Cribbage – A fun and dynamic card game

Monday, 20 May 2024

Cribbage is a fun and dynamic card game that’s great to play on vacation. And as their season is approaching, I think this game will catch you well if you are going to relax with family or friends this summer.


In this card game the objective is to form combinations of cards that after counting you will be the first to score 121 points. Some games are up to 61 points. Players earn points during the game and for making different combinations of cards.

Traditionally points are scored by moving “pegs” on a special cribbage board. Usually this card game is played in twos, but a popular variation is played in fours (in teams of two) or occasionally threes. In the United States, cribbage is played by over 10 million people, primarily in northern states from New England to the Pacific, and the game has remained popular in Canada as well. In the UK, between one and two million players compete in national leagues, to which a comparable number of casual players could be added.

Short history of the game

The inventor of this game is considered to be the English poet Sir John Suckling who lived in the 17th century. Cribbage evolved from an earlier game called noddy, which also used a special scoreboard, just like this game, but was more complicated to play. The only major change from the original rules is that in the United States and in the game played in British homes, each player is dealt six cards instead of the original five.

How to play Cribbage

6 cards are dealt face down to each of the two players, first to the opponent. The objective is to reach 121 points first. Each player looks at their six cards and places two of them face down to reduce their hand to four. The four cards placed together constitute the “crib”. Strange name, but that’s what it’s called. This crib belongs to the dealer, but these cards are not exposed or used until after the hands have been played.

After the “crib” is placed, the opponent cuts the pack. The dealer turns over the top card of the bottom deck and places it face up on top of the deck. This book is the “starter”. If the starter is a valet, the dealer scores 2 points at once. The starter is not used in this phase of Cribbage play, but is used later to make different card combinations that score points.

After the starter is turned, the non-dealer places one of his cards face up on the table. The dealer similarly exposes a card, then again his opponent, and so on – the hands are exposed card by card, alternately, except for a “Go”. Each player keeps his cards separate from those of his opponent.

As each person plays, they announce a cumulative total of points achieved by adding the last card to all previously played. (Example: Say the opponent starts with a four, saying “Four”. The dealer plays a nine, saying “Thirteen”, and so on) Kings, queens and jacks count 10 points each; Ace is worth 1 point.

The objective is to establish certain combinations of cards played consecutively. These combinations mark whether the cards are played in strict alternation or in succession by a player when the opponent cannot play. The score in each case is fixed by the player whose card completes the combination. Any player who can add to a combination, provided no cards have intervened, can enter the value of the new combination. Combinations are scored as follows: you make 15 (score 2 points); for cards of the same rank to make a pair (2 points), three of a kind (6 points) or four of a kind (12 points); and to play a third or subsequent card to form a sequence, regardless of suits and regardless of the order in which the cards are played (1 point for each card in the race).

Example! Let’s say we have the situation: the cards are played in this order: 8, 7, 7, 6. The dealer gets 2 points for the 15, and the opponent 2 points for the pair. Another example: The cards are played in this order: 9, 6, 8, 7. The dealer gets 2 points for fifteen when playing six and 4 for the run when playing seven (sequence 6, 7, 8, 9). The cards were not played in sequential order, but form a true round with no “foreign” cards.

How combinations are accounted for

Fifteen. Each combination of cards totaling 15. 2 points

Pair. Each pair of cards of the same rank. 2 points

Run. Each combination of three or more cards 1 point in the sequence (for each card in the sequence)

Color. Four cards of the same suit in hand. 4 points (excluding “cot” and “starter”)

Four cards in hand or cot of the same color 5 points as the starter.

(Does not count for four suits in cot not of same suit as starter)

His Nobs. Jack of the same suit as starter in hand or cradle. 1 point

How to count hands

When the game ends, the three hands are counted in order: the opponent’s hand – the non-dealer (first), the dealer’s hand (second) and then the “crib” (third). This order is important because towards the end of a game, the non-dealer can “count out” and win before the dealer has a chance to count, even if the dealer’s total would exceed the opponent’s. The starter is considered to be a part of each hand, so all counting hands comprise five cards.

Cribbage board

Cribbage board

Finally a few words about the Cribbage board. The Cribbage board has four rows of 30 holes each, divided into two pairs of rows by a central board. There are usually four (or two) additional holes near one end, called “game holes”. Four nails come with the board, usually in two contrasting colors. Note: Continuous track Cribbage boards are also available which, as the name suggests, have a continuous line of 121 holes for each player.

The board is placed to one side between the two players, and each player takes two pegs of the same color. (Pegs are placed in game holes until the game begins.) Each time a player scores, they advance along a row on their side of the board, counting one hole per point. Two keys are used and the back one jumps over the first key to show the first score increase. After another score increase, the back peg jumps over the front peg to the corresponding hole to show the player’s new score, and so on. The custom is to “go down” (away from the playing holes) on the outer rows and “come” on the inner rows. A game of 61 is a full round of the board, and a game of 121 is twice this round of the board.

Cribbage is an engaging and fun game that you can play anytime with your family or loved ones.


Author: Editor

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