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Cribbage Rules

   To play Cribbage download Net Cribbage for Windows or use Cribbage Java Applet.

   1. Purpose of the game

   To be the first to score 121 points (61 is option) or over accumulated over several deals. Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occuring during the play or occuring in a player's hand or in the cards discarded before the play, which form the crib. Two players use a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank K(high), Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A(low).

   2. Board and Pegs

   The score is kept by means of a board and pegs. Starting at one end of the board players peg their scores as they occur using their two pegs alternately: the forward peg shows the player's latest score, and the rear peg shows the previous score.

   3. Deal

   The first deal is determined by cutting the cards. The player cutting the lower card deals and has the first crib. The deal then alternates from hand to hand until the game is over.
   The dealer shuffles and deals 6 cards face down to each player one at a time. The undealt part of the pack is placed face down on the table.

   4. Discard

   Each player chooses two cards to discard face down to form the crib. These four cards are set aside until the end of the hand. The crib will count for the dealer - non-dealer will try to throw cards that are unlikely to make valuable combinations, but must balance this against keeping a good hand for himself. Dealer, on the other hand, may sometimes find it pays to place good cards in the box - especially if they cannot be used to best advantage in hand. After discarding starter is formed.

   5. Play of the cards

   Starting with the non-dealer, the players take turns to play single cards face up in front of them. In this stage of the game the total value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31. As each card is played, the player announces the running total. If a card is played which brings the total exactly to 31, the player pegs 2 claiming Thirty one for two as he does so.
   A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play a card but says Go, leaving his opponent to continue if possible, pegging for any further combinations made. Bringing the total to exactly 31 pegs 2, but if neither player can lay a card without going over 31, then the last player to lay a card pegs One for last.
   The cards that have been played are turned over and a fresh round of play starts with the unplayed cards in exactly the same way. The opponent of the player who played last in the previous round (scoring Thirty one for two or One for last) plays first in the new round. This second round of play again continues until neither can play without going over 31. The last player again scores "1 for last" or "31 for 2", and if either player has any cards left there is a further round. Play continues for as many rounds as necessary until both players' cards are exhausted. Towards the end, it may happen that one player has run out of cards but the other still has several cards. In that case the player who still has cards simply carries on playing and scoring until all his cards have been played.

   6. Scoring during the play

   A player who makes any of the following scores during the play pegs them immediately.
  • 15: If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you peg 2 claiming Fifteen two.

  • 31: If you play a card which brings the total to exactly 31 you peg 2.

  • Pair: If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card you peg 2 for a pair.

  • Pair Royal: If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rank is played, the player of the third card scores 6 for pair royal.

  • Double Pair Royal: Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession. The player of the fourth card scores 12.

  • Run: The player of a card which completes a run scores for the run; the score is equal to the number of cards in the run. The cards to not have to be played in order, but no other cards must intervene.

  • Last Card: If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoever played the last card pegs 1.

   7. Scoring after end of the play

   First the non-dealer's hand is exposed and scored. The starter also counts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted.
  • 15: Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points.

  • Pair: A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points.

  • Run: The score is equal to the number of cards in the run.

  • Flush: If all four cards of the hand are the same suit, 4 points are scored for flush. If the start card is the same suit as well, the flush is worth 5 points. There is no score for having 3 hand cards and the start all the same suit.

  • One For His Nob: If the hand contains the jack of the same suit as the start card, you peg One for his nob.

   After non-dealer's hand has been shown and the score pegged, dealer's hand is shown, scored and pegged in the same way. Finally the dealer exposes the four cards of the crib and scores them with the starter. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands except that a flush in the crib only scores if all four crib cards and the starter are of the same suit. If that happens the flush scores 5.

More Rules ...

   You can find Cribbage rules on the John McLeod page "Rules of Card Games: Six card cribbage". This is a very comprehensive library of the rules of hundreds of card games on the Web.

Historical Excursus

   Cribbage in England is primarily a pub game - indeed, it is one of the few games allowed by Statute to be played in a public house for small stakes. A game of low animal cunning where players must balance a number of different objectives, remain quick witted enough to recognise combinations, and be able to add up, it is perhaps not the most obvious of games to be so firmly associated with the English pub. It is a game where experience counts for a great deal - though luck, of course, has a large part.


   Want to learn game strategies and rules? Check out these books! Bookmark us, so you can remember where you saw that Cribbage book! These books are shipped from Amazon.

  • cover Play Cribbage to Win by Dan Barlow.
    It's a race around a board that takes luck and skill--and if you're hoping to reach the "finish line" first, here are the rules, the skill-building quizzes, and the cleverest tactics needed to win. If you've never played before, you'll get an explanation of the game's basics and scoring--who goes...
  • cover Cribbage: How to Play and How to Win by Frank Buttler.
    One of the standard works on cribbage, widely played and increasingly popular all over the world. This guide to Cribbage first introduces the game to those who have never played, then explains its intricacies to more experienced players and gives advice for improving the chances of winning. The book describes the six-card and five-card games in detail and shows numerous card combinations.
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