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 help@cribbagecorner.com 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 help@cribbagecorner.com and our busy team of cribbage experts will do their best to help! You could also ask your question on the Cribbage Corner Forum.

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.

Scoring

OK, here goes. During a recent game, I ended up with a 6, both a 4 of clubs and spades, and an ace. The crib was a 5; although that's not really the issue.
My belief in counting is that I could utilize the 6 and 4 of clubs to total 10 then add the 4 of spades and ace to total 15. And then tally the 6 and 4 of spades to total 10 then add the 4 of clubs and ace to total 15 for a point combination of 4. My opponent believesn that I can only count the noted four card combination once, notwithstanding in what numerical order I utilize either of the 4's. Basically, is there one total 15 to count here or two? Please assist. Thanks.

Same cards = only once

As stated in some earlier posts, you can only use the same EXACT cards once in any combination to score points. Ignoring the five that you discussed, if you are only using the 6, 4, 4, A to score your hand you would have a 15-2 and a pair for a total of four points. You cannot rearrange the cards to take additional points, because you are just using the same exact cards as your original scoring. Hope that helps and keep pegging!

Peggings with aces

Ive heard a couple different things about pegging with aces.
I've always known, ace =1 no matter what, but I have also heard that an ace can be counted as an 11. Some have said that it only counts while pegging, but some have said that it counts in your hand as well...

Example: while pegging if your opponent plays a 4, you can play an ace, treating it as an 11, and score a 15 and you would count from there.

Example: if you have a 4 and an ace in your hand, you can count those two as a 15.
while playing this way there has also been a dispute about switching back and fourth between counting the ace as 1 then 11.

Example:
Ur hand has an ace, 4, 10, 6 and an 8 on the draw. Whether you can count it like
1+4= 15 (with the ace being 11)
And 6+ace+8=15 (counting the ace as 1)

If the ace can be counted as an 11 in your hand, do you have to treat it as an 11 the entire time your counting? Or can u use it as both to add up to different combinations?

I hope my questions make sense and some one can help me out! If clarification is needed, let me know on what and I'll try!

Thanks!

Never Eleven

Nicole, in cribbage, the Ace ALWAYS is counted as the lowest card and equals one. It is never eleven. The official rules can be viewed at www.cribbage.org

Keep Pegging!

skunk and double skunk lines

In a two person game, the winner has 121 the loser has either 59 or 89 pts. My father started teaching me when I started school and I have played every since lam 68yrs. This is very good math game for me helping my grandchildren. Thank you

Keep Pegging

Keep pegging Gene! Most people learn the game from a family member and it is a great way to teach and stay connected. There are many clubs popping up all over the country and into Canada as well. Look into one for you and your family.

help to count up hand

what would the points be for a 10,10,10,9,8? we scored it as 24

Count it as 15

The hand 10, 10, 10, 9, 8 is a 15 point hand. You have three runs of 3 points (8-9-10) and six points for the three tens for a total of 15 points.

10-10-10-9-8 = 15 This is a

10-10-10-9-8 = 15
This is a tripple run = 9
3 tens = 6 = totoal = for hand = 15 points

Counting/Scoring

When the dealer is counting his/her hand, can he just add the points he receives from his/her hand to the points he/she earns in the crib and just make one move? In other words, since the outcome, or number of points, are the same, are separate moves required for the dealer's hand and the crib?

Counting the hand(s)

Great question, the answer depends on whether you are just playing for fun or by the rules. By the rules, you count each hand separately and then move your pegs after each score. The reason for this is that your opponent needs to be able to review the scoring on each of the hands so that a claim for a miscount can be made if one has been committed. It also verifies that you have moved your pegs into the correct holes after each score. Combining hand scores would not allow that. Stick to scoring each hand individually and then peg them separately.

Combinations

How many 15's can you get from 3 7's and an ace?

Since it takes two sevens and

Since it takes two sevens and an ace to make fifteen, you can get three of them. Just like you get three pairs with 3 sevens.

you can get 3, 7a, 7b, A 7a,

you can get 3,

7a, 7b, A
7a, 7c, A
7b, 7c, A

It works the same way as a prial.

A Prial

Ben, I believe a prial is a pairs royal (or 3 of a kind). That is different than scoring 3 sets of 15. You can have a prial and never have a 15 in your hand.

The hard setting is ridiculous

It is just stupid that the way Hoyle makes the game "hard" is that it gives the computer player great hands almost every time. I just played a game where the computer started with 17, 21, 16, 18 and then the tiny 12. It wasn't even unusual that the computer would have such hands. It does make pegging a little easier because after the first card you start to know what they have already.

help settle points. please

8 of hearts is the flip card. In the hand is 2 of hearts, 2 of spades, 3 of diamonds, and 6 of clubs. My friend says he has 6 points I say he has 4 points. Who is right?

cribbage points

8h,2h,2s,3d,6c= 2+2+3=15-2points and 2+2-for a pair=2points....4 points total in that hand for after play count

Last card on 31

If you play last card which makes 31, do you get 2 or 3 points?

land on 31 exactly

is 2 points.

Cribbage counting rule

When counting for the first phase of all four of the cards in your hand plus the turnup card equal less than 21 do you score points for that

Huh?

Sandyy, I'm really not sure what you are asking here...but I suspect the answer is no. This is not like blackjack where in some games being under a score gets you points. Please clarify or give me an example.

Turns End

Hi there!

Hope you can help end a dispute between my husband and I... the out come of tonight's game depends on it! When counting one's hand, when does the turn officially end? If a person has counted, moved their peg completely, and then see two more points that the other person had not called, can they then call those points even though they have finished moving their peg? Thanks for your help!

Turn Ends

The turn of any action for any player is when the player takes his finger off of the peg and/or card. Until that point, they can adjust their score. Once the finger comes off, they can no longer adjust their score, unless they have over-scored at which point, they need to move backwards to what their proper score should have been and the pone gets to take the amount of over-score. Under scores are not treated this way unless you are playing Muggins.

Turns End

We called this "Muggins" where I grew up learning to play. Simply, if you miss points when counting, your opponent has the ability to call you out on those missed points and claim them as their own. Counting order of the hand, after playing the hand, is important in this regard (at least as we play it). The person first dealt to counts first. Muggins must be declared after they have declared their hand's score and moved their peg, and cannot be claimed once the next hand is counted. For instance, in a two player game, if I'm the dealer, my opponent counts their hand first. Once they count their hand and move their peg, it's up to me to catch any unclaimed points BEFORE I elect to count and peg my hand. They get a window to claim Muggins on my hand count after I've pegged, but must claim it before I count and peg my crib, and also get an opportunity to claim Muggins if I miscount/peg my crib. I've found that helping people learn to count is far more enjoyable than screwing them out of points by claiming Muggins, but that's just my style... Hope this makes sense!

Muggins

Paul, Your description is accurate for Muggins. What I was referring to was taking too many points. That is not Muggins (scoring un-scored points), but someone who either 1. incorrectly over-scores their hand, or 2. Scores the hand correctly vocally, but they moves the peg(s) too many holes. Both of these are violations that require the violator to move their peg back to the correct hole and then the other player moves how many the over-score was. If my hand is 10 points, but I move my pegs 12 points, I have to move back to the 10 point and my opponent takes 2 points. That is not Muggins. That is just the rules and it can be enforced or not depending on the skill level of the players.

Properly Playing the Cards

When playing the cards (or pegging), do you stack your cards on top of each other so that you can not see the previous card played? Or do you place them so that you can see all of your previous plays?

Good Question

You have to expose your cards to your opponent. Both in pegging and in counting your hand. Hiding them is a violation of the rules.

Playing the cards

During pegging and exposing your cards while counting your hand, your cards and hand must be plainly seen by the opponent. What you have played during pegging may very well determine what you have remaining in your hand and a good opponent will use that information to plot their next move against you.