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.
Your 29 hand stories
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! Comment Below!