How to Play Cribbage
Number of Players
Cribbage, as set up on SafeHarborGames(SHG) is a two player game, played with a standard deck of 52 cards, with King high, and Ace low.
Cribbage Board, Pegging and Scores
On a live board, score is kept on a cribbage board with two pegs for each players. One peg shows the current score for the player, and the other shows the previous score. In the SHG version, we show the cribbage board with the pegs denoting the proper scores, but we also show the scores next to the Player's nicks at the top and bottom, respectively.
Board Layout
The red color always indicates the player sitting on the left or host seat, and green indicates the player on the right. Match Scores for the players appear at the top left and right. Game options appear at the bottom, left and right. The cribbage board is shown on the right side of the table.
Cribbage Play
A hand of Cribbage includes three stages :
  • Preliminaries - the deal, discard to crib, and the start card.
  • The Play of the cards and scoring
  • The Show and scoring
The Deal
The players each draw a card from the deck (Cut Cards). The player with the lowest card is the dealer. The dealer shuffles, deals six cards to each player, and sets aside the deck.
Discard to Crib, and the Start Card
Before play begins, each player discards two cards into the crib. The crib belongs to the dealer, and will count towards their score during the "Show" phase. After the crib is established, the start card is drawn by the dealer. If the start card is a Jack, the dealer immediately gets 2 points for a "Two for his heels". This will count towards the scoring during the Show phase as well.
The Play of the cards
The play of the cards may take several rounds. In turn, each player lays down a card face up on the table. The total value of the cards cannot exceed 31. The value of the cards are :

Numbered cardsEqual the number on the face
AcesEquals 1
Face cards (jack, queen, king)Equals 10

In addition, certain combinations of sequential cards earn additional points by the player who lays down the completing card. If a player's turn comes and they are unable to play a card that will keep the the point total under 31, they pass ("Go"). Once both players pass, or one player lays down a card that then totals the cards to 31, the hand is over. If either player still has cards, they start a new round, and repeat till they both run out of cards.
Scoring during the Play
PlayPoint Value
15 - Playing a card that brings the cumulative point total to exactly 152
Pair - Playing a card of the same rank as the last card played2
Pair Royal - Playing a card of the same rank as the last two cards played6
Double Pair Royal - Player a card of the same rank as the last three cards played12
Runs - adding a card that when combined sequentially with two or more of the last cards played creates a run. 1 per card
31 - adding a card that brings the total of the cards played to exactly 31 points2
Last Card - The player that plays the last card of the round or hand, without matching 31 points.1
The Show
Two Player
During the show, the cards of the non-dealer, dealer, and then the crib are scored base on the various combination of cards they have. The non-dealer cards are scored first, then the dealer's, and then the crib, which gets added to the dealer's score. Note that at any time, either during play, or show, one player's score reaches or passes the point length, the game is over. No further scoring occurs.
Four Player
During the show, the Player following the dealer is first to count his hand; if the winning score has not been reached, then ...
The dealer's partner counts his hand next ; if the winning score has not been reached again... then
The opponent's partner counts his hand; if the winning score still has not been reached... then
The dealer counts his hand; if the winning score has not been reached... then
The dealer's crib is counted last. After counting all 5 hands you continue playing until the winning score has been reached.
Scoring during the Show
Combination Point Value
Nobs - A jack of the same suit as the Start card 1
15's - Any combination of any number of cards that adds up to 152
Pairs - Same as in the Scoring during the Play2, 6 or 12
Runs - Same as in the Scoring during the Play1 per card
4 Card Flush - Four original cards all the same suit. Does not count for the crib4
5 Card Flush - Four original cards and start card all the same suit. Crib counts as well5
Further Notes
Remember that scoring is immediate when earned. This helps enforce that the game is over when the first player reaches or surpasses the point length of the game. No further scores are tallied, so the game could be over during play, during the middle of show, or even when the start card is drawn, if it is a jack, and pushes the score over.
Tips
Discarding to the Crib
If you're the dealer, put two cards in the crib that will give you the greatest chance to score during the show. Strong discards include Fifteen-two's, Pairs, fives, mini-fives (two cards that add up to 5), consecutive cards, Jacks. With a disproportinate number of "10" cards, play to complete a fifteen. If you are the non-dealer, then avoid contributing the above cards. Instead, play cards that strengthen your own hand. For instance, if you make a flush by getting rid of two cards, then discard them.
Play
If leading, start with a four or lower. This increases the odds of you being the one to complete a fifteen. If you can't try playing into a run or royal pair. If you have a 6-7, lead with a 7 to encourage your opponent to play the 8 for fifteen, then play your 6 for a run.
If not leading, play defensively. If you can't make 15, play a card to go over 15 so your opponent can't get the points. Hold on to low cards, since this increases the odds of you playing last card, or making 31.
Glossary
  • Count
    The running total of cards played to table; the number of points earned / scored during play; also, to determine the value of a hand or crib.
  • Crib
    The extra hand, scored for the dealer, formed by the players' discards.
  • Discard
    A card removed from a player's hand and used to form the crib.
  • Double run
    A run in which one of the cards is also paired; if the sequence is three cards long, it's called a double run of 8 (worth 8 points in all: 2 for the pair and 3 for each of the two different runs of three that can be formed); if the sequence is four cards long, it's a double run of 10 (2 for the pair and 4 for each of the two distinct runs).
  • "Double Skunk"
    To win by scoring 121 points when the opponent has not yet scored 61 points. Counts as a quadruple "game win" (as 4 games in the match being played).
  • Feed the crib
    To place good cards into the crib.
  • Fifteen
    A set of two or more cards whose values add up to fifteen, worth two points in either the pegging or scoring phase.
  • Flush
    A hand in which all four cards are the same suit, worth 4 points; or a hand in which all four cards plus the starter card are the same suit, worth 5 points. Only a five-point flush counts when scoring the crib.
  • "Go"
    A statement made during the pegging phase by a player who cannot play another card without making the total greater than 31.
  • Go out
    Win the game by reaching the point goal (usually 121 points).
  • His "heel"
    A Jack "starter" card, worth 2 points to the dealer.
  • Kitty
    Another word for the Crib.
  • Leg
    A player's series of holes along a Cribbage Board, usually 30 holes long on a 60-hole board.
  • "Lurch"
    Another word for skunk, commonly used in a game to 61 points when opponent has not reached 31 points.
  • "Muggings"
    Points claimed by / awarded to a Player due to Opponent's error in counting or pegging.
  • "Nineteen (points)"
    A hand worth Zero (0); the expression arises because it is impossible to construct a cribbage hand worth 19 points.
  • "Knobs" (also called his "Nibs")
    A jack of the same suit as the starter card, worth one point in counting the hand.
  • Pegging
    The process of recording points earned / scored by moving 'pegs' on the Cribbage Board.
  • Quadruple run
    A run of three in which two of the cards are also paired, worth 16 points (2 for each pair and 3 for each of the four different runs of three that can be formed).
  • Run
    A sequence of three or more cards of successive ranks; a run of three has three cards in sequence and is worth 3 points, a run of four has four cards in sequence and is worth 4 points, etc. (theoretically, a run of seven can be formed during the pegging phase with an ace through seven; the maximum length of a run in a hand, of course, is five.)
  • "Skunk"
    To win by scoring 121 points when the opponent has yet to score 91 points. Counts as a double "game win" (as 2 games in the match being played). See also "Double Skunk".
  • Starter
    The turned-up card, cut from the deck; not used or counted in the "playing" phase of the game.
  • Street
    Another word for "leg", a player's series of holes, for maintaining scores, on a Cribbage Board.
  • Triple run
    A run of three in which one of the cards is part of three of a kind, worth 15 points (6 for the three of a kind and 3 for each of the three different runs of three that can be formed).
  • Twenty-nine (a "29")
    The highest possible hand in Cribbage, consisting of four fives and a jack in which the Jack is his "Knobs". Player holds three Fives and the Jack of the same suit as the Five that is the "starter" card. Any other Jack or any Tender card would result in a twenty-eight (28) count.

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