Cribbage rules

Simple cribbage rules

The rules of cribbage are simple - it's one of the easiest card games to learn and certainly one of the most satisfying. Once you've read through our simple rules for cribbage, you'll be playing in no time!

Cribbage belongs to the family of card games known as 'adders' - that is, games in which the idea is to add successive card values to a running total with the aim of making certain totals - in this case, 31. In the first phase of the hand, players take turns playing a card from their hand which is added to the running total. Two points are scored for making the total 15 or 31. Pairs and sequences also earn points. Once the hands have been played out in this way, the players then score points based on the pairs and sequences in their hands, plus the combinations that add up to 15, and record the score on the cribbage board. Each player is free to choose which card to play as long as it is legal according to the rules of cribbage.

Cribbage tutorial

The interweaving of luck and skill in cribbage is particularly interesting. Although you have no control over the cards you receive (and thus the points you score in the second phase), there is much opportunity for skilful play in the first, or pegging, phase. A good player can make many more points from a given hand than a novice. However, the element of chance is such that a single high-scoring hand can strongly affect the outcome of the whole game. Thus a rank beginner can comfortably beat an expert, given only a little luck. Over many games, though, the luck of the deal should average out and the skilful player's edge will become apparent. You can find more about the odds of various deals and the distribution of cribbage hands on the cribbage facts page.

This page explains simple cribbage rules and cribbage terms, for those who just want to know how to play cribbage. You can find some advanced tips on our cribbage strategy page, or for a change from the standard "Hoyle" cribbage rules, check out variations of cribbage. If you're learning cribbage and you want to play on your computer, see the Free cribbage games for Windows page, or practice against other people over the Internet with our list of online cribbage sites. A great place to start learning is our cribbage books section which has links to some of the best books on cribbage. You'll even find out how to organise your own cribbage tournaments with your friends!

If you have any questions about cribbage rules or how to count a tricky hand, go to the contact page, or email us at and we'll do our best to answer you! Alternatively, post your question in our cribbage forums.

Cribbage rules for beginners

Printable rules of cribbage

To print out all of the cribbage rules pages, visit the Printable Cribbage Rules page.

Cribbage boards and keeping score

Although the rules of cribbage do not actually require it, the traditional method of keeping score in a game of cribbage is to use a cribbage board. This is a flat board, usually made of wood, with a series of holes to show each player's score. Each player has two pins which mark her current and previous score. If she makes a score of 5, she moves the back pin 5 holes ahead of the front pin to mark her new total.

For more information on the history of the cribbage board see:

Cribbage terms

Cribbage has its own unique and interesting vocabulary. Here is our quick guide to the cribbage terms you need to know:

  • Crib - the dealer's extra hand
  • Pegging - marking scores on the cribbage board, or more generally, the card-playing phase of the game
  • Muggins - claiming points your opponent failed to notice
  • Stinkhole - the 120th hole, one short of winning
  • His nob - extra point scored for having a jack of the turn-up suit
  • His heels - 2 point score by the dealer for turning up a jack

Règles du jeu de cribbage

Cribbage is extremely popular not only in the United States and Europe but also in Canada. You can find cribbage rules in French here:

More about cribbage rules

No discussion of the rules of cribbage would be complete without a mention of John McLeod's excellent Six Card Cribbage page, part of the amazingly comprehensive Card Games site. John has much more information about rules variants and different forms of cribbage.

For a concise and accurate description of the rules, see The Rules of Cribbage by James Masters, part of the Masters Traditional Games online shop, which also sells excellent hand-made cribbage boards and cribbage boxes.

Learning to play cribbage

One of the best ways to get the hang of playing cribbage is to play against the computer. See our Free Cribbage Downloads page or check out the commercial games available for Windows cribbage or Mac.

Penalty points in cribbage

There are many situations in tournament cribbage where penalties can be scored. See our Penalties in cribbage page for full details.

Did we answer your question? If not please email and our busy team of cribbage experts will do their best to help! You could also ask your question on the Cribbage Corner Forum.

must all 5 cards in the crib

must all 5 cards in the crib be the same suit to score the 5 points for a flush?

Although you can score a

Although you can score a 4-point flush in the hand, in the crib all 5 cards must be the same suit. See our cribbage flush page for more details!

Crib flush

Yes. If your flush is with the crib, the drawn card must also be of the same suit. To get a flush in your main hand, only the cards you are holding need to be of the same suit.



Miss deal

If the dealer miss deals, does he miss his crib?

It is my understanding that

It is my understanding that the dealer loses the deal (and thus the crib) if they misdeal.

Missing Deals

I guess your question, is if the dealer makes a mistake and 'doesn't deal" do they also get a crib. The answer is no. Only the dealer that deals the cards gets the crib. Be careful though, there might be times where it is advantageous NOT to be the dealer (especially in end game scenarios).


If your statement was about making an error, you don't 'lose' the deal and the crib. (Example would be exposing a card while dealing, dealing too many/few cards etc.) The cards are then reshuffled and re-dealt at that point.


I have three, 3's and a 9 in my hand do i count 10 or 12

Counting 3-3-3-9


You didn't mention what the turn-up card was, but I'm assuming it doesn't affect the score. To count the 15s in this hand you know you need the 9, and you need to make 6 with a combination of other cards. You have three 3s, so any two of those 3s would do to help make 15. There are three ways to pick any two from three (try it if you don't believe me!), so there are three 15s in this hand, for 6 points.

In addition you have three of a kind (sometimes called a pair royal), which for the same reason as we just saw, counts as three pairs, for another 6 points, that's 12 total.

I hope this helps!

three 3's and a 9 total 12 points

Three 3 cards and a 9 are 12 points without counting the cut card: fifteens for 6 points and three of a kind (three pairs) for a total of 12 points.


12 fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, 3 of a kind for 6 makes 12


if there is a count in the crib of 31 do you get two points?


Scoring to 31 only gives you points when you are pegging, not in your hands.


2-2-8-3 and K as the turn-up card

2-2-8-3 = 15 for 2 2-3-K = 15

2-2-8-3 = 15 for 2
2-3-K = 15 for 4
2-3-K = 15 for 6
and the pair of 2's for 8 points


please count this hand I received cribbage rules with a new board and they say this hand can count up to 29! Here is the hand 4 4 5 6 6

This hand (4h, 4d, 5h, 6h,

This hand (4h, 4d, 5h, 6h, 6d) is 24.

The 15's are as follows:
For 8 points.
Then the double-double counts as 16 for 24 total.


I should have added the actual 29 hand.

5h, 5d, 5c, Js with the 5 of spades being the turn card.

I put down an ace and am told

I put down an ace and am told to go. I put down another ace for 31. Do I get four points (31 + pair) or do I get five points (31 + pair + the go)?

Re: I put down an ace and am told

You get four points: two for the pair, and two for 31 (which includes go; clearly your opponent can't play another card without going over 31).

do u get the extra point if

do u get the extra point if its the 8th card played?

8th Card

Not sure what your question is, but if you play the 8th and final card when counting you would get whatever combination score you have and also one for the go or two for 31. Say the play goes like this A, 2, 3 (for three), 4 (for four), 5 (for 7 15-2 and a 5-card run), 6 (for six), 4 (for three), 3 (for four, a three-card run and the final go.) If that wasn't what you were asking, please reply back and we will try and clarify.


sorry i meant if u get 31 on

sorry i meant if u get 31 on the 8th card played do you get 2 points for 31 and 1 point for last card played

Last Card

In answer to your question, no you don't 'both' get a score of two for 31 and a point for the last card. The 'last card' is really just a go (as your pone cannot play anymore cards). What is interesting is that getting to 31 exactly is technically a go + 1 for a bonus. So you cannot have two goes scored in the same count to 31, just like if your pone says go and you have to lay down 2 cards, you don't get a go for each of them, only the last one. Hope that makes sense.


You get 4 points as the go gets no points because you have the ace for 31.

Counting/Scoring during play

The following cards were played in order:
4 - 6 - 5. Obviously this addes up to 15, but there is also a run here. As this happens during play, do I peg 2 points (2 for 15), 3 points (for the run), or 5 points (a total of both scores)?

Assuming that these were the

Assuming that these were the first 3 cards played - you score "15-2" for making the running total 15, not for any combination of cards which make 15. And another 3 for the run, making 5 points total.

stink hole

Some wise guys state " if one is in the stink hole, they can only go out if they get one point". What malarkey , i say!!! what do the cribbage Gods say??
I say it doesnt mnatter at all, get 2, maybe 6 off 3 of a kind, what does it matter??? i have never heard of such a thang in 40 years of playing.....i have consulted the bibles of cribbage and not a peep on the subject.. set the record straight, i submit to your wisdom.

stink hole

I've played this rile for many years - even if only a local rule and not an official rules of Cribbage. This is not an official rules you will find in any tournament - it is only a rule that can be applied when the players at a table agree to it in a friendly match. The actual rule has a number of variations - but for my games we say that if you land in the stink hole you cannot get out without having exactly one point - which is essentially saying that you can't get out without a "go". Any other points in your hand are forfeited. For example, if you are the dealer and you land in the "stink hole" you forfeit your hand and you crib to the next round or until you get a "go" - regardless of the number of rounds left in the game. In addition, if you are given a "go" and you have cards that give you "31" then you still cannot get out. Anyway - these are my local rules and I've been playing with these rules for the last 25 years - and got them from me mother. Cheers and I hope this helps you play - and as I've said you don't have to agree to the rules - no official in any tournament would uphold this one. It just adds to the fun of the game and some additional meaning to the term "stink hole".



cribbage cut with 4 players

what person on what side of dealer cuts the deck for crib??

Cutting the deck...

Actually there are two different times that the deck is cut in a cribbage game. (required in tournament play). The first time is before the cards have been dealt, and that cut is offered to the player on the right of the dealer. The second time is when the deck is cut for the starter card after the players have discarded to the crib. The deck is offered to the player on the dealer's left. In a two-player match, they are obviously the same person cutting both times. It should be noted that, at least in tournament play, the deck must be cut and it must leave at least four cards from either the top or bottom of the deck. for further information.

Starter Card

The player to the left of the dealer cuts the deck for the starter card that is exposed for later counting of the hands.

Starter Card

The "Starter Card", aka the community cut card is cut by the player to the dealer's left. Whether you play with two, three or four people, the cut before the hand is dealt is done by the player to the dealer's right, and the starter card cut by the player on their left.


In a recent close game my opponent picked up my crib, counted it and put it back in the stack of cards. I can not find a rule that states he can't touch my cards, where can I find the rule that applies.

Pone took the crib


Rule 9.4. Mixing Hand With Other Cards

a. If a player mixes his or her hand with the crib or pack before it is counted and pegged and before the opponent confirms the count (see Rule 9.2), the player forfeits the count of the hand.

b. If the crib is involved and the dealer mixes the crib with the pack, the dealer forfeits the crib count.

c. If the pone mixes the crib with the pack, the pone is penalized two points and the dealer is permitted to retrieve the crib and peg its value. If there is disagreement on the cards, summon judges.

The judges shall assist in the reconstruction of the hands in an attempt to determine which cards were placed in the crib.
The cards that the players recall shall be retrieved. If a full crib cannot be recalled, a judge shall shuffle the remaining pack and from the top add the number of cards required to constitute a full crib.

How to score a "go" when playing 4 person cribbage

How do you score the "go" if you're playing four person cribbage if you're paying teams? If each player can't play their cards does it just continue to go around and each person pegging 1 point until it lands with the player who originally played the last card to restart play? I hope I'm not confusing with my explanation. Thanks for the help.

The person who plays the last

The person who plays the last card scores the 'go', so if you play a card bringing the total to 30, play continues with everyone saying go, if it gets back to you then you score 1 for the last card, if you were to bring the total to 29, player to your left cannot play, neither can your opposite, but the player to your right brings the total to 30, he will then call go, you will get no points unless you can bring the total now to 31, basically the player who puts down the last card, assuming he doesnt hit 31, will get 1 point for the 'go'.

hope this clears things up.

when do you change

when do you change dealers?

Changing dealers

You will change dealers after the crib has been counted by the dealer and scored and the cards then turned over to the opponent. (pone)


Could you like possible score ten if you have the following cards?


I think you can but I am not totally sure on this. I think you can by:







please help!

There is a way

the A-2-3-4 would only be four points. However, if any of those cards are cut, you would get t double run of 4 for 10. I will demonstrate, let's say the cut card is a 2.

A-2 (hand)-3-4 = 4 pts.
A-2 (Cut)-3-4 = 4 pts.
2 (hand)-2 (cut) = 2 pts.
Total = 10 pts.

skunks in 3 player games

If you were playing for match points in a 3 player game, how do you handle skunks? Example: the final scores are 121, 110 and 85. Should skunks be removed from scoring? Should match play be avoided and just play single off games?

skunks in 3 player games

If you were playing for match points in a 3 player game, how do you handle skunks? Example: the final scores are 121, 110 and 85. Should skunks be removed from scoring? Should match play be avoided and just play single off games?

skunks in 3 player games

If you were playing for match points in a 3 player game, how do you handle skunks? Example: the final scores are 121, 110 and 85. Should skunks be removed from scoring? Should match play be avoided and just play single off games?

skunks in 3 player games

If you were playing for match points in a 3 player game, how do you handle skunks? Example: the final scores are 121, 110 and 85. Should skunks be removed from scoring? Should match play be avoided and just play single off games with 3 players?

Skunks in 3-person game

Assuming that the players are all playing to 121 (yes, there is a variation where only one player plays to 61 and the other two to 121 as partners), then the skunk line (90 points) would still be in effect. Assuming the scoring of your game, you would win one game against the player with 110 points and one and a half (or two) games against the player scoring 85 points.


How would you score this hand? Is it only 8 or can I mix the combination of 2's for a total point count of 12?

Only 8

It is scored only 8 points. Since you have used all 5 cards at once to make only one 15, you cannot mix or rearrange them anymore. 15-2, and 3-of-a-kind for 6 equals 8.