Cribbage rules - the discard

(Previous section: Cribbage rules - the basics)

Following the cut, each player throws away two cards from his hand into the 'crib' or 'box' - a third hand that is scored by the dealer. The rules of cribbage differ in this respect from its predecessor, Noddy (see the cribbage origins page for more details). This phase of cribbage is called the discard. Since the crib scores points for its owner, your choice of discard will generally be different depending on whether the crib is yours or your opponent's. However, you must throw two cards; it is against the rules to discard none or only one.

It is no exaggeration to say that the discard is the part of cribbage where skill and knowledge has the greatest effect on the outcome of the game. Whole books can be, and have been written, on the art of cribbage discards. A great site to practice your discards is The Daily Cribbage Hand, which has a sample hand for you to consider and then compare your choice of discard against other users, and discuss the different choices.

There are rules of thumb about the discard, and you can find some of these on the Discards section of Cribbage Corner. However, the choice of cards to throw is entirely free and not mandated by the cribbage rules.

Continue to Cribbage rules - the turn-up.

The cut

Who gets the cut in three or four handed Cribbage? Is it the person in front of the dealer or the person behind?

Re: The cut

In three, four, or more-handed cribbage, pone is the player to the dealer's left (and pone makes the cut).

Order of Game

You start this page with "Following the turn-up, each player throws away two cards..." However, the next page says "The game then begins with the dealer turning up the top card..." So, which comes first, the discard or the turn-up?

Re: Order of Game

You are quite right - that was a mistake, and should have read "Following the cut...". The discard comes first because part of the strategy in discarding is working out what the turn-up card is likely to be, and keeping cards accordingly.


If you discard the wrong card, by mistake, and assuming nobody has made their discard, can you pick up your discarded card/s and re-discard?

It depends

Best question on this site for a long time! The answer to your question about making an error in discarding to the crib, is that it depends. There is really only one circumstance when you can pick your cards back up after laying them down and that is if you have discarded onto the wrong side of the board by mistake and no other cards have been mixed with your cards, then you are allowed to pick up your cards, reevaluate and discard correctly to the correct crib. Any other changes after the cards have left your fingers is illegal and subject to penalties. Here is the breakdown from Rule 5.1 from (Note that this does not include discarding too many cards (3 or 4) into the crib)

a. The crib belongs to the dealer and shall be placed with cards face down on the dealer's side of the board.

b. Cards placed face down on the table for the crib and released by the fingers, except for the situation in Rule 4.4.a.(1) or 5.1.c, may not be retrieved and examined. The penalty is two points. If the two cards were not mixed with the hand, those two cards must be returned to the crib. See rule 5.2 if the discard was mixed with the hand.

c. Prior to the turn of the starter card, if only one player discards to the wrong side of the board, that player is permitted to retrieve the card(s) and reevaluate the selection.

d. If all four cards are discovered to be on the pone’s side, they shall be moved to the dealer's side, without exposure, unless the starter card has been turned and each player has played at least one card. In that event, the crib becomes the property of the player on whose side it lies and the other player becomes the pone and next dealer in that game.