Cribbage Flush: What’s a Flush [Plus, Other Scoring FAQs]

By Neal Taparia - 7/14/2023

Flushes are some of the most exciting card combinations because they tend to earn you major points in popular card games. While that’s just as true for a game of cribbage, there are some special rules for flushes in this classic game.

What makes a flush? A flush is when a player’s hand consists of only cards in the same suit. 

1. Flushes Only Count in the Show.

Flushes don’t count during pegging. Instead, each player scores flushes in his or her own hand during the show. 

2. A Flush in Your Hand Can Be Four Cards.

In order to score points for a flush in your hand, all four cards have to be the same suit. If you have three cards of the same suit, but the fourth card doesn’t match, it won’t count as a flush, even if the top card (or start card) matches. 

Basically, you can only add the start card to a flush if you already have a four-card flush.

3. Cribs Can Only Flush With Five Cards.

While you can count a four-card flush in your hand, the crib has slightly different rules. In order to make points, a flush in your crib must include the start card. That means only a five-card flush will count when you’re scoring your crib.

4. There Are No Extra Points for Straight or Royal Flushes.

If you’re used to playing other card games like poker, your instincts might tell you that a straight flush or a royal flush will get you more points. 

While this is technically true in a cribbage hand, it’s not because these combinations of cards are inherently worth more. Rather, you get points for the flush in addition to any points you’d earn for a run.

Combination Points How it works
4-card flush 4 (1 per card) Must consist of only cards in the hand. Does not apply to the crib.
5-card flush 5 (1 per card) All cards in the hand and the starter card.
Run of 3+ 3+ (1 per card) Can include cards in the hand or crib and the starter card.

The unique scoring combinations in cribbage allow you to stack points like this. However, while a straight flush could get you 8 or 10 points, it’s always worth checking twice for other point opportunities before discarding to commit to a flush.

For instance, if a player’s hand consists of 4-4-4-5-8-9, where 4, 5, 8, and 9 are all spades, it’s worth skipping the flush to keep the three-of-a-kind in your hand. 

What is the rule for a royal flush in cribbage? A royal flush doesn’t mean anything in cribbage. If your hand includes a 10, Jack, Queen, and King of hearts, you’ll get 4 points for a run of four, and 4 points for a four-card flush. You’d earn those same 8 points for any flush that’s a run of four, be it 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

More Cribbage Scoring FAQs

Is Queen King Ace a run in cribbage?

No. Ace is always a low card in cribbage. 

What happens if a run is interrupted in cribbage?

During pegging, you can score points for runs, and they don’t have to be in order. Once a run is interrupted, it stops scoring. Consider this scenario:

Player Card Played Count Outcome How to call it
Pone (first player) 4 4 "Four"
Dealer (second player) 6 10 "Ten"
Pone 5 15 2 points for 15, 3 points for a run of 3 "Fifteen-two, run for three"
Dealer 7 22 4 points for run of 4 "Twenty two, run for four"
Pone 2 24 Run interrupted, no points "Twenty four"
In the above scenario, the pone interrupted the run by playing a 2. This would normally mean the run is over. However, if there’s a 3 in the dealer’s hand, they could play it to complete the run and get 6 points. It all depends on the players’ cards and how closely you watch for patterns.

If a run is interrupted when someone plays the last card to make 31, you would also stop scoring it. For instance if there’s a run of 3,4,5 that puts the count at 31, and your next face up card is a 6, you would not count it as a run of four.

Learn more about how to score a game of cribbage.

How many cards do you need for a run in cribbage?

A run in cribbage requires three cards. The first two could be a fluke, that third card is what forms the pattern. After that, depending on the play of the cards, a run could keep going until someone has to say “Go.”

How do you win the game of cribbage?

To win the game of cribbage, you want to add up points on the cribbage board faster than your opponent. The first player to peg up to 121 points wins the game.

What is a crib in cribbage?

The crib in cribbage is an additional hand of cards made up of discards at the beginning of of each round. Players alternate as dealer, taking turns holding the crib and using it to score additional points. The crib is not used during pegging, or the play phase of the round.

What does Muggins mean in cribbage?

Muggins in cribbage is a way to steal points your opponent forgets to count. 

In any two-player game of cribbage, you’re going to play card combinations that score points in multiple ways. This can get distracting. Maybe you’re so focused on your double pair royal that you miss a fifteen. If this happens, the other player can call muggins and take the 2 points you forgot to peg up.

Or maybe when the dealer shuffles and draws a Jack as the top card, they fail to take “2 for his heels.” If you’re the non-dealer, you can swipe those points by calling muggins.

How does dealing work in cribbage?

Before the game begins, players cut cards. Whoever drew the lower card deals first. They deal each player six cards. After all players discard to the crib, the non-dealer cuts the deck and the dealer takes a single card. This is the start card.

Are the rules the same in all variations of cribbage?

No. Different variations of cribbage use different rules. For instance, in Five Card Cribbage, players are dealt five cards, but still discard two. Players only count to 31 once du