Cribbage Game Rules

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GameColony offers 3 ways to play cribbage online:
  • Cribbage Live app for iPhone, iPad, Android
  • Browser-based Cribbage
  • Cribbage for Windows

  • Variations of Cribbage

    Both Five Card and Six Card variations of cribbage are supported. As 6-card cribbage variation is the most common, it is a default variation. By default, the points will be scored automatically both during play and during show-of-cards. With Manual Scoring table option selected, both players will be forced to count their hands -- both during play and during show-of-cards.
    Players may also elect to play at the table that either shows or does not show the played cards in hand.

    Six Card Cribbage

    Six Card Cribbage is two-player game that is widely played in English speaking parts of the world. In England, it is primarily a pub game - indeed, it is one of the few games allowed by Statute to be played for small stakes. Cribbage is considered to be a Game of Skill where players must balance a number of different objectives, remain quick-witted enough to recognize combinations in order to beat their opponent. It is a game where experience counts for a great deal -- though a little bit of luck as in real life always helps :)

    Cribbage is also a game where proper gaming etiquette is important. The proper rituals associated with cutting and dealing, playing and pegging, as well as the terminology, all serve the useful purpose of keeping things in proper order and maintain the game authenticity.

    Two players use a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank from high to low: K(high) Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A(low).


    To be the first to score 121 points or over (twice round the usual British design of board) accumulated over several deals. Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occurring during the play or occurring in a player's hand or in the cards discarded before the play, which form the crib or box.

    Board, Pegs & Score

    Traditionally, cribbage score is kept by means of a board and pegs. In online game, the score is also denoted numerically below & above the cribbage board. The score on the bottom of the cribbage board (in black) belongs to you. Your pegs are also in black. The score above the cribbage board (in red) belong to your opponent. Opponent's pegs are red.

    Starting at one end of the board - usually to the left of the first dealer - the scores are pegged automatically as they occur using their two pegs alternately: the forward peg shows the player's latest score, and the rear peg shows the previous score. Pegs move from outer track of the board starting at the bottom toward the inner track.

    In the example of the cribbage board on the right, the score is 13:4 in your favor. The forward black peg is on the 13th hole for you & on the 7th hole for your opponent. The rear black peg for you is on the 4th hole, indicating that the previous score was: 4 for you.
    opp. score
    your score


    The first deal is determined randomly. The deal then alternates from hand to hand until the game is over.


    Each player selects two cards to discard to form a 4-card crib. This 4-card crib is set aside until the end of the hand. The crib will count for the dealer. Non-dealer (or Pone) will try to throw cards that are unlikely to make valuable combinations, but must balance this against keeping a good hand for himself. Dealer, on the other hand, may sometimes find it pays to place good cards in the crib - especially if they cannot be used to best advantage in hand.

    Starter Card

    One of the undealt cards is turned face up. It is the starter card - it will count for combinations as part of both players' hands as well as for the dealer's crib. If the starter card is a Jack, the dealer immediately pegs 2 holes - this is called Two for his heels.

    Play of the Cards

    Starting with the non-dealer, the players take turns to play single cards. You play your own cards to form a face-up pile in front of yourself, keeping them separate from the other players' cards. In this stage of the game the total pip value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31. The pip values of the cards are:
    Ace = 1; 2 to 10 = face value; jack = 10; queen = 10; king = 10.

    As each card is played, the running total is written next to the open cards (e.g., 'on table: 16'). . If a card is played which brings the total exactly to 31, the player who did it pegs 2 points - called '31 for 2'.

    A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play a card but says 'Go', leaving his opponent to continue if possible, pegging for any further combinations made (see below). Bringing the total to exactly 31 pegs 2, but if neither player can lay a card without going over 31, then the last player to lay a card pegs one for the go or one for last.

    The cards that have been played are turned over and a fresh round of play starts with the unplayed cards in exactly the same way. The opponent of the player who played last in the previous round (scoring Thirty one for two or One for last) plays first in the new round. This second round of play again continues until neither can play without going over 31. The last player again scores "1 for last" or "31 for 2", and if either player has any cards left there is a further round. Play continues for as many rounds as necessary until both players' cards are exhausted. Towards the end, it may happen that one player has run out of cards but the other still has several cards. In that case the player who still has cards simply carries on playing and scoring for any combinations formed until all his cards have been played.

    Example: Player A has king-king-2-2; player B has 9-8-7-6.
    First round: A plays king - "10"; B plays 6 - "16"; A plays king - "26"; B says "go"; A plays 2 - "28"; A plays 2 - "30 for 3". A pegs 3, namely 2 for the pair of twos and 1 for playing the last card of this round.

    Second round: B plays 8 - "8"; A has no cards left so cannot do anything; B plays 7 - "fifteen two" (B pegs 2 points); B plays 9 "24 for 3 and 1 for last" (B pegs 4 points: three for the run 7-8-9 and one for playing the last card).

    Please note: it is never possible to score "one for last" and "31 for 2" at the same time. They are alternatives. If you make exactly 31 for two points you do not get an additional "one for last".

    Tactical note: It is often worth keeping low cards in hand for this phase of the game, especially when there is a strong possibility of being able to peg out before one's opponent.

    Scoring During Play

    A player who makes any of the following scores during the play pegs them immediately:

    15:If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you peg 2 claiming Fifteen two.
    31:As mentioned above, if you play a card which brings the total to exactly 31 you peg 2.
    Pair:If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card (e.g. a king after a king) you peg 2 for a pair.
    Pair Royal: If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rank is played, the player of the third card scores 6 for pair royal.
    Double Pair Royal: Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession. The player of the fourth card scores 12.
    Run: A run or sequence is a set of 3 or more cards of consecutive ranks (irrespective of suit) - such as 9-10-jack or 2-3-4-5. The cards do not have to be played in order, but no other cards must intervene. Score equals to a number of cards in a run.
    Last Card: If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoever played the last card pegs 1.

    The Show

    All of the cards that were put down during the play are now retrieved and score for combinations of cards held in hand. First the non-dealer's hand is exposed, and scored. The start card also counts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted:

    15: Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points. For example king, jack, five, five would count 8 points (four fifteens as the king and the jack can each be paired with either five). This combination would be marked as fifteen: eight.
    Pair: A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points. Three cards of the same rank contain 3 different pairs and thus score a total of 6 points for pair royal. Four of a kind contain 6 pairs and so score 12 points.
    Run: Three cards of consecutive rank (irrespective of suit), such as ace-2-3, score 3 points for a run. A hand such as 6-7-7-8 contains two runs of 3 (as well as two fifteens and a pair) and so would score 12 altogether. A run of four cards, such as 9-10-J-Q scores 4 points (this is slightly illogical - you might expect it to score 6 because it contains two runs of 3, but it doesn't. The runs of 3 within it don't count - you just get 4), and a run of five cards scores 5.
    Flush:  If all four cards of the hand are the same suit, 4 points are scored for flush (only in hands - not in crib). If the start card is the same suit as well, the flush is worth 5 points. There is no score for having 3 hand cards and the start all the same suit. Note also that there is no score for flush during the play - it only counts in the show.
    One For His Nob: If the hand contains a Jack of the same suit as the start card, you peg One for his nob.

    After a non-dealer's hand has been shown and the score pegged, dealer's hand is shown, scored and pegged in the same way. Finally the dealer exposes the four cards of the crib and scores them with the start card. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands except that a flush in the crib only scores if all four crib cards and the start card are of the same suit. If that happens the flush scores 5.

    No Skunks Allowed!

    In a non-standard cribbage variation, some play that if the loser scores 61-90 points in 121 pt game, he/she is skunked and loses a double stake; if the loser scores 60 or fewer, he/she is double skunked and loses a triple (or quadruple) stake. At GameColony only standard classical cribbage rules the day -- in $Ticket games no player can lose more than a single entry fee.

    Five Card Cribbage

    5 card Cribbage variation has the following differences from the main (6-card) variation:
    • 5 cards are dealt to each player and the undealt part of the pack is placed face down on the table
    • The Pone is awarded 3 points at the start of the game
    • As soon as someone reaches 61 points, that player wins the game
    • While playing a single hand, the total pip value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31

    The table set for the 5-card Cribbage variation is showing the following in the 'Points' area: 61pt. (5) which is meant to show the points (61) and the number of cards (5).

    Manual Scoring Option

    With 'Manual Scoring' table option selected, both players are forced to count their hands -- both during play and during show-of-cards.

  • If you undercount your points -- it's your loss -- you will only get the points corresponding to your manual count. The board will show your 'undercounted' points alongside with computer-scored points.

  • If you overcount your points -- the server will catch the error and the extra points will be added to your opponent's score. The board will show your 'overcounted' points alongside with computer-scored points.

    In the example below, a player just put an Ace of Hearts on the table earning 2 points (not shown). Instructions in red call for this player to select his points from the drop-down box and press the 'score' button.


  • When entering your score, you do not have to add 1 pt for last card in the drop-down box -- it will be auto-added for you.
    For example, if you just scored one 31 pts combination, just put 2pts (for 31). If you scored 31 by adding a pair -- make it 4 pts in the drop-down box (2 pts for the pair and 2 pts for 31). If in the latter case you forget about the pair and just score 2 pts for 31, then you'll undercount 2 points, so your total score will be 2 pts lower.
  • Initial 'for his heels' points will be auto-added
  • During the show-of-cards, the dealer has 2 separate drop-down boxes to put the score in - for the crib and for the hand

    In the lobby view, the table with a non-default Manual Scoring option is marked with 'M'.

    Table Option to Show or Hide Played hands

    There are two schools of thought in face-to-face cribbage regarding whether to show played hands or not.

    One is that you show the cards and the other is that you do not. In order to reduce an advantage of one person over the other, the cards should be shown.

    If the cards are not shown, the player with more acute memory has a distinct advantage over the opponent.

    In the ACC (American Cribbage Congress) face-to-face tournaments and in ACC Grass Roots play, the rules state that the cards are to be shown.

    By default, at GameColony the played cards-in-hand are now shown as smaller cards next to the clock. Experienced players, however, may want to uncheck the table option "Show played hand" which would give a player with better memory skills an extra advantage. In the lobby view, the table with a non-default option of not showing the played cards-in-hand is marked with 'n'.

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