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Cribbage or Crib is a card game that involves forming combinations of cards over a series of hands to accumulate points. Points are mainly scored by runs, regardless of suit; by pairs, triples and quadruples; and by cards that add up to 15.

Cribbage was invented by Sir John Suckling, a British poet, around the year 1635. It was derived from an older card game called Noddy, about which little is known. It has survived, with no major changes, as one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world.

It is generally played by two people, although it can be played by three or four, or by a pair of two-person teams.

The game has several unusual features: one is the crib (or box), from which the game takes its name. This is a separate, four-card hand made up of discards from each player, which counts for the dealer. Another is that each hand has two distinct scoring stages, the play and the show, see below.

Visually, cribbage is known for its scoring board - a series of holes on which score is tallied with pegs. Scores can be kept on a piece of paper, but a cribbage board is almost always used, since scoring occurs throughout the game, not just at the conclusion of hands as in most other card games.

There are two main designs of cribbage board:

In both cases there are two pegs for each player, so that if a player loses track in the count one peg still marks the previous score. The holes are divided into groups of 5.


Table of contents
1 Playing the game
2 Tactics
3 Statistics
4 External Link

Playing the game

The dealer rotates with each hand, this is important because of the advantage the crib gives to the dealer (especially in five-card). If at any point in a hand a player pegs out (that is reaches the winning score), then the game ends and he wins. A somewhat unique feature of cribbage is that as soon as a player pegs out, the game is over, this can happen during the play of cards or while the hands are being scored.

The deal and the formation of the crib

The dealer shuffles the pack and deals the required number of cards. The players then discard cards face-down to form the crib, which will be by the dealer.

The turn-up

The player to the dealers left cuts the pack and the dealer turns up the top card. If the card is a Jack, the dealer scores two points "for his heels".

The play

Each player in turn plays a card, (the dealer is last to play), stating the total as he goes (face cards count as 10, aces as 1). The total must not pass 31. If a player has no cards left or no cards small enough to play, then he misses his turn.

If a player cannot play a card without bringing the total over 31, the player says "Go" and the other player must then play any cards that keep the total at 31 or less, he also pegs 1 point for the go. (or 2 points if he hits 31 exactly). The count then resets to 0, and the player who said "go" leads the next card.

The cards should be played face up in front of the player. Players peg points as follows:

In all games except five card, when no player can go the cards played are turned over and the tally begins again at 0. An example from a two player game:

Player 1 plays a 10, saying "Ten",
Player 2 plays a 5, saying "Fifteen for two" and pegging two points,
Player 1 plays a 5, saying "Twenty for two" and pegging two points,
Player 2 plays a 5, saying "Twenty-five for six" and pegging six points,
Player 1 plays a 6, saying "Thirty-one for two" and pegging two points.

Another example:

Player 1 plays a 9, saying "Nine",
Player 2 plays a 7, saying, "Sixteen",
Player 1 plays a 8, saying, "Twenty-four for three" and pegging three points (run of 7,8,9),
Player 2 plays a 5, saying, "Twenty-nine",
Player 1 having no cards which would keep the total at 31 or less, says "Go",
Player 2 plays an Ace, saying "Thirty" and pegging one point (for the "go"),
Player 1 plays a 9, saying "Nine" (the count has been reset after the "go"),
Player 2 plays a 3, saying "Twelve",
Player 1 plays a 4, saying "Sixteen and one for last" and pegs one point (for the last card of the hand)

The show

Each player in turn (in the order of play), ending with the dealer, totals up the points in his hand, including the turn-up card, and pegs the amount. The order in which this is done is important as a player who tallies his score first may peg out and thus win the game even though another player's tally would take him to an even greater score. In a standard, two-handed game, the hands are scored in the following order:

  1. Non-dealer's hand
  2. Dealer's hand
  3. Dealer's crib

In general hands are scored starting with the player to the dealer's left, then rotating round to finish with the dealer's hand, then the dealer's crib.

Points are scored for:

For example, if a player has the Ace, 6, 7 and 8 of Spades in his hand and the turn up card is the 6 of Hearts, he would score:

"Fifteen six" - for three ways to form 15, that is 7 and 8, and Ace, 6 and 8 twice,
"and two" - for a pair of sixes,
"and six" - for two runs of three (6, 7, 8),
"and four" - for the flush,
"makes eighteen" - the total.

The score is traditionally read as shown, though players may simply declare the score, particularly with low-scoring hands. The highest possible score in six card cribbage is 29, for a holding of 5, 5, 5, J with a turn-up of a 5 of the same suit as the Jack. This scores:
"fifteen sixteen" - for J-5 four times and 5-5-5 four times,
"and twelve" - for four 5s,
"and one for his nob makes twenty-nine."
(Don't be too concerned about how to score this particular hand, as acquiring this hand is extremely rare).

In the seven-card game it is a whopping 46, scored by 4,4,5,5,6,6 (including turn-up), that is fifteen 16, 24 in runs and 6 in pairs.

Not every score below these can actually be made and the lowest of those that can't is 19 (except in seven-card). Because of this, a player with a hand scoring 0 will often declare "nineteen". Other common calls are "Fifteen two and the rest won't do", and "Fifteen four and the rest don't score".

The crib

Finally the dealer tallies the points in the crib. This works precisely the same as tallying the other hands, except that a flush scores only if its suit matches that of the turn-up card.


Forming the crib

There are certain cards and card combinations that are likely to be beneficial to a hand, so a non-dealer should try to keep them in his hand and the dealer should try to keep any good combinations together, either in his hand or in the crib. It is less beneficial to plan for the play Obviously pairs, runs and combinations totalling fifteen are good. Other things to look out for are:

The play

Some of these tactics will only work in a two player game, with more players it is harder to devise a strategy. If you play first: In general:


External Link