Cribbage rules - example hands

(Previous section: Cribbage rules part 6 - the scoring)

Cribbage scoring may seem confusing at first, but soon becomes easy. Some practice will be required to spot all the scores in a hand, especially the 15s. Look at these example hands:

Example Hand 1

[ 6 of clubs ] [ 10 of diamonds ] [ 5 of hearts ] [ 4 of spades] ... [ 5 of diamonds]

This is a complicated hand, so follow this standard counting procedure. First count the 15s. How many can you see?

Each of the 5s can make 15 with the 10 - that's 2 15s. Each of the 5s can also make 15 with the 6-4 - that's another 2 15s. That's 4 15s in total, making 8 points.

Now look for pairs. There is one pair of 5s, making a further 2 points - that's 10 in total.

Now look for runs. Each of the 5s can make a 4-5-6 run of 3 - that's 3 points per run, 6 points in all, and the hand total so far is 16.

Finally, look for flushes and 'nobs' - there are none. So the hand scores 16.

Example Hand 2

[ Jack of diamonds ] [ 3 of spades ] [ 3 of clubs ] [ 2 of spades ] ... [ Ace of diamonds ]

Remember, count 15s first, then pairs, then sequences, then flushes and nobs. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

Example Hand 3

[ 3 of hearts ] [ 3 of spades ] [ 4 of spades ] [ 4 of diamonds ] ... [ Ace of diamonds ]

It's easy to miss 2 of the points in this hand. Check your answer.

29 hand

This is the highest-scoring hand in cribbage. It is a useful exercise to understand where each of the 29 points comes from! (see answers).


Example Hand 2: 13 points. The J-2 makes 15 with both 3s, that's 4; a pair of 3s adds 2 to make 6; two runs A-2-3 add 6 to make 12; the Jack of nobs adds 1 point to make 13.

Example Hand 3: 6 points. The 3-3-4-4-A adds up to 15, that's 2; two pairs add 4 to make 6. Did you miss the 15?

29 Hand: 29 points. The J makes 15 with each of the 5s, that's 8; the 4 5s also make 15 four different ways, that's 16; double pair royal (four of a kind) adds 12 to make 28; the Jack of nobs makes 29. You will not find yourself called upon to count this hand very often.

Although the rules of cribbage are simple, the method of scoring takes a little practice to master. The article How to Count Cards in Cribbage details a little solitaire cribbage game you can play which will help you learn to score hands fast.

Continue to Cribbage rules part 8 - Muggins

Cribbage rules - the go

(Previous section: Cribbage rules - the play)

The cribbage rules for scoring 'go' sometimes cause confusion. You earn a point for go when your opponent cannot go. This may be (a) because he has no cards (sometimes called 'One for last'), or (b) because he cannot play without going over 31 ('One for the go'). In either case if you make the total 31 you score only 2 points on the cribbage board, not 3 (because the go is included, as described above). However, you may well make 15 with the last card (in which case you do score 3).

An example sequence of play showing the rules for pegging points by both players:

Alice (pone) plays a 4, for a total of 4, and says 'Four.'
Bob plays a 7, for a total of 11, and says 'Eleven'.
Alice plays another 4, for a total of 15, and says 'Fifteen for two.' [and pegs 2 points]
Bob plays a Jack, for a total of 25, and says 'Twenty-five'.
Alice cannot go, as any of her remaining cards would take the total over 31. She says 'go'.
Bob plays a 5, for a total of 30, and says 'Thirty, and one for the go' [and pegs 1 point]

The count now goes back to zero, and the play continues. Since Bob played the last card, Alice goes first now.

Alice plays a 7, for a total of 7, and says 'Seven'.
Bob plays an 8, for a total of 15, and says 'Fifteen for two.' [and pegs 2 points]
Alice plays a 9, for a total of 24, and says 'Twenty-four for three'. [and pegs 3 points for her run of 7-8-9]
Bob cannot go, as he has run out of cards. He therefore says 'Go', and Alice pegs a point for the go. She also has run out of cards and so the game proceeds to the next phase.

Another example:

Bob (pone) plays a 4, for a total of 4, and says 'Four.'
Alice plays another 4, for a total of 8, and says 'Eight for two.' [and pegs 2 points for the pair]
Bob plays a third 4, for a total of 12, and says 'Twelve for six.' [and pegs 6 points for the pair royal ]
Alice plays a 3, for a total of 15, and says 'Fifteen for two.' [and pegs 2 points]
Bob plays a 2, for a total of 17, and says 'Seventeen for three.' [and pegs 3 points for the run 4-3-2]
Alice plays a 5, for a total of 22, and says 'Twenty-two for four.' [and pegs 4 points for the run 5-4-3-2]]
Bob cannot go without going over 31, and so says 'Go'.
Alice plays a 9, for a total of 31, and says 'Thirty-one for two.' [and pegs 2 points. 'One for the go' is only scored when the scoring player does not make 31. ]

The count is now reset, and Bob plays first, as Alice played last.

Bob plays a Queen, for a total of 10, and says 'Ten.'
Alice cannot go, as she has run out of cards, and so says 'Go'. [ Bob pegs 1 point for the go. ]

For tips on how to make the most of the go, see the cribbage strategy section.

If you say 'Go' when you had a card you could legally play, this is a breach of the rules called a renege.

An optional rule that is sometimes played forbids a player from scoring a go when she is in the stinkhole (on 120 points). This is not part of the standard rules, however.

Continue to Cribbage rules - the scoring

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