29 hand

Odds of a 29 hand in cribbage

It is possible to work out the exact chances of getting a 29 hand in cribbage. Mathematician and stats expert David desJardins explains:

You need to be dealt three fives, the jack of the fourth suit, and two other cards neither of which is a five. The total number of such six-card hands is 4*(47*46/2) = 4324, out of (52*51*50*49*48*47/720) = 20358520 possible hands. Given this event, the probability of turning up the fourth five is 1/46. So the probability is:

4324 / 20358520 / 46 = 1 / 216580 (very roughly, 200,000 to 1)

Cribbage master Michael Schell elaborates on this argument, and the corresponding odds in the 3- and 4-handed games, in this Cribbage Forum article. He also notes:

The 1 in 216,580 figure jibes well with the actual incidence rate of 29 hands in sanctioned tournaments in North America. The ACC pays $100 for a 29 hand received in sanctioned play, and thus publishes a "Club 29" list each season. To be exact, the incidence is a tad lower than the odds predict, since the odds assume you keep an eligible hand (5-5-5-J) whenever you can. Since you wouldn't always want to do this (defending in an endgame for example), the actual occurrence of 29 hands among experts will be a bit less frequent than the mathematical calculation predicts.

Are the odds of a 29 hand the same in a 3-player cribbage game?

They are much longer. Michael Schell again has the complete proof, but the short answer is 1 in 649,740.

This is a result of only being dealt five cards, so there are much fewer "potential 29s" to choose from. The same odds apply to a four-handed game, or two-player five-card cribbage.

How many possible ways are there of making a 29 hand in cribbage?

The 29th point comes from the nob Jack, and since you have all four fives, any of the four Jacks will do. Thus there are four possible 29 hands in cribbage, with the Jack of each of the four suits being the turn up card.

Go to the main 29 hand page

Your 29 hand stories

Readers' stories of the 29 cribbage hands they've received.

Eric Wineburg

Eric writes:

It has been some time since the 29 point hand that I had, maybe 20 or 25 years ago but you really never forget it when it happens. The one thing that was unique about mine is that it was in the crib! My friend John always had the theory of keeping the most possible points. In his case I dealt him one of the eight and seven card double run combinations and a five and a Jack. So he tossed the five and the Jack into my crib. I would have probably done the same because it is a sweet hand to have and your odds are really good for a great hand.

Myself since it was my crib, I tried to work the hand for the most points but to give myself some possibilities in the crib. Don’t really remember what I had but what did have was two fives and no ten cards to match on, so I dished the fives into my crib.

John had the feeling that I had the 29er when he had cut and the five came up and he knew that he threw the same suit Jack. He then saw me perk up! The anticipation was great waiting until the hand was over to flip over the crib!

Highest possible score for Cribbage Squares?

I was wondering if anyone could help. Been playing Cribbage Squares for some time now - the solitaire city version on the iphone which firstly has reminded me how much I like cribbage again, but now being the competitive sort I want to see what the perfect hand would be. Obviously 29 for a single row but the highest I have managed for the squares version is (a quite respectable) 117. But the top score on the high scores is 141!! and to break into the top 50 you need 118! Think I need a different strategy and wondered if anyone has any ideas.

Scoring a 29 hand

Dennis writes:

Can you break down the count of 29 as it is supposed to be counted?  It seems you are not allowing the Jack to be counted with the 4 5's for another 8 points which would give 36 points.
Please help me with my confusion over this.
Kind Regards.


The 29 cribbage hand page does not explain how the score is broken down, so here goes!

We score the 29 hand in the same way as any other: taking 15s first, then pairs, runs, flushes and nobs.

First count 15s. The Jack makes 15 with each of the 5s, that's 4 15s. Also, there are 4 ways of choosing three different 5s to make additional 15s. That's 8 in total, for 16 points.

Then pairs: there are 6 different pairs of 5s, for another 12 points. That's 28 so far.

There are no runs or flushes, so the Jack of nobs gives us a final point for 29.

I hope this helps!

When to count a 29 hand?

Joan emailed with this question:

Would like to know the rules on if you have a 29 hand does it count as long you peg. But the other person goes out before you count it.also goes the same for any 24 or 28 hand.

If the other player goes out before you count your hand, then unfortunately, they win. In tournaments where there is a special prize for a 29 hand, I'm not sure whether you would still get the award even if you did not get to count your hand. If it were up to me I'd say yes!

Cribbage board

Cribbage boards have been used for hundreds of years, and the traditional design of the board probably predates the game itself. Similar boards have been used to score whist and other card games since before the origins of cribbage in the 1630s. A game scoring board with rows of holes which looks very like a modern cribbage board has even been found in the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Nowadays, antique cribbage boards can be valuable collector's items.

If you want to find out more about cribbage, we'll show you the rules, teach you the strategy you need to win, and even tell you how to organise your own tournaments. There are hundreds of questions being asked and answered on the Cribbage Corner Forum if there's anything that you want to ask about, or just settle an argument!

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.
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