If dealer opens. second seat needs to be at least somewhat careful taking actions such as doubling or overcalling. That's because third seat may theoretically having "everything" (not held by first and second seats), leaving partner with nothing.

But if left hand opponent opens, partner passes, opponent's partner passes, then right hand opponent is limited, meaning that fourth seat can double or overcall light. That is, s/he can "balance" with a king or so less than in second seat by "borrowing" it from partner, who clearly has something.

Likewise, I was taught that a fourth seat person could open a major suit with about a queen less than in the other seats, because both opponents (as well as partner) was limited. That is, while one needs something like (s)AQxxx (h)Qxx (d)xxx (c)Ax to open in the early seats, it would be ok to open with (s)AQxxx (h)xxx (d)xxx (c)Ax in fourth seat.

Do most experts feel that way? And how would they feel about opening a junky five card major in fourth seat with 11 high card points, something like (s)97532 (h)KQx (d)Qxx (c)Ax?

  • That's why Drury is played over both third-seat and fourth-seat openings. Just be sure you can either open 1S, or open 1S (sic). Few results are more disheartening than getting a bottom on a board you had the option to pass out. If you can't open 1S you most likely cannot defend 1S either. Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


It is critical when opening in Fourth Seat to make a plus on the hand - you have passed a simple opportunity to score zero, so should have a good reason to believe opponents cannot outbid you or set you. If holding less than full values you must have both length and strength in the Major suits. This is an excellent (light) fourth-seat opening of 1S (even playing 5-card majors)

H: QT6
D: A842
C: 52

and this is a very poor (light) fourth-seat opening of 1D:

S: 52
H: QT6
C: A842

It is also important to be playing some agreement such as Drury raises that allows partner to show limit-or-better support at the two-level, in case you are light.

Update - Further to @ruds' mention of Casino Count, in order to open in Fourth Seat one should have a reason to believe that one has the best hand at the table. Otherwise, someone else's hand is better than yours, and you are no longer favoured to get a plus from opening. Holding length in the Majors, and especially Spades, is often the slight edge one is looking for to achieve this belief.

  • Accepted for update.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:54

A very popular hand evaluation technique for fourth seat openers is "Cassino count." This adds high card points and the number of spades. Typically the Rule of 15 is used -- if your high card points plus your number of spades is 15 or higher, you may open in fourth seat.

This reflects Pieter's point above -- you want to go plus, so you don't want your opponents to outbid you in the partscore battle.

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