» How to Play Cribbage

It is unfortunate that so many people shy away from Cribbage because the equipment looks a bit complex. To play, two players must have a cribbage board and pegs and a standard deck of 52 playing cards.

The object of the game is to reach 121 points or more through the results of the various card deals. Points are won for receiving combinations of cards or for those in the player’s hand. The players are trying to reach a total of 31 from their hands.

How to Play Cribbage

To begin playing, the board is set between the two players and the pegs are inserted in the bottom row of the board. The cards are then dealt out with each player receiving six cards. Two of the six cards are laid face down and are the “crib”. The dealer will get the crib, and scores it at the end of each hand. This means that the other player will want to rid themselves of weaker cards, but not those that will create a good hand.

Next, the player who is not serving as the dealer cuts the deck and turns the top card from the bottom half of the deck over. If the card revealed is a jack, the dealer gets to move their peg up two holes in the cribbage board.
The player who is not the dealer plays the first card by laying it in front of themselves and speaking aloud the value of the card.

The dealer then does the same, but speaks out the combined values of the card.

How to Score in Cribbage

The values of the cards are as follows:

  • Ace= 1 point
  • 2 to 10=face value
  • Jack, Queen and King=10 points

The ultimate goal is 31, but players must stop if their cards will exceed the goal number. At this point they must say “go” to indicate that they would go over, and the other player continues until they reach 31. If this is impossible, they obtain a sum less than that. The cards used are laid face down in front of the players. Scoring for each hand is done in a variety of ways. There is a point to the player who did not say “go”, two if the player reached 31 exactly, two for a count of 15 during play, two if a player matches the rank of a card played by the opponent, six for three cards of the same rank or twelve if there are four cards of the same rank, and many other variants for sequences and combinations.

It is important to note that much of the scoring happens during play, and it is the responsibility of the players to ensure they keep track of the points they are winning.

Play continues in this way until all of the cards are gone. The non-dealer will score their discards first and then the dealer must score their hand along with the value of the crib. For the following rounds, the role of dealer alternates between the players and playing continues until one player’s pegs surpass the 121 mark.

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