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How to Play Crib Card Game

Cribbage - often abbreviated to crib - is a two, three, or sometimes four player (e.g. playing two against two as partners) card game.

The information in this guide explains how to play cribbage card game and the terms, definitions, and lingo used by the players.

RULES OF CRIBBAGE UK: The regulations explained in this article refer mostly to the two (2) player cribbage game.

There is one main object of cribbage. The aim is to be the first player to score 61 or 121 points.

Players need nominal equipment to play crib. You need a 52 standard deck of cards and a crib board - called a cribbage pegging out board.

As a rule, a crib tournament will use the 61 point game to speed up the knockout stages. But, the 121 point game is the most popular version played in pubs, especially when there are 4 players.

Legal Note about Crib Rules: Last time we checked, cribbage is the only card game you can play 'legally' for money in British pubs. Another section contains more information about old English laws not repealed.

How to Play Cribbage UK: 6 Sections

  1. The Cut: Cutting the deck before dealing.
  2. The Deal: Dealing out the cards.
  3. Cribbage Discards: Placing cards into the dealers crib (box).
  4. The Play: Pegging as many points as possible.
  5. The Show: Adding up the scores and pegging on the board.
  6. The Crib: Adding up extra scores from the box and pegging them on the board.

1. Cribbage Cut Rules: Who Cuts the Deck

The first step is to shuffle the pack of cards and then each player cuts the deck in turn. The player turning up the lowest card becomes the dealer. A 'king' is the highest card and an 'ace' is lowest.

Cutting the deck determines the first dealer. But, the dealership alternates between the players after making the first deal.

What if both players cut the same card, such as two queens? In this case the players should reshuffle the whole pack and both players cut the deck once more.

2. Cribbage Dealing Rules

The dealer shuffles the pack once more and then the non-dealer cuts the deck. The dealer should deal out six (6) cards face down and in turn to each player, dealing out to the non-dealer first.

Important: An English pub cribbage game will often award three (3) points to the non-dealer once only and at the start of play.

3. The Cribbage Discard Strategy

Each player should discard two (2) cards, face down into the dealers crib. The crib should stay face down until it is ready for cribbage scoring and pegging.

The top card of the deck becomes the 'turn card' (also called the start card). If it is a 'jack', the dealer pegs two (2) points (saying out loud 'two for his heels' - also called nibs).

4. Crib Rules: The Play

The basic aim of cribbage is to peg as many points as possible. The non-dealer lays the first card face up and the dealer follows. Players must 'call out and peg' if they score points. Play will continue until someone reaches a count of 31 or both players call 'go'.

If a player cannot lay a card without going over 31 they call 'go' and the other player continues. But, once both players say 'go', or there is a 31, you must move the cards to one side and face down.

The person who did not lay the last card starts the new play. The cards stay in front of each player because they are for 'the show'.

Cribbage Rules UK: How to Play Crib Card Game for BeginnersHow to Play Cribbage Points

5. The Show in Cribbage Rules UK

The non-dealer places their cards face up, counts their tally, and pegs the score. The dealer follows that by doing the same with their hand.

All five cards, which includes the four (4) hand cards as well as the turn card, are available for crib pegging rules. The same cards are also in play for extra points.

Note: It is impossible to score 19 points in Cribbage. If a player calls a count of 19 points you should call the 'muggins' rule. Question how they get the count of 19 if you do not play the muggins rule.

When beginners count the points it is best to do it in your head first. Then count out your score aloud before you peg them on the board. Miscounting the muggins rule can cost you points in the rules of cribbage UK.

6. The Rules for Crib

Crib scoring is exactly the same principle as that of the show. One exception is that a crib score can only include a flush if all five crib cards are of the same suit to get the 5 points.

Adding Up The Show and Crib Points

Reshuffle the pack after counting up the crib. The game returns to the next deal and continues until one player gets over 61 points (2 player game).

Terms Used in Cribbage

Fun fact: The name for the penultimate hole on the board (e.g. before the finishing hole) is the 'stink hole'.

Cribbage Rhymes

These cribbage tips and rhymes are sometimes said during play when laying a card to hit 31 from a score that is:

Brief History of Cribbage

The game of cribbage comes from 'noddy' a 16th Century card game. Noddy was about as useful for gambling as the game of SNAP. So an Englishman named Sir John Suckling changed the game and it became cribbage in the 17th Century.

Sir John Suckling was a courtier, a poet, and an ardent gambler. One rumour says he gave gifts of marked cards to the aristocracy. He then made his fortune by winning large sums of money from them.

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Note: The short video explains the basic fundamentals and it's a useful addition to the official cribbage PDF instructions.

Rules of Cribbage Made Easy for Beginners in United Kingdom