How to play Cribbage

By Neal - 3/8/2023

Cribbage is a card game involving a standard 52-card deck, a special wooden board, and little pegs representing each player's progress. Generally, the number of players allowed to play the game is between two and four.

Players consist of the dealer and non-dealers, known as "pone," an abbreviation of the opponent.

The wooden board, or "Cribbage Board," is a small, rectangular, often foldable board. It's placed between the cribbage players during the game and acts as their scoring board. Generally, it has 121 holes in which players can insert their pegs every time they earn a point.

Each player uses two pegs of the same color. The rearmost peg always jumps over the one in front to show the first score increment or addition. Every time there's another score increase, the peg behind jumps over the peg in front, and so on.

The objective of the game is for any player to be the first to get 121 points.

Playing the Game

The standard two-player version of cribbage has each player with six cards at hand. The players must then choose two cards to discard into the crib; the crib belongs to the dealer but is only used once the hand has finished. Finally, the dealer cuts the deck and turns over the top card or the "starter" card.

The game is played with players discarding cards face-up in the middle of the table. Every time players put a card face down, they must announce its value and declare the new total of the discarded cards until it reaches 31.

Players who can't play without exceeding 31 must announce "go." That means they skip a turn. Each numbered playing card represents its own value, while face cards (jacks, queens, and kings) are valued at ten. On the other hand, aces count for one.

The count goes back to zero if both players can't play a card without going over 31. When this happens, another series begins, and the game continues until everyone plays all remaining cards.

There are many ways players can score points when playing cribbage. The most common is when a player receives 1 point if the other can't play a card without exceeding 31. Another way to earn 1 point is if the player plays the last card in hand.

Moreover, players can earn 2 points if they play a card that creates a total of either 15 or 31. Creating a sequence of three or more succeeding cards provides players points equal to the number in that series. For instance, if a four and five have been played, a player could score three points by playing a six or a three.

Furthermore, players get 2 points for creating a pair of cards (for instance, by laying a jack on top of a jack played by their opponent), with 6 points awarded for three of a kind and 12 awarded for four of a kind.

Points are also similarly awarded after the hand has finished, based on the cards in each player's hand plus the starter card. In addition, the dealer scores points from their crib from four cards discarded by the players before the hand starts.

The perfect cribbage hand is worth 29 points. It occurs when a player holds three fives and a jack, and the starter card is also a five. The final five must be the same suit as the jack.

There is also a common but optional rule used in cribbage called "Muggins." If a player cannot claim their total score during any turn, their opponent can use the "Muggins" rule and peg any points they overlooked.