Counting Your Hand

Counting your hand correctly is a very important part of the game of Cribbage, especially when you are playing someone who likes to call "Muggins". Muggins is when a person misses points and the other person takes them. If you get mugged a couple times you soon decide to learn to do a better job counting. In general the best approach is to count your 15's, then pairs, then runs, then Nobs, then finally flushes. In counting the hands below I have set the total score in bold and a larger font for clarity, scores are announced by saying the scoring method then the total score, i.e. 15-2, 15-4, etc.

OK for starters lets look at a typical cribbage hand:

3 of Spades4 of Diamonds5 of DiamondsJack of Diamonds 6 of Diamonds

In this instance the 6 of Diamonds is the starter card. What you should do first is count all the combinations that make 15, then the run, then Nobs. So here you have 15-2(5 and Jack), 15-4(4+5+6), and a run of 4 is 8(3,4,5,6) and Nobs is 9.

A good way to practice counting cribbage hands is to play cribbage solitaire. You just need a deck of cards and a cribbage board. To start I deal 2 cards up, one down, two up, one down and two up. The down cards are one half of a crib, I discard 2 of the up cards face down to complete the crib. then I turn over the top card of the remaining pack as the starter card, 2 points for Nibs if it comes up. I then look at the hand, peg points as if I were playing them in sequence, i.e. 15's, runs, pairs, etc., then I count the hand with the starter card and peg the points. Then I count the crib and peg the points. All eight cards used in the hand and crib are put in a "discard" pile. I then deal the starter card to the hand with an up card, 1 down, 2 up , 1 down, and 2 up and continue the way I started. Once through the deck should leave you with three cards left over in the pack. If you can complete 121 holes pegged before the deck runs out you win, but in all honesty the improvement to your counting skills will make you a winner no matter how many times you loose at solitaire.

If you can remember to follow the sequence I outlined above you should be able to pick up most of the points in a typical hand. You will however occasionally find a hand with points that are harder to notice, or so numerous you lose track of the total. The rest of this page is a collection of hands that might cause problems for the beginner or novice player.

Hands with Scores

We can start with the highest hand in cribbage to illustrate how to count a big hand and not get lost.

5 of Clubs5 of Diamonds5 of HeartsJack of Spades 5 of Spades

In this instance the 5 of Spades is the starter card. What you should do first is count all the combinations that make 15, then the double pairs royal(4 of a kind), then Nobs. So here you have 15-2(5 of ¨ and Jack), 15-4(5 of © and Jack), 15-6(5 of § and Jack), 15-8(5 of ª and Jack), 15-10(5's of ¨ © §), 15-12(5's of© § ª), 15-14(5's of¨ © ª), 15-16(5's of ¨ § ª), 12 for the four 5's for 28, and Nobs is 29.

The real thing to pick up here is that a four of a kind has 6 pairs and 4 three's of a kind. Most people falter counting the combinations in a four of a kind, usually on the short side because they can't believe how many points there are.

A Double Run

Many people just learning the game don't really understand how a double run works. The idea is that you can count each completely different set of cards that be combined for a run. I used the hand you see here because it has no 15's to confuse you with extra points.
Ace of Diamonds2 of Spades3 of Clubs7 of Clubs Ace of Clubs

The pair of Aces is 2, a run of 3 is 5(Ace of ¨,2,3), a second run of 3 is 8(Ace of §,2,3),

The best strategy is to recognize that a double run is worth 8 points and that you should just count it as a unit and concentrate on any other points in the hand. A double-double run is worth 16 points and should also be counted as a unit, follow the count below:

Ace of Diamonds2 of Spades3 of Clubs3 of Diamonds Ace of Clubs

The pair of Ace's is 2, The pair of 3's is 4, a run of 3 is 7(Ace of ¨,2,3 of ¨), a second run of 3 is 10(Ace of ¨,2,3 of §), a third run of 3 is 13(Ace of §,2,3 of ¨), a fourth run of 3 is 16(Ace of §,2,3 of §)

RaggityAnn and Andy's

These hands cause confusion for people who forget about the low cards in the hand. A RaggityAnn is worth 13 points and a RaggityAndy is worth 11 points. Using the counting method above follow each hand.

Ace of Diamonds6 of Clubs7 of Spades8 of Clubs Ace of Clubs

15-2(7+8), 15-4(Ace of ¨+6+8), 15-6(Ace of§+6+8), 15-8(Ace of ¨+Ace of§+6+7), a pair of Aces's is 10, and a run of 3 is 13(6,7,8)

2 of Spades6 of Clubs7 of Spades8 of Clubs 2 of Hearts

15-2(7+8), 15-4(2 of ©+6+7), 15-6(2 ofª+6+7), a pair of 2's is 8, and a run of 3 is 11(6,7,8)

Hand with a Flush

We saw this hand at the top without a flush, the point total then was 9, let's see what the flush does.

3 of Diamonds4 of Diamonds5 of DiamondsJack of Diamonds 6 of Diamonds

15-2(5 and Jack), 15-4(4+5+6), a run of 4 is 8(3,4,5,6), Nobs is 9, and a 5 card flush of ¨'s is 14.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you might have. I do enjoy corresponding with all cribbage enthusiasts.

Rules of Cribbage page
Common Questions about Cribbage
Teaching Cribbage to Kids page
Playing with more than two players page
Rules at ACC Tournaments page
Pegging to Win page
Muggins explanation page
Germantown Peggers Home Page