Learn The Rules of Cribbage and How To Play It

If you are looking for a quick two-player card game, Cribbage is the one. This is a fast-paced game unique for its scoring rules. It might take a game or two to get familiar with the variety of scoring options, but once you understand how it works – that’s when the real fun begins.

What is Cribbage?

We believe that Cribbage arose from a similar game called “Noddy” back in the 17th century. The creator of the game is a wealthy English poet Sir John Suckling. We haven’t changed the rules since and the pegging board used for keeping track of scores remains in the game to this day.

You can usually play Cribbage with one friend, but can also involve four players divided into two groups. If you don’t have a friend nearby, you can always play Cribbage online and enjoy your free time. Game requirements are a standard 52-card deck and a unique scoring board with pegs, although, with online versions of the game, scoring is done automatically.

Players take turns playing the cards they have in their hands to reach a count of 31 and score points in the meantime. The first one to score 121 points wins. Keep on reading to learn all about scoring options and rules.

How to play Cribbage

Scoring is an interesting part of the game, but we will talk about that later. First, let’s get familiar with a few simple rules of the game.

1.   Determine who is the Dealer

The first step is to determine who will be the dealer. In most card games, determining the dealer is only to set an order in which players make moves, but in Cribbage the dealer has a big advantage over the other player.

Simply shuffle the deck and both players get to pick a card. The card with the lower value gets the role of the dealer in the first round. Naturally, roles will switch in the next round.

The dealer in the first round creates a significant advantage on the scoring board.

2.   Shuffle and deal

The cards that are in the game are all cards from the deck except the Jokers.

The dealer randomly shuffles the deck and deals six cards to each player, starting with the opponent.

3.   Create the Crib

Both players choose two cards to “put away”. We do not use these four unrevealed cards from the Crib in the play. The Crib belongs to the Dealer who will use it later in order to score some points.

4.   Pick a starter card

After we create the crib, the deck will be cut and we reveal the last card from the upper part to be the starter card. Just like the Crib, we do not use the starter card until scoring. If a starter card is a Jack of any suit, the dealer automatically scores two points.

5.   Play

The non-dealer is the first to expose one of their cards. Players then take turns in revealing cards one by one while keeping track of the count. Every card has the same value as its number. Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings count as ten and Aces count as one.

The goal is to reach a count of 31. If a player can’t play a card without exceeding 31, they must say “Go”. The opponent then takes a turn, and if both players can’t reach 31, the count goes back to zero and a new round begins.

How to score points in Cribbage?

Scoring differentiates this game from others. There are several ways to gain points in Cribbage.

Scoring points during play

As we previously said, if a starter card is a Jack, the dealer scores a point. Also, when the player says “Go”, the opponent scores, and the last player to reveal a card in a hand gets one point.

Playing a card that leads to a count of 15 or 31 earns two points. Creating a sequence of three or more consecutive cards will score as many points as there are cards in the order (for example, a sequence of three, four, five, and six will score 4 points).

Creating a pair by placing two cards of the same value one on top of the other gives you 2 points while creating a row of three or four same cards will score you 6 or 12 points.

Scoring points at the end of the hand

We also earn points after all cards from hands have been played. Players can make different scoring combinations using the cards they played during the hand and the starter card.

Any combination of playing cards and the starter card which gives a total of 15 scores two points. In case all four playing cards are in the same suit creating a Flush, 4 points are added. If the Flush is in the same suit as the starter card, additional 5 points are added. If a player had a Jack of the same suit as the starter card, this counts as one point.

In the end, the dealer gets to reveal his Crib and collect points. We combine the cards from the Crib with the starter card following the same scoring rules.


In case you are not already familiar with Cribbage, all these combinations may seem like a lot at first. But don’t let that scare you. Rules are rather simple and once you get a grip on all scoring options, you will fall in love with the game, just like thousands of people over the centuries.

After all, the beauty of this game is strategizing. Once you have mastered all the rules, start thinking about all factors that can make you a winner at Cribbage. It is so much fun, we promise!

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