Sample Problems from Miracles on 4th Street

You need 16 holes, opponent needs only 3. You have first count. What do you toss in opponent's crib from:

1. 5-5-6-7-8-9
2. A-2-3-6-7-8
3. 8-8-10-10-Q-Q
4. You need 1 hole to win, opponent needs 2. You hold A-A-5-9, you tossed Q-K, and the cut is an 8. What do you play on her opening lead of a 3?
5. You need 11 holes to win, opponent needs only 2. You hold 8-9-10-J, and the cut is a 7. What do you play on his opening lead of a Deuce?


1. Toss the 5's. 12 different cuts will give you the full 16 points (any 6, 7, 8 or 9). With 5-5-6-7 there are 8 cuts that give you 16 points, while a 4 will give you 14 points, forcing you to peg two holes.

2. Toss the 2-3. You'll score 16 if you cut a 7 or an 8. Saving 2-6-7-8 gives you only 14 on the cut of an 8. This would be true earlier in the game too, but earlier, you would have tossed A-3 to avoid giving opponent 2-3.

3. Toss the Queens. If you save 10-10-Q-Q, you need to cut a Jack. But if you cut a Jack, opponent gets two holes. And she's guaranteed to peg at least one hole, so she goes out before you count your 16 hand. Save 8-8-10-10, and cut a 9.

4. Play an Ace. The Ace and 9 give her equal opportunity to peg on you. The difference is, if you play the Ace, she is more likely to play a card you can peg on. She can't put the count above 15.

5. Your only hope is that he doesn't have 2 points. If he can peg on your 8, he must have either an 8 or a 5. Either way, he has at least 2 points (it's impossible to hold a 5 and not have 2 points). So it can't cost you the game to play the 8. If he can peg on your 9, 10, or Jack, it's possible he has 0 points (2-4-10-J, for instance). If so, you can still win, but not if you play something he can pair. Play the 8.