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How to Play Cribbage

Cribbage is a card game for two players, requiring a full pack of 52 cards. It can also be adapted for three, four, or five players.

Score is kept on a special cribbage board consisting of four or six rows of 30 holes each, in which pegs are set.



The dealer deals six cards, one at a time, to his opponent and to himself. Each player selects two cards from his six and places them face down near the dealer, forming an extra four-card hand, known as the crib. The crib belongs to the dealer.

The non dealer then cuts the rest of the pack, and the dealer turns up the top card, called the starter. If it is a jack, the dealer pegs, or scores, 2 points.

Playing Cribbage

The non dealer begins by playing a card face up in front of himself and announcing its value.

All numbered cards count their numerical value; all face cards are worth 10 and are called tenth cards; aces are worth 1. The dealer then places a card in front of himself, in a separate pile, and announces the combined value of the two cards, his opponent's and his own. Play continues alternately, each card value being added to the combined total until one of the players cannot play a card without totaling more than 31. This situation, called a go, scores 1 point for the other player, who must continue to play until he is unable to do so without exceeding 31. When neither player can play without scoring over 31, the player who called the go begins again with the count at zero.

If a player reaches exactly 31, he pegs 2 instead of 1 for go. Two points are scored for playing a card that makes a combined total of 15. Two points are also scored for playing a card of the same rank as one just played by the opponent. This is called a pair; the third card of that rank in sequence scores 6 points; the fourth, 12 points. A run of three or more cards, such as 3, 4, and 5, scores 1 point for each card.

Playing the last card of the eight in play scores 1 point.


At this point, scores are further advanced by showing; that is, by picking up the cards from the table and arranging them in various combinations for additional points. In showing, the starter card is included in each hand. Points are pegged on the board as soon as each hand is shown. The possible scoring combinations are as follows:

Fifteen: Two points are scored for each combination of cards adding up to 15. A single card may be used in as many different combinations as possible.

Pairs: Two points are scored for a pair, 6 points for three of a kind, and 12 points for four of a kind.

Runs: Runs of three, four, or five cards count 1 point for each card. A single card may be used in as many different combinations as possible.

Flush: Four points are scored if all four cards in the hand are of the same suit, 5 points if the starter is also of the same suit. Only five-card flushes score when they occur in the crib.

His nabs: A jack of the same suit as the starter, which scores 1 point.

Each player counts his score aloud in the above order. The non dealer counts and pegs his score first, then the dealer. The dealer also counts the crib and adds it to his score. Game is usually 121 points, which is equivalent to twice up and down the cribbage board plus an extra hole for game. A 61-point game is equivalent to once up and down the board plus an extra hole for game. Play ends when either player reaches the agreed total, whether by pegging or by counting his hand.

Each game counts 1 for the winner, but if the loser fails to pass the halfway mark (31 with game 61), he is lurched, and the winner scores two games.

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