Facts about cribbage

Facts about cribbage.

  • The origins of cribbage are uncertain, but the game dates back almost five hundred years.

  • The rules of cribbage are simple to learn, but can take a lifetime to master!

  • The highest possible hand in cribbage is 29, the perfect cribbage hand.

  • There are several 'impossible totals' - point counts which cannot be made with any hand. The lowest such total is 19 - hence the expression 'a nineteen hand', or 'I have nineteen', almost universally (perhaps sarcastically) used to describe a zero-point hand.

  • Cribbage has given the English language a number of expressions which it is hard to imagine doing without, including "level pegging", "what a turn-up/a turn-up for the books", "streets ahead", and "pegged out".

  • The fact that the crib alternates with the deal means that on average, the lead should also change hands with each deal - which means it ain't over till it's over!

  • The biggest possible improvement in your score from the cut is 20 points, when you hold 4-4-6-6 and cut a 5.

  • The first dealer in a game wins 55% to 60% of the time.

The distribution of cribbage hands

What is the most common point value of a cribbage hand? What is the average point value?

The MathWorld Cribbage page has a graph showing the frequency of different hand values in cribbage. This shows that the most frequent point value, ignoring the skew effect of the discard, is 4 (closely followed by 2).

Most common cribbage hands

Points Probability
4 0.2212
2 0.2188
6 0.1375
8 0.0860
0 0.0788

The average point value of a hand is 4.7249. Of course, in real play scores will be slightly higher because of the discard, but the distribution will be similar.

The 5-scores-2 conjecture

Does any hand containing a 5 score at least two points? The answer is yes. This question is addressed in detail here, complete with computer programs in Perl to generate all possible such hands and verify the conjecture:

4 and a ace in your crib

u cannot name 5 cards that do not total 15 or a pair. u r gauranteed points in ur crib when u toss and 4 and a ACE


Could you please tell me the total score of
a 4, two 5s, and two 6s in.


The Count

24 points! - 8 points for 15's; 4 points for two pairs; and 12 points for a quadruple 3-card run.


it's 24!


What is the Point value for 3-3-4-5-5?

345 3 points 345 3

345 3 points
345 3 points
345 3 points
345 3 points
3-3 2 points
5-5 2 points
3+3+4+5 = 15 2 points
3+3+4+5 = 15 2 points
that is a total of 20 points

is it possible for the dealer

is it possible for the dealer to peg zero?

Yes, it is possible and

Yes, it is possible and happened recently at an ACC cribbage tournament.It happened because the dealer threw 3 cards into the crib and thus did not get the normal guaranteed last card peg. He also made his crib void since it had too many cards in it. to top it all he didn't have any points in his hand and after all was said and done he didn't get out of the starting hole. If he hadn't made the discarding error he could have gotten at least one point out of the deal.

A 2nd way the dealer does not score a point during play.

Another way the dealer will not peg a point is when he discards only 1 card to the crib. For holding too many cards, the penalty is that the dealer does not score any points during play and the dealer's hand is dead for counting.

19 crib

also referred to as a "Steely Dan" crib for their hit song, "Hey Nineteen"

Maybe this is too obvious,

Maybe this is too obvious, but another possible way the dealer can peg zero is in an end game situation where the pone pegs out before the dealer can peg any points.

Points per hand?

What are you averaging?

I taught a friend how to play, and we have been keeping track of our hands. We are both averaging 11 points a hand and have played a few 7 hand games. No 6 hand games yet.

Where is 'good'?
Where is 'improve'?

What are you averaging?

Re: Points per hand?

This is not total score per deal, but just the points you get from scoring one hand - 4 cards plus the upcard - for combinations (2 for each 15, 2 for each pair, 1 point per card for a run or 4-5 card flush, 1 for the jack of the upcard suit). It doesn't include points pegged during the count to 31 or the dealer's crib (which is a whole extra hand to score), so your actual score for the deal will average higher.

It's also not a statistical sample but the average score over every possible cribbage hand.