Beginner's Guide to Cribbage




In this Instructable I will tell you the basics of how to play cribbage. To start off you will need a deck of cards and a cribbage board which both of them can be found at your local walmart for less than 15 dollars.

Object of Game
The object of the game is to score 121 points which are pegged on the board by points in your hands. Each hand determines how many points you will have which we will get into later in this Instructable.

Description of Cribbage board
A standard cribbage board usually comes with 3 different colors on the face of it with 121 holes in each color. It also contains three pegs of each color which are kept in the back of the board in a small compartment. A peg is used to keep track of the points that you have scored throughout the duration of the game.

Step 1: The Basics

The Basics
To play a game of cribbage you need atleast two people but can have three or four people. Here are some guidelines which will depend on the number of people that are playing:
1. Two people: the dealer deals six cards each (pictured below)
2. Three people: the dealer deals five cards each and then one off to the side (pictured below)
3. Four people: the dealer deals five cards each sitting opposite each other (pictured below)

To determine who deals first set the full deck of cards in front of everyone and then everyone cuts from the same deck. Whoever cuts the lowest card wins the deal first. This is very important when it gets to the end of the game which I will discuss with you later. The dealer also changes people every time a new hand is dealt.

Step 2:

Pick up cards and put them in order from smallest to largest (Ace being the smallest and King being the largest).

You don't necessarily have to put them in order but I always find it easier to count the points in my hand when I do.

Step 3:

The points system: Basic Hands
    • Any cards that add up to the sum of 15.
    • Pairs (two of the same card)
    • Flushes (four or more of the same suit)
    • Three-of-a-kind
    • Runs of 3 or more (runs are cards that are in numerical order)
These hands are all pictured below. These are just a few examples of what you could have.

Step 4:

Determine which combination of cards will get the most points because you will have to discard two of them if six cards are dealt and one of them if five cards are dealt so that you have four left in your hand

Step 5:

Discard two cards that you are not going to use for your hand. These discards are placed face down in a pile in front of the dealer which is known as the crib. The crib is a four card hand that is made up of discards which the dealer will count for extra points at the end of the hand.

For example I would get rid of the 9 and the queen so that way I would have the most points out of that hand. I will explain the points in the next hand.

Step 6:

After discarding, the game can begin. The person left of the dealer or in two player, the person that did not deal, cuts the remaining deck of cards and the dealer pulls the top card off of the cut deck. The card that is cut, which is known as the cut card, is laid down on top of the remaining deck where it will come into play later in the game. Now the person left of the dealer or in a two player game, the person that did not deal, lays down the first card face down from the hand that they are holding. When they lay the first card, that person needs to announce the face value of that card. Everything is face value up to ten with the jack, queen, and king having a face value of ten as well. Typically you want to start off by laying down the highest card in your hand.

Step 7:

After the first person lies down and announces the face value then it is the person to the left of them or the dealer, in a two person game, then that person will lay down one of their cards from their hand in an attempt to add up to 15 for two points. Another way to score two points, while laying down, is to lay the same card right after the last one is laid (for example a two laid after a two). Another way is to lay a card down in a run of three (for example one person lays a 7, then the other lays a 6, then the other person lays a 8) which would result in the person saying 21 for three and then peg three points on the board. The last way to score points while laying down is to add up to 31. This is the highest number that someone can add up to.

Step 8:

Repeat step 7 going back and forth laying cards down and adding cards up until you reach 31 or cannot go any longer in which the person that laid the last card before the other person couldnt go gets a point for a go. After the person gets a go then the person that couldnt go before (without going over 31) starts over and lies another card face up from their hand.

Step 9:

Once all the cards have been laid down then it is time to count your hand again. To start counting your hand you need to first determine all the different ways that a card can add up to 15. If you have any 15s then you need to say 15 for 2 and if you have more than one combination that adds up to 15 then you proceed saying 15 for 4 and so on until you finish counting your combos of 15. You also need to determine if you have any pairs, runs, or three-of-a-kinds.

To count this hand pictured below, I would first say 15 for 2 (6,5,4), 15 for 4 (6,5,other 4), 15 for 6 (9,6), two runs of three, and a pair for a total of 14 points. Then you would peg 14 holes on the board.

If you cut the cards at the beginning of the game and cut a jack instead of a nine or any other card the person that cuts that jack gets two points for cutting the jack.

Step 10:

The person that did not deal or the person to the left of the dealer will count their hand first and proceed around back to the dealer. The cut card as mentioned earlier comes into play and can be used to help get you more points in your hand. Once the dealer counts his main hand, remember the dealer also has the crib or all of the cards that were discarded in the beginning of the hand to count now to for more points.

The crib is to the left of the hand below. We counted that hand in the last step so we had 14 points in that hand. After that the crib is turned over and counted and as you can see from the next photo we just have a pair for 2 points.

Step 11:

Once the counting is finished this process starts all over but with the person to the left or the person that did not deal last time starts dealing the next hand. This process continues until one of the players gets 121 points or more altogether, therefore completing the game.



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    16 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I'm new to crib but love it. My questions:

    1. While trying to reach 31 can the value (say a 5) of the cut card be used to score say 15 for 2, or a 3,4,5 for 3 the 5 being the cut card? Or is the cut card NOT used while trying to reach 31?

    2. I think I can use my opponents card that they they laid while trying to reach 31, say a 5, and then if I lay a 10 take 15 for 2?

    3. Or if I lay an 8, the pone lays and 8 they get 2 for a pair, and if I lay another 8 I get 3 point for the 3 8's?

    4. If say laid a card, and a 2 had already been played for 29 and I played another 2 for 31, do I get 2 for a pair, 2 for reaching 31 and 1 for last card, if my last two made 31?

    Many thanks..


    3 years ago

    Good wording in most everything. Very few grammatical mistakes which is important in explaining a lot of this stuff. However, some edits need to be made. Now I'm new to cribbage but, as others have said there are a few things left out.
    I believe the last player to play a card on "the count" gets a point, this point always goes to the dealer.
    Someone in the comments was asking how high a number before you move your piece, I believe he was asking about the "count" and that number is 31, if you get that number you bet a point (or two?) if exactly 31 is not obtained the game continues as explained above.

    And lastly there's for his heels, nobs, nibs and for his something? Which are funny little point getters which don't really affect the game that much if left out.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Also, this article is featured as the #1 result on how to play cribbage on Google, congrats!


    3 years ago

    Good guide. Thanks for sharing this with us; Jesus Christ Bless! :)


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    It's both. Nibs is when the turn up card is a jack, nobs is when the jack in your hand matches the suit of the turn up card.


    4 years ago

    For your info this wasn't that helpful it was a little bit but what I was trying to figure out was how many points are you trying to get to in one hand to move up on the board like you put a 10 down he puts a ten like are you trying to get highest lowest 21 32 like what


    I used to have the same board but my pegs were not very well formed at the ends (weak). The best way I can describe it was they felt like a plyable waxy substance vs an actual plastic and each time you moved them whether or not you put them in a little too far (even if you didn't put them in too far and didn't take them straight out but did at an angle) they would break off in the ends in a similar manner to dried wax breaking off a candle and the ends would get stuck making the board unusable! :(!


    4 years ago on Step 11

    Thanks so much its been years since i played (use to with my granpa) now my son and I want to learn and play


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Also you forgot to mention all those salty dogs who play muggins, or, people who take the points you forgot to count. I am one of those salty individuals.