How to Play Cribbage

How to Play Cribbage

What is Cribbage?

Cribbage is a game of cards played also with the aide of a Cribbage Board. It comes from 17th century England where it is thought to have been invented by a poet. Sir John Suckling is believed to have made an adaptation of an older game called “Noddy” about which next to nothing is known in modern days. Cribbage is popular in the New England states where the pilgrims first brought it over from England.

More Cribbage Fundamentals

Cribbage is played by two people. It is a card game using a regular deck of cards. The cards represent their numbers and face cards are tens and aces are ones. The suits are insignificant to the game but for few exceptions.

Terms and their meaning in play

The deal is a deal of six cards to each. Deals are determined in the first deal by a cut of the cards. The player getting the lower card deals. This player has the first crib. If the cards are of the same value they are cut again. The deal then alternates from player to player until the game is over. Best of three wins a hand; a fresh cut of the deck is done if there is a third game needed to decide the winner.

The dealer shuffles, the non-dealer cuts the cards. The dealer of course deals and the undealt part of the pack is placed face down on the table. At the end of a hand, the cards are gathered together and the whole pack is shuffled by the new dealer before the next hand.

The crib, and so the word cribbage, is the group of four cards remaining as an additional hand after the player chooses two cards for their first hand. The starter is the first card chosen from a cut of the deck into two. The cribbage board is used for keeping score.


Players play to 31 without going over. They show cards one at a time adding their value and trying not to go over 31. The card’s number values are added one to another as they go along. Once a player can’t play without going over 31, they shout, “go”. Play begins again with the same goal using the go pegs on the cribbage board. 2 points are given for hitting 31, 1 for being under, last card played in a hand gets 1 or it can earn 2 points if 31 is hit with that card.

Additional scoring

Pairs is scored when playing the same number previously played – this is a two-point play. Fifteen is 2 points for making the count exactly fifteen. Run is when a run of cards of graduated numbers in a row are played by the same player – this is also worth 2 points. You score a point for having a jack in your hand the same suit as your opponent; this is one of the rare times suits do count.

Extraneous rules

A new deal is called for the wrong number of cards dealt. Calling go when able to play gives your opponent 2 points.

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