Cribbage Rules

by Gary Sonnenberg

(Waukesha, WI)

Cribbage Rules: easy to pick up

Cribbage Rules: easy to pick up

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Rules created:
17th Century
Number of players:
30 mins

Quick verdict

Cribbage is a classic card game that seems to have originated in the 1600s. You can have hours of fun with a few friends or get more competitive in organized tournaments.

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The game and gameplay

You play with a standard deck of 52 cards and a special scoring track aptly called a cribbage board.

Cribbage is usually played by two people but can also be played with three (usually using a special 3-track board) and with four, playing partners.A full game of Cribbage consists of 121 points, which on most cribbage boards means you go around the scoring track twice. There are larger cribbage boards that have all 120 (plus starting) holes in one circuit.

Cribbage Rules

To start a hand of Cribbage, you deal six cards (with two players) to each player. Each player then must discard two of those cards into a new hand called the crib. The crib will later be scored by the dealer only.

After the crib has been formed, the non-dealer cuts the deck, and the dealer reveals the top card from the bottom portion of the deck. This cut card is placed face up on top of the full deck and is later used in scoring as a 5th card in all hands, including the crib.

Starting with the non-dealer, cards are played to the table (face up) one at a time, and a running total is called out. Players alternate playing their four cards until they can no longer play without going over 21. Points can be scored along the way as pairs, runs, and totals of 15 are revealed. Such scoring is usually called pegging.

FUN FACT: the phrase “Level pegging” comes from Cribbage. It’s when you are on the same score as your opponent.

After all cards have been played, the non-dealer first scores his hand, then the dealer does the same, and finally the dealer scores the crib. Points are given for pairs, runs, flushes, and notably totals of 15. Every combination of 15 scores 2 points.

The deal alternates between players. This can be important near the end of a close game because the non-dealer scores first, while the dealer scores two hands.

This video may help you to pick it up more easily.