The Most Important Cribbage Rules You Should Know

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Are you looking for a simple card game that you can learn in a matter of minutes? If so, you should consider playing Cribbage. Although you can easily learn the basic rules for playing Cribbage, it can seem to be a confusing game.

Once you develop an understanding of Cribbage, it won’t be long until you enjoy it as if you were a professional! But you might have to revise the rules a couple of times before you get to that stage.

For this reason, we list the most important things you need to know when playing this game.

Cribbage Card Game Preparation

Before you start playing Cribbage with 2 players or more, you must do certain preparations. One important element is the deck of standard playing cards, but avoid using jokers as Cribbage only needs 52 cards.

Besides this, you will also need a Cribbage board to track the scores during the game. Lastly, you need to find a player to join the game.

The players’ main objective in this game is to achieve a specific number of points. When a player scores 121 points, they are declared the immediate winner. Players can also play shorter Cribbage games by setting the winning score to 61 points.

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Dealing Cards

The game starts with one player cutting the deck of cards. One who cuts the lowest card is the first to deal. After a dealer is selected, each player receives six cards in a face-down manner.

The players must take two cards from their hands and place them on the table face-down. The dealer also repeats this process. The four face-down cards on the table are called a crib, which belongs to the dealer. However, the cards are not used or even exposed until after the cards are played.

Card Values and Cribbage Scoring

The cards have values similar to their numeric value. All the face cards have a value of 10, but Ace is considered one.

It means if you have a Queen and four, that becomes a total of 14. If you have another face card, the sum will become 24. You should always remember the card value to avoid losing the game.

In this playing Cribbage for dummies guide, we decided to list all the scoring terms and the relevant number of pegs to put on the board:

  • Two cards adding up to 15: 2 pegs (points)
  • Any pair (like 55 or QQ): 2 pegs
  • Triplets or trips (i.e., KKK or 999): 6 pegs
  • Fours, also known as double pairs: 12 pegs
  • Runs or sequences (cards arranged by ranks regardless of suits, i.e., 7, 8, 9 or 4, 5, 6, 7). The number of pegs is determined by the number of cards in a sequence, i.e., 3, 4, or 5
  • Flushes: four cards of the same suit are 4 pegs, and five cards are 5 pegs
  • Nobs: having a Jack of the same suit as the starter card: 1 peg
  • Playing the last card: 1 peg
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Cribbage Card Game Tips and Strategy

Here are some tricks of playing Cribbage you should know:

  • When playing Cribbage, you should practice the game daily to develop the ability to add cards and call them correctly.
  • You can combine fives with tens to make 15. It’s important to avoid discarding fives during the game as you might give easy points to your opponent.
  • Properly analyze your cards and then put two of them in the crib. Your decision can even change depending on whether or not you are a dealer. That’s because as the game proceeds, dealers can use cribs, but non-dealer cannot. As a non-dealer, you must
    • Avoid discarding 5’s
    • Avoid discarding consecutive cards to decrease the opponent’s opportunity to make runs
    • Avoid discarding any pairs
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Non-dealer mainly want to stop the dealer from making pegs. But as a dealer, you must set things up so you can use the crib later. Deciding what cards to keep and what to discard in the crib is not easy, but you can easily do it by following the tips:

  • If you have a hand containing connected cards and an unrelated pair (like 4 5 6 7 Q Q), you should always crib the pair.
  • If you can afford it, throw at least one 5 into the crib for some 15-point pegs.
  • Throwing a pair of 5s into the crib has a lot of potentials to result in a nice number of extra pegs.
  • Consecutive cards like 6, 7, or 7, 8 are good candidates for the crib as almost 30% of the deck will help you improve in some way (by creating runs or pairs).


You can learn the rules of playing Cribbage, but everything will only make sense once you actually start playing the game. The simple rules for playing Cribbage may seem complicated at first, but when you play a few games, you will know that it’s easy.

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