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How To Play Cribbage


How To Play Cribbage

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How To Play Cribbage

How To Play Cribbage

A Comprehensive Guide to Playing Cribbage: The Classic Card Game

Cribbage is a timeless card game that combines strategy, skill, and a bit of luck. With its simple rules and engaging gameplay, it’s no wonder Cribbage has captivated players for centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a complete novice, this in-depth guide will provide you with everything you need to know to play Cribbage like a pro.

Game Overview

Cribbage is typically played by two or four players, using a standard 52-card deck. The objective of the game is to score the most points by forming combinations of cards (known as "cribs") and playing them in sets that meet specific criteria.


  1. Shuffle the deck: Shuffle the deck thoroughly before each game.
  2. Deal the hands: Deal six cards face down to each player.
  3. Cut the deck: The player to the dealer’s left cuts the deck into two piles.


The game progresses through three phases: the Crib, the Play, and the Show.

The Crib:

  1. Declare the crib: The player to the dealer’s right declares whether they want to take the crib or "cut" it for their opponent.
  2. Contribute cards to the crib: Both players contribute cards to the crib, which is a face-down pile of six cards. The player who declared the crib contributes two cards, while their opponent contributes four.

The Play:

  1. Play a card: Starting with the dealer, players take turns playing cards from their hand onto the "crib board," which is a specialized board or mat with scoring holes.
  2. Create combinations: As players play cards, they can create combinations, such as pairs, three-of-a-kinds, and flushes. Each combination earns a different number of points.
  3. Lay down the peg: When a combination is formed, the player who played the last card in the combination places a peg in the corresponding scoring hole on the crib board.

The Show:

  1. Show hands: Once all cards have been played, players show their hands to each other.
  2. Score points: Players score points for any combinations they have in their hand or the crib. The player with the highest score wins the round.


Cribbage uses a unique scoring system that awards points for various combinations and plays. The most common combinations and their corresponding points are:

  • Fifteens: Three or more cards totaling 15 (2 points)
  • Pairs: Two cards of the same rank (2 points)
  • Three-of-a-kind: Three cards of the same rank (6 points)
  • Four-of-a-kind: Four cards of the same rank (12 points)
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit (4 points)
  • Straight: Five cards in sequence (4 points)
  • Jack with the starter: A Jack of the same suit as the first card played (1 point)
  • His/Her nibs: The Jack of the same suit as the crib card (1 point)

Strategy Tips

  • Build a strong crib: Contribute cards to the crib that complement each other and have high point potential.
  • Play for points: Prioritize playing cards that will create combinations and earn you points.
  • Control the count: Keep track of the cards that have been played to avoid creating combinations that your opponent can score.
  • Play defensively: Use your cards to block your opponents from creating high-scoring combinations.
  • Manage the peg: Place your peg strategically to maximize your points and minimize your opponent’s.


There are numerous variations of Cribbage, each with its own unique rules and scoring system. Some popular variations include:

  • Muggins Cribbage: Players score points for creating specific combinations of cards within a certain number of plays.
  • Oklahoma Cribbage: Players use a modified deck with only 48 cards, and the scoring system is slightly different.
  • Three-handed Cribbage: Played with three players, using a modified deck and slightly different rules.
  • Five-card Cribbage: Played with a standard 52-card deck, but each player receives only five cards in each hand.


Q: What is the difference between a crib and a hand?
A: The crib is a face-down pile of six cards that players contribute to before the Play phase. The hand is the six cards that each player holds during the Play phase.

Q: How do I count points in Fifteens?
A: Fifteens are scored by totaling any combination of three or more cards to equal 15. Aces count as 1, face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings) count as 10, and all other cards count as their face value.

Q: What is the maximum score I can get in a single round?
A: The maximum score in a single round is 29 points, achieved by scoring 12 points in the Play phase and 17 points in the Show phase.

Q: Can a player score points in both the Play and Show phases?
A: Yes, a player can score points in both phases of the game. However, a combination that has been scored in the Play phase cannot be scored again in the Show phase.

Q: What is the advantage of having the cut?
A: Having the cut gives a player the option to choose the cards they want to contribute to the crib or discard. This can be beneficial if the player has weak cards or if they want to prevent their opponent from scoring certain combinations.