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Subject: What's a good opening play? rss

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M Hellyer
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Another question from a new player.. What is a good opening play? Do you start simple with a single card? If you have a high 3-of-a-kind such as Queens, do you play that? Do you try to open low but with a higher match, such as if you have 2 sixes and 2 aces, you play the sixes, then win all the cards next time around with your pair of aces?
 
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Clyde W
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A good play is the one that allows you to win.

There's no way to answer this question. It's like asking a good opening bid in Bridge. The hand dictates all.

Keep playing and the game will get easier.
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Paul Beasi
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The biggest mistake I see beginning players make is playing all of their winners first and then being stuck unable to ever go out. Those 3 queens might earn you a lead later.

How you play is really dependent on what your hand is and how you want to play it. Sometimes you know you have a bad hand and will probably never go out. So then you get rid of as much as you can and hope for the best with the rest. But if you have a moderate hand, don't blow all of your power before it becomes truly useful.
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Sean McCarthy
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Here's a good mindless baseline:

Always play the lowest thing you can play, keeping combinations together when possible.

So definitely don't lead off with 3 queens (nor, equally, 1 queen). Usually you'd want to play your lowest single. Like Paul says, the goal is to get rid of your whole hand. Unlike some similar games, there's no reward for getting rid of only a subset of your cards.
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Here is a basic strategy guide.
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Clyde W
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I will offer a little insight: Aces are typically better (but not always) when used as singletons. If I have a pair of aces and those are my top two cards I will nearly always (but not always) pass one of the aces.
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Mark Tyler
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clydeiii wrote:
If I have a pair of aces and those are my top two cards I will nearly always (but not always) pass one of the aces.

I will nearly always keep a pair of aces. Whenever I have 2 of the top six cards (4 aces, phoenix, and dragon), chances are that my partner has fewer than 2 of the top six cards. Therefore, my partner is likely to be passing me her only ace (for example). Likewise, if I only have one of the top six cards, I will likely pass it to my partner using the assumption that she has a better starting hand than mine.
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Clyde W
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I nearly always pass my highest card (unless I'm calling Tichu). I hope my partner always does the same, so we can show each other our highest cards.
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Curt Carpenter
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m_r_tyler wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
If I have a pair of aces and those are my top two cards I will nearly always (but not always) pass one of the aces.

I will nearly always keep a pair of aces.

Same.

clydeiii wrote:
I nearly always pass my highest card (unless I'm calling Tichu). I hope my partner always does the same, so we can show each other our highest cards.

The value of knowing your partner's highest pre-pass card is often not as valuable as attempting to consolidate power. Or to show to your opponent that you do have a strong hand by passing a lower card. If you pass aces to each other, what did you learn or how did the pass help you? In the most general terms, I want to benefit from the pass.
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Clyde W
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If we both pass aces, then I know my partner doesn't have the Phoenix or the Dragon, and that is amazingly powerful information.
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Curt Carpenter
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clydeiii wrote:
If we both pass aces, then I know my partner doesn't have the Phoenix or the Dragon, and that is amazingly powerful information.

Not that powerful. You're going to call make fewer tichus with that information than you would with consolidated strength. And the flexibility to not always pass your highest card.
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Paul Beasi
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clydeiii wrote:
If we both pass aces, then I know my partner doesn't have the Phoenix or the Dragon, and that is amazingly powerful information.


Unfortunately that information is most commonly, "We're gonna get 1-2ed because neither of our hands is good enough, now."

When I first started playing Tichu my partner and I played that way and we got CREAMED most of the time playing against a team who almost never passed high cards to each other.

Now, I take my whole hand into consideration before passing away a high card (and whether or not my partner has called Grand, of course). On a moderate hand where I'm likely to go out second or even third if I keep the high card, I'm probably keeping it. If I have a hand that looks like 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 T, I'm probably keeping the Phoenix. If the high card is simply not going to help me, I'm probably passing it. If I have more the one high card, I will keep both 99% of the time, just playing the odds.
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Clyde W
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curtc wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
If we both pass aces, then I know my partner doesn't have the Phoenix or the Dragon, and that is amazingly powerful information.

Not that powerful. You're going to call make fewer tichus with that information than you would with consolidated strength. And the flexibility to not always pass your highest card.
I'm not sure I follow. If I have a average hand and I use my always pass highest card convention, getting one more bullet won't do much for me. I am very much likely not going to call Tichu even still.

But if I stick to my convention and get back a 3 from my partner, well I definitely made the right play, no? They're going to call Tichu. If we both have average hands, it's likely our opponents do too, and we're playing for points now, and the game becomes more nuanced and less about going out. Now we both know when we can shed our point cards and have the other pick up our points.

It's true, perhaps I'm playing too conservatively, but I've found it works in practice for me if both partners stick to it.
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Mark McEvoy
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They have Ph and Dr (probably in the same hand postpass), and they may be better-setted than you. Consolidating strength doesn't just set one hand up for the Tichu, it can also set one hand up top break what might otherwise be an opposing 1-2, or at least have a shot to stop an opposing Tichu call.


Average hands are the worst example anyway of where an "Always pass highest" convention fails. The bigger failures is when you're passing a high card out of a strong hand, when you could have used that pass to keep a winner and rid your hand of a mid-high singleton. That would often be the difference between a made and a missed (or not-even-called) Tichu.
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Clyde W
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If I have a strong hand, I'll probably call Tichu, in which case I passed whatever didn't fit.

I'm pretty liberal about my Tichu calls too (as my partners can sadly attest to) but if I ain't calling it, I'm sticking to my convention.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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You should not use the phrase "always pass highest card convention" when that's not what you mean. I see now you described your NOT-ALWAYS convention earlier. I merely replied to your most recent post, where I assumed the word ALWAYS meant ALWAYS (silly of me!).


Your 'response' still doesn't address the need to consolidate strength even if only to break up a Tichu or a 1-2. If you've got 2 of the big six but don't plan to call Tichu, and you and your partner swap big-sixers, you're really not nearly as well positioned to stop the pending opposing hands as you would have been had you held your biggies, gave your partner an expendable mid-to-high single, and now have three of the big six consolidated in opposition to your opponents' hands. And hey, if the passes favoured you, you might even find you have a legit Tichu hand now!
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Clyde W
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I'm sorry I play this game differently from you. That's why it's a great game, all sorts of play styles are legit. My convention is always pass highest unless I'm calling Tichu and I've found it works well. I'd have to see sample hands to discuss this any further.
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Edward
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clydeiii wrote:
I'm sorry I play this game differently from you. That's why it's a great game, all sorts of play styles are legit. My convention is always pass highest unless I'm calling Tichu and I've found it works well. I'd have to see sample hands to discuss this any further.


All play styles are "legit" in the sense that they are not prohibited by federal or state law, but not all play styles are "good" in the sense of winning you games of Tichu. These aren't "opinions", where there is no right or wrong "opinion"; these are facts, much like how it is fact that 1. a4 is a worse opening for White than 1. e4.

There's no need to hide behind "sample hands", where one can quibble endlessly about the merits of a particular hand. The truth is, if you always, or even often, break up a pair of A's to pass one to your partner, you are not playing optimally.
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Clyde W
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Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?

(Note I was only talking about passing and ace when I had two and they were my top cards.)
 
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Mark Tyler
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clydeiii wrote:
Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?

You have just illustrated how your passing convention doesn't hurt you on those statistically infrequent occasions when you and your partner both have two aces. (Actually, I would go so far as to say swapping crap cards has a better chance of working out favorably for one member of the partnership than does swapping aces. Occasionally a crap card can complete a multi-card combination.)

If you have two aces, the more likely scenario is that your partner has fewer aces than you do. Wouldn't your partnership be better served (most of the time) by passing in such a way as to consolidate your highest cards in your hand, even if your initial intention was not to call Tichu? At the very least, after receiving your partner's highest card while keeping your two aces, your hand will hopefully be good enough to go out second and prevent the other team from going out 1-2. At the very best, your hand is now strong enough to allow you to call Tichu when initially you didn't think that was possible.
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Mark McEvoy
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clydeiii wrote:
Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?


Because your crap card is the card that worked least-well with your hand. His crap card is the card that worked least-well in his hand. His crap card may make a pair, a straight, a triple, even a bomb in your hand, and vice versa. It's always a good risk to take, to swap a card you know is useless-to-you for a random mid-to-high card that may or may not be useless to you. Swapping aces will virtually never improve either hand.


In that one rare case that you and your partner each have two aces, yes, the pass-low (in this case 'low' being 'the highest spare card below ace') isn't fantastic. But it's still better than the pass-high.

My general rule of thumb is "If I have one big-sixer, pass it except in exceptional circumstances. If I have two or more big sixers, keep them except in exceptional circumstances." In that rare case when we have AA-AA, if one of us found our hand to be exceptionally weak that one passed an ace away and we consolidated. And if neither of us did, then we have a great shot at the 1-2 slam anyway.
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Clyde W
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m_r_tyler wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?

You have just illustrated how your passing convention doesn't hurt you on those statistically infrequent occasions when you and your partner both have two aces. (Actually, I would go so far as to say swapping crap cards has a better chance of working out favorably for one member of the partnership than does swapping aces. Occasionally a crap card can complete a multi-card combination.)

If you have two aces, the more likely scenario is that your partner has fewer aces than you do. Wouldn't your partnership be better served (most of the time) by passing in such a way as to consolidate your highest cards in your hand, even if your initial intention was not to call Tichu? At the very least, after receiving your partner's highest card while keeping your two aces, your hand will hopefully be good enough to go out second and prevent the other team from going out 1-2. At the very best, your hand is now strong enough to allow you to call Tichu when initially you didn't think that was possible.
But if my partner has also D or Ph, then passing her an ace is definitely helping our side. When I have two aces as my tops, I don't know what she has. And in any case now she knows I don't have D or Ph and so can't help her with Tichu.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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clydeiii wrote:
Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?

If you look at the aggregate strength of the two hands, passing aces is the theoretical absolute worst pass possible. Passing anything else (except dog) has the possibility of making the other hand better, and guaranteed to be no worse in their hand than it was in yours.
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Clyde W
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I will concede that your consolidate power convention might be better than pass high card convention, but you haven't explained how you determine which partner should consolidate power. What algorithm do you use to determine who gets the good card and passes the crap card?
 
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curtc wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Let's say I have AA as my top cards and partner has AA as his top cards.

I can pass an ace or a crap card. My partner has the same choice. In either case, we both end up with an ace and a crap card. How's your version of this exchange more optimal?

If you look at the aggregate strength of the two hands, passing aces is the theoretical absolute worst pass possible. Passing anything else (except dog) has the possibility of making the other hand better, and guaranteed to be no worse in their hand than it was in yours.
But without table talk you cannot know that you're both holding AA high. For all I know my partner is going to call Tichu, so passing him an ace is great under the consolidate power convention.
 
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