(Previous section: Cribbage rules - the discard)
The game of cribbage then begins with the dealer turning up the top card on the remaining pile after the cards have been dealt to each player. This card is called the turn-up or starter. If the turn-up card is a Jack, the dealer immediately scores two points ("two for his heels").
Can you go out on a Jack?
One of the most frequently-asked questions on the Cribbage Corner Forum is "If I am in the stinkhole, can I peg out on a Jack?" In other words, if you only need one point to win, and you turn up a Jack, do you score two for his heels and win?
The answer is yes - unless the players agree otherwise. Official rules say that there is no restriction on scoring "two for his heels" or Go, but a commonly-used optional rule prevents this. You can add this to your house rules if you want.
Al & Carol Turriff emailed to ask:
You're in the stink hole. Can you cut a Jack and then go out? I say yes you can. Is this correct?
Under normal circumstances, if the dealer turns up a Jack as the starter card, she scores 'two for his heels'. The official ACC cribbage tournament rules specifically say that this score still counts even if the dealer would peg out and win the game as a result:
Rule 6.3. Scoring When The Starter Card Is a Jack (His Heels)
a. When a Jack is turned up, the dealer is entitled to two points.
b. The dealer may peg out into the game hole by turning a Jack starter card.
However, some people like to play a local rule that you are not allowed to score 'his heels' (and sometimes 'go') if you are in the stinkhole (the 120th hole, one short of game). Sometimes this also applies if you need 5 or fewer points to win. There is nothing to stop you playing this rule if you want, so long as all players agree it beforehand.