What Is Nobs In Cribbage?

By Neal Taparia - 7/7/2023

Of all the cribbage rules that can give you surprise points, nobs is one of the most unique. Rather than relying on a winning combination of cards, nobs lets you score points for holding a single card: the Jack.

Now, you won’t get extra points for any old Jack in your hand — that would make it too easy. We’ll break down how the right Jack can help you win a game of cribbage.

(Make sure you know how to play cribbage before jumping into learning nobs!)

How Nobs Works

“Nobs” is when you have a Jack of the same suit as the start card. You’ll score it during the show when you score all your other cards — it doesn’t give you any extra points during pegging.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the dealer or the pone; if the start card is a heart and you have the Jack of hearts, you can score for nobs.

Are all Jacks worth extra points in cribbage? No, if a Jack is a different suit than the starter card, you won’t get extra points.

Why is it Called Nobs?

“One for his nobs” is the full rule, or sometimes “one for his knob.” No one is totally sure where the term originated, but we do know that “knob” is British slang for “head.” We’re also not sure why the Jack gets special treatment rather than any other face cards.

One For His Head, Two For His Heels: Nobs vs. Nibs

Nobs is not to be confused with nibs, or “two for his heels.” This is when the dealer draws a Jack as the start, or turn up card. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the two rules work:

Nobs Nibs
What it is A Jack in the same suit as the starter card A Jack is the starter card
Also Called One for his Knob Two for his Heels
Point Value 1 2
When to Score During the Show As soon as the dealer draws the starter card
Who Gets the Points Whoever has the jack The dealer

A good way for beginners to remember the difference is that you get one point for nobs because Jack has one head. You get two points for heels in cribbage because he has two heels.

Check out the other scoring rules for cribbage.

29, the Best Hand in Cribbage

The perfect cribbage hand, or 29-point hand, will get you the highest score possible in a game of cribbage. The perfect hand happens when the starter card is a 5 and your hand consists of all three other 5s and nobs.

This is an extremely rare cribbage hand. Many cribbage players play for years and never see this four-card combination.

Here how the cards score in the 29 hand:

  • Four 15s from Jack + 5 = 8 points
  • Four 15s from 5 + 5 + 5 = 8 points
  • Double pair royal (four-of-a-kind) = 12 points
  • Nobs = 1 point

Strategies for Jacks

Everyone discards into the crib before the dealer reveals the pone’s cut card as the starter card. That means you won’t know if a Jack in your hand will score nobs or not. 

If you’re tha non-dealer, you may want to hold off putting a Jack into your opponent’s crib. Just remember: You only get one point for nobs. Don’t sacrifice a higher-scoring card while hoping to prevent the dealer from getting a point.

Other Unusual Cribbage Rules

What is a skunk in cribbage? A skunk in cribbage is when you beat your opponent by 31-60 points. If you win by 61-90 points, it’s considered a double skunk — it really stinks for the loser!

Can you score a royal flush in cribbage? Yes and no. 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. Face cards in the run aren’t worth extra points.

A crib can only score a flush if it’s a five-card flush. That means all four cards in the crib and the start card must be the same suit, or it’s not worth any points.

Muggins. If you get competitive when playing card games, you will love the muggins rule. If you notice your opponent forgot to count points, you can call muggins at the beginning of your turn to take the points they missed.

So if you’re pegging and your opponent fails to peg up for a pair or for playing the last card, you can call muggins and peg up whatever points they should have earned.

There you have it. Now you know the quirkier rules of cribbage. Ready to play? You can play online or use our handy cribbage board template for a game in real life.