A WannaLearn.com Select Instructional Site

Two Person Cribbage

The object of the game cribbage is to obtain 121 points before your opponent does. This is accomplished by "pegging" or moving your pegs around the board as you score points. It is also a game where etiquette is important. The rituals associated with cutting and dealing, playing and pegging, as well as the terminology, all serve the useful purpose of keeping things in order - and they help to give the game a flavor of its own.

Terms used:

Card Values or Pip Values
Two players use a standard 52 card pack and the Cards rank from K (high) Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A (low).

Cut for Deal   
The two players each cut a card from a shuffled deck to determine who starts the game as Dealer and Pone (non Dealer), low card wins. If the cards are equal the deck is shuffled and the players cut again.

This is the player dealing the cards for a hand (round) and will have the crib that hand.

The player who is dealt to, also the person who is dealt to for the first hand. Dealer and Pone alternate each hand, however, in determining game strategy the first Pone is often referred to as the Pone for the game. In tournament play the Pone cuts the deck before the Dealer deals the hand.

The Deal
The Dealer alternately deals 6 cards to both the Pone and himself. The Dealer places the remaining deck of cards face down on her side of the table.

The Discard
Both players discard, face down, 2 of the 6 cards to the Dealer's side of the table.

The Starter or Cut Card
After the cards have been dealt and the players have contributed to the crib, the Pone cuts the deck and the Dealer turns over the top card of the remaining deck. This is the Start card. The Start card is not used during the play of the hands. The Pone must cut at least 4 cards and must leave at least 4 card during the cut.

Card Combinations
Points may be obtained by getting various card combinations such as pairs, runs, flushes etc. They are presented with their point value in the table below.

The Play or "Pegging"
The objective here is two fold... Each player, starting with the Pone, takes turns laying one card on the table. As they do, if they achieve any of the card combinations as shown in the later table, they peg the respective points. In addition, if they reach 31 exactly, they peg 2 points. The complete breakdown of card combinations and points follows. Players announce the total pip value of the cards played by both players and any points scored. The player must peg the points announced prior to playing another card. Players peg by moving the rear peg ahead of the front peg the number of points "holes" scored. The front peg is the players most recent score and the rear peg the previous score.

The Crib
This refers to four cards that were placed face down on the Dealer's side of the table at the start of a hand of play. They remain face down until the end of the hand at which point they are counted and the points are pegged by the dealer. Possession alternates as the players each takes his or her turn as the dealer.

The Show or "Counting the Hand"
After the Play, each player counts the points in their hand starting with the Pone, then the Dealer and finally the Dealer's crib. The Start card may be used to add to possible point values.

A Round is the play of cards during a hand when the players attempt to score points. The round ends when a player scores 31, gets a "Go" for playing the last card of a round without reaching 31, or plays the last card of a hand without reaching 31.

A hand consists of one or more Rounds and the Count. At the end of the hand, the points are counted and pegged, and the Pone becomes the Dealer and deals a fresh hand. The new Dealer also get the crib as well.

The Cribbage Board
A cribbage board is a wooden (plastic, ivory, etc.) board with small holes, in groups of five, drilled into it. The players are represented by pegs that fit in the holes. In any case, each player has two pegs: the forward peg shows the player's score to date, and the rear peg shows the previous score. When a player scores points, the rear peg is moved in front to show "Peg" the new score. That way the distance between the pegs shows the amount most recently scored, and the opponent can thereby check it has been scored correctly. Fine Wood tournament boards as used for ACC tournament are available at SCM Tourney Boards.

The Winner
The player to peg 121 points or more, first.

The Dead Hole
The player to peg 120 points exactly is said to be in the "dead" or "stink" hole. If you lose the game in this position you are "left in the stink hole."

A player who loses by more then 30 points is considered to be "skunked", 60 points is double skunked and 90 points is triple skunked.

The Game Sequence:

Starting the game
The game begins with a shuffle of the cards. Each player cuts a card and the lowest card wins, that person gets the first crib and deals the first hand. The cards are then shuffled by the dealer. After the first hand, the opposite player deals the cards and receives the crib. The dealer and possession of the crib alternates each hand until the game ends.

Dealing and the Crib
Each player is dealt six cards. They keep four of their choice and discard two cards into the crib on the Dealer's side of the table. The crib remains face down until the end of each hand when the crib points are tallied and added to the dealer's total. The remaining deck is left face down until each player has made their choices for which cards they wish to keep and which cards they want to discard into the crib.

The Cut
After each player decides which cards they want in their hand & the crib, the Pone cuts the deck and the Start card, or top card of the remaining deck is turned over. If the Start card is a Jack , then the dealer pegs (receives) two points immediately. (Called "Two for Nibs")

The Play
The object of this part of cribbage is to total the pip values of the cards played to equal 15 or 31 points without going over. Cards are valued by their number except for the face cards (Jack, Queen & King) which are worth ten points. Aces are always valued as "one".

The Pone begins by playing the first card to the table, leading. Each player alternately plays a card to the table, announcing the total pip value of the cards played, in turn until 31 is reached. In addition to going to 31, players may also get points for achieving any of the combinations listed below... such as a pair, run or or three of a kind, etc. If a player only has cards in her hand that will exceed 31, then they say "Go" and the other player may use his/her remaining cards to get to 31 and/or to obtain any of the possible card combinations. If both players only have remaining cards that will exceed 31, then the last player to place a card on the table gets one point for "The Go" and the other player begins the next round again until all cards have been used. The person playing the last card not exceeding 31 pegs one point for "Last".


Cribbage points:

Name  Description Score When Scored
Fifteen Any combination of cards totalling 15 2 YYY
Thirty-one Any combination of cards totalling 31 2 YNN
Last Card Being the last player to Play a card without exceeding 31 1 YNN
Pairs Two cards of the same pip value 2 YYY
Three of a kind Three cards of the same rank (a.k.a Pair Royal) 6 YYY
Four of a kind Four cards of the same rank (a.k.a Double Pair Royal) 12 YYY
Runs A combination of three or more cards in sequence (they need not be of the same suit)1 point per card in sequence 3 to 5
Hand or Crib
up to 7
during play
Double runs Two 3 card runs that center on a pair
6 points for two runs + 2 points for the pair
Two 4 card runs that center on a pair
8 points for two runs + 2 points for the pair
10 NYY
Triple runs Three 3 card runs that center on a three of a kind
9 points for three runs + 6 points for the three of a kind
15 NYY
Double Double runs Four 3 card runs that center on 2 pairs
12 ponits for 4 runs + 4 points for the 2 pairs
16 NYY
Flushes Four cards of the same suit in the hand 4 NYN
Four cards of the same suit in the hand plus the Start Card 5 NYY
His Nobs or
"One for His Nobs"
A jack in the hand or crib of the same suit as the Start Card 1 NYY
Nineteen Because it is impossible to obtain this number regardless of the card combinations, it is the term for a useless hand. Zero   
The Show or Count
After the play comes the Show. Starting with the Pone, his hand of cards is displayed and the results are pegged. Then the dealer displays his/her hand, pegs the points and then turns over the crib and pegs those points. The objective here is to make any of the mentioned card combinations, except 31. The Start card (the face up card on the deck) is used with each player's hand as well as the crib and the scores are pegged accordingly. After the count the Pone becomes the Dealer and shuffles and deals the cards thus beginning the next round and hand.

Common Questions about Cribbage
Counting your Cribbage hand
Odd Hands page
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
Authors note: These rules follow the ACC's tournament rules published in 1992 and 1998. If you see errors or wish to add something, please feel free to e-mail me.