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How to Play Cribbage

Cribbage is a game for two or more people, though the following rules are for the most commonly played version, which is a two person match. It uses a single deck of 52 cards, a board, and pegs to track scoring. Cards are ranked Ace through K, Ace being the lowest.

Each card is attributed with a point value as follows:

                     A=1    2=2    3=3    4=4    5=5    6=6    7=7    8=8    9=9    10=10    Jack=10    Queen=10    King=10

When either player score points, they move their peg that many holes in their track. Players use the back peg to jump the front peg as they score. This is called "pegging". The first player to reach the final hole wins.

learn how to play cribbage fast!
How to play cribbage for beginners. Flip the cut card and begin to play cribbage!
Learning how to play cribbage is easy! Here we discard two cards into the crib.
How to play cribbage for beginners. This is how cribbage looks when you're doing it right!

Each player picks a lane on the cribbage board and peg color then places their pegs in the first two holes at the start. Remove the jokers from the deck and shuffle the cards.

Both players draw a card from the deck. The player who draws the lowest card deals first.

In a tie, draw again. The role of the dealer will alternate after every hand.

The dealer deals six cards to each player. 

Players choose four cards to keep and two cards to place face down into the crib, which belongs to the dealer. No one gets to look at the crib until the hand has played out.

The non-dealer cuts the deck and the dealer flips one card face up - this is called the starter card.

If this card is a Jack of any suit, the dealer says "Nibs" and pegs two points. Each time a player scores, they place their back peg that many points ahead of their front peg.

At this point, each player should have four cards in their hands, four cards face-down in the dealers crib, a shuffled deck with a starter card face up, and a cribbage board ready for pegging. 

The Play

The Deal

The Setup

Next, the non-dealer lays a card from their hand face up in front of them and says its point value out loud.

Then the dealer plays a card face up and says the sum of the cards out loud. This goes back and forth until 31 is reached, or as close as the players can get with the cards they have. 

How to play cribbage tip: if your opponent plays a Jack, it's more likely they have a 5 as well for a fifteen.

If a player cannot play without going over 31, they say "Go" and the opponent plays again as many cards as possible. If they cannot, the player who played the last card pegs one point

If a player can play a card that makes a sum of 15 or 31, they peg two points. Players can also score points by playing pairs or runs. Runs can be out of order, like 9-J-10, but go strictly by rank (not 9-10-Q) and score one point per card. Runs can also be more than three cards, like 10-8-9-7. A pair is two points, 3 of a kind is six points, and 4 of a kind is twelve points.

If either player still has cards after 31, or as close as possible, they start from zero again and the player who didn't play the last card begins.

The play is over when both players have no cards left in their hand. Again, the player who played the last card pegs one point.

Are you just learning how to play cribbage? This online tutorial can help you understand cribbage before you can say "Nobs!"

The Count

The non-dealer counts the total points in their hand first. The count includes the four cards and the starter card, for a total of five usable cards. The ways to score are as follows:

  • Pair = 2 Points

  • 3 of a kind = 6 Points

  • 4 of a kind = 12 Points

  • Run  = 1 point per card

  • Flush = 1 point per card
    (Four or more of the same suit)

  • Fifteen = 2 Points
    (Any cards that equal 15 in total)

  • Nobs = One point
    (Jack the same suit as starter card)

After the non-dealer counts their points, they peg for that amount. Then the dealer does the same.

Trying to learn cribbage so you can beat your friends at their favorite card game? This tutorial will get you up to speed with cribbage basics fast.

The Crib

All cards except for the starter card are discarded, and the dealer reveals the four cards in the crib. The dealer then proceeds to count the points in the crib the same as they did during the count.

The only difference when counting the crib is that  flushes MUST include the starter card in addition to the four other cards in the crib. After counting, the dealer takes their points.

And that's the end of the hand! Alternate dealers and continue until someone wins. Enjoy your new Cardboard Cribbage!

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