How to play cribbage

The object of the game is to score points from combinations formed during play and from combinations made in your hand after play. The dealer gives his opponent and himself six cards each, singly. Each player places two cards facedown to form the crib, which goes to the dealer. Cut the remaining deck and turn the top card (the starter) faceup.


The dealer’s opponent leads by laying down any card and announcing its value. Face cards count as 10, aces as 1, and all other cards at face value. (The announced value is not a score.) The dealer then plays a card, announcing the total value of both cards played. (Players keep the cards they play in front of them.)

The play continues until someone is unable to play without making the total count go over 31. That player announces “go,” and the other plays all the additional cards possible without pushing the count over 31. The player who couldn’t play then starts a new play, from zero, using the remaining cards in his or her hand.


You keep score on a board with four rows of 30 holes each (two rows for each player) and 2 or 4 extra holes. Each player has two pegs. If you don’t have a board, draw one on paper and use coins as markers.

At the beginning of the game, starting from an extra hole, a player advances his first peg one hole along the outer row for each point scored. At the second turn, he marks his score with his second peg, counting the hole beyond his first peg as 1. This system lets a player keep track of his former score as well as his most recent. He walks the pegs first along the outer row, then the inner, as he plays, for a total score of 61 or twice around, for 121, if agreed upon in advance.

The opportunity for scoring begins just before the first play. If the starter is a jack (his nibs or his heels), the dealer gets 2 points. During play, a card that brings the announced value to exactly 15 scores 2. A card that brings the announced value to exactly 31 scores 2; if 31 is not reached, the card bringing the value nearest to 31 scores 1. Playing the last card scores 1.

A pair, or a card having the same value as the card previously played, scores 2; a triplet, 6; a four, or fourth of a kind, 12. The last card of a run, or sequence, of three or more cards of the same or mixed suits scores 1 point for each card in the run.

At the end of play, the dealer’s opponent takes the scores for the cards in his hand. Then the dealer takes the scores for the cards in his hand plus those in the crib. A player with his nobs, the jack of the same suit as the starter card, adds 1 point to his score.
Pairs, runs, and other combinations earn the same scores as when playing, but the starter can be used to form them. A single card can be used in more than one combination.

In addition, a double run of three, a three-card sequence with a pair to any of the three cards (for example, 9-9-87), scores 8; a double run of four (9-98-7-6) scores 10. A triple run, or a triplet with two other cards in sequence with it (9-9-9-8-7), scores 15. A quadruple, or two pairs and a card in sequence with both (9-9-8-8-7), scores 16. A four-card flush, or four cards of the same suit, scores 4 if in either hand but not if in the crib. A five-card flush, or 4 cards in a hand or the crib of the same suit as the starter, scores 5.

If your opponent overlooks points in his hand, you can cry “Muggins!” and make them your own. The first player to reach 61 (or 121) wins. If the loser fails to score at least 31 or 61, he is left in the lurch (the first half of the run on the cribbage board) and the winner is credited with winning two games. The loser of any game deals the next game.