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Cribbage - the Card Game

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Cribbage in action.

Cribbage is one of the most entertaining two player card games ever created. There are a number of variations, so some of the rules may be different from how other people play. This doesn't make a whole lot of difference really, as long as the rules are consistent.

What You Will Need

  • One deck of playing cards
  • One willing opponent
  • A crib board1

A Crib Board

Every crib board contains four rows of 60 holes (two rows per person), with marker lines every five holes for easy counting. The objective of cribbage is to be the first person to score 120 points.

Playing the Game

There are three main parts to the game of cribbage: the deal, point play and hand scoring.

The Deal

  1. Shuffle the cards thoroughly.

  2. Deal out hands of six cards to both players.

  3. Each player keeps four of their cards and puts the other two aside, or 'into the crib'.

  4. The non-dealing player cuts or taps the deck of cards, then turns over the uppermost card (known as the starter), this will be used during hand scoring.

Point Play

Starting with the non-dealing player, each player puts down a card face up and calls out the total value of all cards played so far. Aces have a value of one and Jacks, Queens and Kings all have a value of ten. A card's suit has absolutely no effect on its value.


  • Player A puts down the eight of hearts and calls 'eight'.
  • Player B puts down the two of spades and calls 'ten'.
  • Player A puts down the King of spades and calls '20'.
  • And so on and so forth.

The total is not allowed to surpass 31, so when neither player can play a card, the person who played the last card scores one point and the total is reset to zero. Other scoring opportunities are:

  • Getting a total of 15 which equals two points
  • Getting a total of 31 which equals two points
  • Last card or 'go' which equals one point
  • A pair which equals two points
  • A triple which equals six points
  • A quadruple which equals 12 points
  • A run of three cards (five-four-six) equals three points
  • A run of four cards (nine-10-J-Q) equals four points
  • Any longer run scores one point per card in the run

Runs can be in any order and with any mix of suits.

Once both players have played out all their cards, they move to the next part of the game.

Scoring the Hand

Starting with the non-dealing player, each player gets a score for their hand. When scoring a hand, the 'starter' card is considered to be a part of the hand being scored. The scoring system is as follows:

  • The same as listed above
  • A flush (four cards in your hand in the same suit) which scores four points
  • A flush with same suit as 'starter' which scores five points
  • A Jack in the same suit as 'starter' which scores two points

Sample Hands

Here are a couple of sample hands scored, to more fully explain the scoring system.

Sample Hand One

  • Four of Hearts
  • Five of Hearts
  • Six of Hearts
  • King of Hearts


  • Ace of Spades
CombinationsPoints Scored
Run of three (4H, 5H, 6H)Three points
15 (4H + 5H + 6H)Two points
15 (5H + KH)Two points
FlushFour points
Grand Total11 points

Sample Hand Two

  • Ace of Diamonds
  • Ace of Spades
  • Two of Hearts
  • Three of Diamonds


  • Ace of Clubs
CombinationsPoints Scored
Run of three (1D, 2H, 3D)Three points
Run of three (1S, 2H, 3D)Three points
Run of three (1C, 2H, 3D)Three points
Three of a kind (1D, 1S, 1C)Six points
Grand total15 points

Sample Hand Three

  • Ace of Hearts
  • 10 of Diamonds
  • Jack of Clubs
  • King of Hearts


  • Queen of Clubs
Combinations Points Scored
Run of four (10D, JC, QC, KH)Four points
Jack in same suit as starterTwo points
Grand totalSix points

After each player has scored their hand, the dealer takes the crib (the four cards that were put aside earlier) and scores that as his/her hand, too. Once the crib has been scored the non-dealer becomes the dealer for the next round and it all begins again. The first player to have a total score greater than 120 wins.

1A crib board is normally used to keep score but can be replaced by almost anything; bottle caps, biscuits, money or whatever else that you would like to use. Crib boards vary in shape and size, but usually have a series of regularly-spaced holes that small pegs are placed in to keep score.

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