How to Play Cribbage

Six-card cribbage is the most common form played in the English-speaking world. Two players use a standard 52-card pack, with the cards ranking king high to ace low.

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Setting Up



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  1. Place the cribbage board between the two players. Start pegs at the top of the cribbage board.

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  2. Win the game by being the first to score 121 points over a series of games.

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  3. Cut the cards to determine who deals.

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  4. Shuffle and deal if you received the lower card.

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  5. Deal alternately six cards to yourself and six cards to your opponent.

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  6. Place two of the six cards facedown, both if you're the dealer and if you're the nondealer, to form the crib. The dealer gets the crib and gets to score it after the hand is played.

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  7. Allow the nondealer to cut the deck.

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  8. Turn the top card of the bottom half of the cut deck over to determine the start.

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  9. Move two holes with your peg if the start was a jack and you're the dealer.

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  10. Place the start with the crib to be counted at the end of the game.
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Each player uses two pegs moving ahead of each other like footsteps, and both players start in the same place on the cribbage board.

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Playing the Hands



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  1. Play any card from your hand if you're the nondealer. Call out the value of that card as you do so.

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  2. Play any card from your hand if you're the dealer. Call out the sum of the two cards as you do so.

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  3. Alternate playing cards until the sum of 31 is reached. Stop playing cards if adding your card would exceed the sum of 31.

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  4. Say "Go," and the other player must go on playing until he reaches 31 or until he cannot play a card making the sum less than 31.

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  5. Score one peg if you're the player coming closest to 31.

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  6. Score two pegs if you reach exactly 31.

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  7. Turn the cards you've played (both dealer and nondealer do this) facedown in front of you after a "Go" or 31 has been reached.

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  8. Take turns playing in this way until all the cards in both players' hands are used up.

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  9. Score each hand. The nondealer scores his discards first, then the dealer scores his hand followed by the crib.

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  10. Alternate the deal. The nondealer of the first hand now shuffles the deck and starts a new hand

Face cards count as ten points, all others count their actual value

The following combinations count for points during play of hand(s):

  • When cumulative total of cards played is 15 = 2 points.
  • 2 matching cards played in sequence = 2 points.
  • 3 of a kind = 6 points.
  • 3 cards in sequence (don't have to be same suit) = 3 points.
  • 4 cards in sequence = 4 points.
  • As already mentioned; 1 point for last play closest to 31 total points (without going over) and 2 points if able to play a card that brings play total to exactly 31.
  • If players still have cards to play, start another play until all cards are used.


Special counts in the hand after play

3 cards in sequence + a pair = 8 points.

Additional points can be scored, depending on the cards in the doubled run. Example: 4,5,5,6. There would be 8 points (as above) plus 4 points for 2 sets of cards totaling to 15. A pair scores 2 points. 3 of a kind is 3 points.

To achieve a good score try to save any of the following:

  • Combinations that add to 15.
  • 2 or 3 of a kind.
  • Runs of 3 or 4.
  • 3 card run, with one value doubled.

Aces can be useful in play - to score the 31 point.

When the other person lays down a card and you lay down the same card, move your peg 2 spaces.

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