The 29 hand in cribbage

29: the perfect cribbage hand

The highest possible hand at Cribbage is 29 points (shown above). It comprises all four 5s and the Jack of nobs. It is extremely rare to score a 29 hand in cribbage. In tournament play there is usually a special award for a 29 hand, whether it be cash or merely glory.

How to score the 29 hand

Your 29 hand stories

We love to hear your stories about 29 hands or other interesting cribbage experiences! See the Your Stories page, or contact us with your own story.

What are the odds of getting a 29 hand in cribbage?

See the Odds of a 29 hand in cribbage page to find out the exact odds of scoring this perfect hand.

A 29 hand and a 28 in the same game

Adam Wigdahl writes:
I had a 29 hand yesterday (picture right). Two hands later my opponent had a 28. I ended up losing the game, and actually there was a chance I would have been skunked if I didn't have a 20 point hand towards the end of the game. Now what are the odds of a 28 and a 29 happening in the same game?
We put this question to Professor Plum, our wizened statistics guru. Professor Plum:

First we need to know the odds of a 28 hand. This is just the four 5s plus any ten-card (not the right Jack!), the odds of which are 1 in 15,028. We already know the odds of a 29 are 1 in 216,580. On average 20 hands are dealt in a game of cribbage, so the chances of both hands appearing in the same game are ( 20 / 15028 ) * ( 19 / 216580 ) = 0.000000117, or 1 in 8,565,169. So about 1 in 9 million is the answer.

Adam's own workings suggest that the likelihood of actually being able to score a 28 and a 29 (as opposed to being dealt them) is about 1 in 10 million (often the last hands of a game are not scored as one player has gone out). But how surprised should we be about such an occurrence?

If we consider only officially sanctioned tournament play in the United States, there is a tournament somewhere almost every day, so let us say 365 tournaments a year of about 30 games each. So we would expect to see about one 29 hand a year in tournament play. I don't have the actual figures, but that sounds about right.

But a 29 and the 28 in the same game are a thousand times as improbable, so we would expect this to occur in tournaments about once every 1,000 years.

It is impossible to know how many games of cribbage are played every day, between friends and families and pubgoers. But there must be thousands of times as many unofficial games as there are tournament games. So we could estimate that a 29+28 combination occurs somewhere in the world maybe about once a year.

A 149 game

Shawn Salo writes:
My dad's friend was playing partners cribbage, they ended up on the 120th hole and the first person to count had a 29 hand and was able to count it. I looked online but couldn't find anything on the odds of scoring a 149 game. This was done in league play a few years back in Ishpeming, Michigan. I was curious on the odds of this. It must be super rare.
I never heard of it happening before, but perhaps you have? Let us know!

29 hand in 3 hand crib

My daughter got s 29 hand in 3 hand crib. Since you are only dealt 5 cards the probability would be even less than 2 hand crib. Can your actuary calculate the odds?

Re: 29 hand in 3 hand crib

I think the odds are the same, since the extra card is thrown away. But I'm prepared to be corrected! In any case a 29 hand is stupendously unlikely (about the same odds as being killed by a meteorite), so congratulations to your daughter!

Re: 29 hand in 3 hand crib

No the odds are a bit tougher in a 3-handed game since you only have 5 cards to choose the requisite 4 cards from instead of 6 cards.

I started going through the math to prove this, but then realized that it's already been done here:

http://www.cribbageforum.com/Mailbag1.htm

Re: 29 hand in 3 hand crib

Thanks Lance, I wasn't thinking very clearly. More coffee needed!

I've updated the main Odds of a 29 hand in cribbage page to include this question and answer.

Re: 29 hand in 3 hand crib

...obviously I should have asked Professor Plum instead of trying to work it out myself.

29 a perfect hand

On 3/10/2010 I was playing with 6-players,2-3 man teams.They deal 5-cards
to each team member and 4-cards to apposing team.The extra card for crib comes
from top of deck.They delt me 555J and the cut was 5 in the suit of my jack!
My question is what are the odds of this perfect hand?

Odds of a 29 hand

If you do a google search for the odds of getting a 29 hand you will see that in a 2 player game the odds are 1 in 216,580. The odds of getting a 29 in a 3 or 4 player (or six player for that matter) is 1 in 649,740. Congratulations on acheiving it!! I just got one myself while playing partners in a league I was in at the Elk's lodge. The gentleman who runs the league said it was the first one he had ever seen and he has run the league for like 60 years. I am happy with that distinction.

Keep pegging,

Brian

Same hand

I was playing a game with a friend and we ended up having the exact same hand! What are the odds? Actually, we had 5 of the 6 cards dealt the same (i.e. 4,5,6,7,8,9 & 3,5,6,7,8,9), but we discarded the odd one and were both left with 5,6,7,8. What are the probability of that happening?

Thanks,
Cal

Cal, You (and your opponent)

Cal, You (and your opponent) should have kept the 6,7,8,9. because the hand you kept scores 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and a run for 4 (5,6,7,8) for a total of 6 points without counting the up-turn card. Had you kept the 6,7,8,9 you would have 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and another 15 for 2 (6 plus 9) and run of 4 (6,7,8,9) for a total of 8 points. Who cares what the odds are. I will tell you the odds of two people both discarding the wrong cards are a hell of alot better than both people keeping the same thing. but one will say, well, the odds of flipping up a 10 point card on the up-turn are greater which would give me another 15(10 plus the 5 in your original hand) no shit, there are more 10 point cards in the deck genious. but by keeping the hand you should have a ten would give you 6,7,8,9,10 for five and 15 for two and another fifteen for four for a total of nine. your hand would have been 5,6,7,8,10 which is 15 for two and another 15 15 for four and four for the strait for a total of eight. any other 10 pointer would have gave you 8. so not only did you short yourself 1 or 2 points, you shorted yourself, or your partner, better odds of getting one of many 10 pointers left of possibly a five on the upturn which would also be nine. think further, the crib hand would have 4,5,3,5 with a five or a ten as the upturn you would have screwed that up too. a five showing up you would have 15 for 2, trips for another 6, 3 straits for another 9. thats another 17 points you may have wasted. or if a ten pointer showed up the crib hand would be 4,5,3,5 ?=10 for a total of fifteen for 2 another fifteen for 2 more, two straits for 6 more for a total of 10 plus possibly the nibs for 11 total.

Cal, You (and your opponent)

Cal, You (and your opponent) should have kept the 6,7,8,9. because the hand you kept scores 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and a run for 4 (5,6,7,8) for a total of 6 points without counting the up-turn card. Had you kept the 6,7,8,9 you would have 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and another 15 for 2 (6 plus 9) and run of 4 (6,7,8,9) for a total of 8 points. Who cares what the odds are. I will tell you the odds of two people both discarding the wrong cards are a hell of alot better than both people keeping the same thing. but one will say, well, the odds of flipping up a 10 point card on the up-turn are greater which would give me another 15(10 plus the 5 in your original hand) no shit, there are more 10 point cards in the deck genious. but by keeping the hand you should have a ten would give you 6,7,8,9,10 for five and 15 for two and another fifteen for four for a total of nine. your hand would have been 5,6,7,8,10 which is 15 for two and another 15 15 for four and four for the strait for a total of eight. any other 10 pointer would have gave you 8. so not only did you short yourself 1 or 2 points, you shorted yourself, or your partner, better odds of getting one of many 10 pointers left of possibly a five on the upturn which would also be nine. think further, the crib hand would have 4,5,3,5 with a five or a ten as the upturn you would have screwed that up too. a five showing up you would have 15 for 2, trips for another 6, 3 straits for another 9. thats another 17 points you may have wasted. or if a ten pointer showed up the crib hand would be 4,5,3,5 ?=10 for a total of fifteen for 2 another fifteen for 2 more, two straits for 6 more for a total of 10 plus possibly the nibs for 11 total.

Cal, You (and your opponent)

Cal, You (and your opponent) should have kept the 6,7,8,9. because the hand you kept scores 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and a run for 4 (5,6,7,8) for a total of 6 points without counting the up-turn card. Had you kept the 6,7,8,9 you would have 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and another 15 for 2 (6 plus 9) and run of 4 (6,7,8,9) for a total of 8 points. Who cares what the odds are. I will tell you the odds of two people both discarding the wrong cards are a hell of alot better than both people keeping the same thing. but one will say, well, the odds of flipping up a 10 point card on the up-turn are greater which would give me another 15(10 plus the 5 in your original hand) no shit, there are more 10 point cards in the deck genious. but by keeping the hand you should have a ten would give you 6,7,8,9,10 for five and 15 for two and another fifteen for four for a total of nine. your hand would have been 5,6,7,8,10 which is 15 for two and another 15 15 for four and four for the strait for a total of eight. any other 10 pointer would have gave you 8. so not only did you short yourself 1 or 2 points, you shorted yourself, or your partner, better odds of getting one of many 10 pointers left of possibly a five on the upturn which would also be nine. think further, the crib hand would have 4,5,3,5 with a five or a ten as the upturn you would have screwed that up too. a five showing up you would have 15 for 2, trips for another 6, 3 straits for another 9. thats another 17 points you may have wasted. or if a ten pointer showed up the crib hand would be 4,5,3,5 ?=10 for a total of fifteen for 2 another fifteen for 2 more, two straits for 6 more for a total of 10 plus possibly the nibs for 11 total.

Same hand

You (and your opponent)should have kept the 6,7,8,9. because the hand you kept scores 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and a run for 4 (5,6,7,8) for a total of 6 points without counting the up-turn card. Had you kept the 6,7,8,9 you would have 15 for 2 (7 plus 8) and another 15 for 2 (6 plus 9) and run of 4 (6,7,8,9) for a total of 8 points. Who cares what the odds are. I will tell you the odds of two people both discarding the wrong cards are a hell of alot better than both people keeping the same thing. but one will say, well, the odds of flipping up a 10 point card on the up-turn are greater which would give me another 15(10 plus the 5 in your original hand) no shit, there are more 10 point cards in the deck genious. but by keeping the hand you should have a ten would give you 6,7,8,9,10 for five and 15 for two and another fifteen for four for a total of nine. your hand would have been 5,6,7,8,10 which is 15 for two and another 15 15 for four and four for the strait for a total of eight. any other 10 pointer would have gave you 8. so not only did you short yourself 1 or 2 points, you shorted yourself, or your partner, better odds of getting one of many 10 pointers left of possibly a five on the upturn which would also be nine. think further, the crib hand would have 4,5,3,5 with a five or a ten as the upturn you would have screwed that up too. a five showing up you would have 15 for 2, trips for another 6, 3 straits for another 9. thats another 17 points you may have wasted. or if a ten pointer showed up the crib hand would be 4,5,3,5 ?=10 for a total of fifteen for 2 another fifteen for 2 more, two straits for 6 more for a total of 10 plus possibly the nibs for 11 total.

Why isn't max possible score 30 not 29?

If I'm the dealer and am dealt a jack then I get two points...so why wouldn't the best possible hand be four fives in my hand and a jack turned up when I'm dealer...that's worth 30 which is way better than 29! Everybody wishes they get a 29 hand...I'd prefer 28 hand plus the 2 for his heels (which I consider a 30 hand). I see how this would prevent me from getting a 149 game so that's the only downside I see. Jake

Other things to consider

Jake, you may have ultimately moved your pegs 30 points, but your hand was only worth 28. I have pegged a lot of points off of hands that were worth zero, but that didn't mean that the hand was worth more than zero when I counted it even though the pegs moved during the play. Taking the 2 points for heels is not part of scoring your hand, because your opponent could go out before you(because they score their hands before the dealer) and you might never even get to count your hand. I have no idea what a 149 game is. Maybe you could explain?