How to play Cribbage

Cribbage header

The card game cribbage, or crib, is popular in English speaking countries and is thought to have been invented in England in the early 17th century. The game is a staple for us here at Hitch-Hikers Handbook and is a legacy of Jon‘s grandmother who has been playing him, and beating him, at crib since he was a child.

The game is usually played by 2 players, although 3 & 4 person variants exist, and the object of the game is to score 121 points. Points are scored by card combinations adding up to 15, pairs, runs and flushes as well as the appearance of jacks at certain points of the game.


Crib can be divided into 3 stages: the deal, pegging and the show. To begin, each player is dealt 6 cards (5 in the 3 or 4 player variants) from which they choose 4 cards to keep. The discarded cards are then added to the ‘box’ for the dealer to use as an extra hand later. The player to the left then cuts the deck (“the cut”) which marks the end of the first stage of the game.

Pegging is begun by the player to the left laying a card open face on the table. Each player lays one card consecutively until the count (the accumulative adding of the cards) reaches 31 or the closest possible to this number. Two points are won by making the count to 15, 31 or by pairing the previous card. One point for each card informing a run (i.e. 4,5,6) and for laying the last card closest to 31. Once 31 (or the nearest possible number) has been reached, the cards are turned over and the process is repeated.

The final part of the game is the count. Each player’s hands are used in conjunction with ‘the cut’ card drawn at the beginning. Two points are scored for all combinations of 15 (i.e. 8+7; 1+4 + any face card) and all pairs (2,2,2=6 points 3,3=2 points). One point is scored for each card of a run (A,2,3 = 3 points 7,8,9,10,J = 5 points) and of a flush (3,8,Q,K = all diamonds/hearts etc..). The dealer shows his hand last and also uses the cards from the ‘box’ to make another hand.

The game is visually known for its distinct scoring board, which is also the object in our Cultural Relay Project, comprising of a traditional wooden, rectangular shape dotted with holes (streets) on which the score is kept.

So, is that all clear? If not, then watch the second edition of our Cultural Relay Project below to help you get to grips with this most English of games …

written by: Jon


Cribbage - Pinterest

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