Cribbage Game Rules
Variations of Cribbage
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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