has placed a Grand Wodka
In this scenario you should almost always pass your partner your best card, perhaps unless it breaks a bomb.
You have placed a Grand Wodka
Here you should pass your partner whatever card will give you the best chance of going out. Successfully completing a Grand Wodka is worth sufficiently many points that it usually won’t matter if your partner is able to go out or not.
You are certainly going to place a Wodka
You can treat this scenario the same as if you’ve already placed a Grand Wodka.
You have a hand that you might place a Wodka with if passing goes well
In this scenario you should pass the best card under an ace you can pass without breaking your hand. This likely won’t be an ace but if you have pair queens and a singleton king you should pass away the king as if you do place a Wodka the queens are more likely to win a trick than the king.
Your hand is average
Here you should the best card you can afford to without making it impossible for you to go out. If you have an ace this will usually be a good card to pass but if that will leave you in an impossible position consider passing your next best card.
Your hand is so bad you won’t ever go out
In this instance you should pass the best card you have. Alternatively you can pass your partner the zero since you know you won’t be able to cash it in.
When considering which card is the best card in your hand this order will generally be:
- Red three
- Red seven
- Red double Jack*
- Red queen
- Non-red Jack*
- Remaining cards in descending order
*Passing a Jack should only be considered so highly when you have just the one jack card in your hand. In this scenario there are still three possible Jack cards of which your partner only needs two of in order to have a four of a kind Jack bomb.
You will need to adjust the above strategies if the opposing team are close enough to 15 points that both you and your partner absolutely must go out. For example if your team have 9 points and you have placed a Grand Wodka while your opponents are on 14 points, you should pass your partner the best card you think you can afford to without ruining your chance to go out first.
The red king
If you have placed a Grand Wodka or are likely to place a Wodka, you should consider passing the red king to your partner unless you have a play to play it where giving an opponent the Tsar wouldn’t cause you a problem, such as if you pay to play it as a pair king.
The red four
If you have placed a Grand Wodka or are going to place a Wodka, pass the red four to your partner if you think you are likely to have a singleton to play on it. If you do this, remember that you’ve done this while playing your cards so you don’t leave yourself in a position where your partner expends a high card to win a trick in order to lead the four and then you need to pass on it such as if you don’t want to break your pair kings.
In summary, which card you should pass your partner will depend on how you think the hand is going to play out. The goal is to maximize the amount of points your team can obtain so if you are only going to be able to get a single point yourself, attempt to strengthen your partners hand as much as possible to increase the chance of them being able to get more than one point via a Wodka.
Next week on passing we will look at some advanced scenarios.