History of Cribbage

By Neal - 3/7/2023

In the 17th century, an English archeologist and folklorist, John Aubrey, credited the creation of cribbage to one John Suckling. Suckling was a poet and soldier. He was also regarded as a very skillful card player and gambler across Europe at the time. It was his love for gambling that led him to invent cribbage.

Before cribbage, there was an earlier game called Noddy, which many believe to be the inspiration behind Suckling's game. The main difference is that Suckling added the concept of the crib or discard pile, which led to the name "cribbage."

Because of its challenging and exciting nature, cribbage became popular around England, with some players even playing for money. It became so popular that author Charles Dickens featured it in his novel The Old Curiosity Shop.

Eventually, the game spread to other countries when the British Empire expanded. Players throughout the United States enjoyed the game as early as the Colonial Era, and remained popular during the Second World War and beyond.

Moreover, the game became a particular favorite of sailors. Some created their boards out of carved whalebone and animal teeth or tusks.

In April of 1943, Lt. Richard "Dick" O'Kane played a game of cribbage with Lt. Cmdr. Dudley Morton aboard the USS Wahoo. During this game, Morton dealt a perfect hand of 29 to O'Kane. The odds of this happening was 1 in 216,580, the rareness of which the Wahoo crew saw as a good omen. The next day, the fast-attack submarine destroyed two Japanese freighters.

In 2019, O'Kane passed down the legendary O'Kane cribbage board to USS Chicago (SSN 721), the oldest fast-attack submarine in the Pacific fleet.

Today, playing it in naval ships and submarines has become a tradition among modern sailors and even American submariners. It's also played in wardrooms by high-ranking officers.

Now that you know the history, try playing Cribbage now.