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Cribbage at Ask-A-Link:
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Cribbage card game strategy
The History of Cribbage card game

Cribbage Overview

Cribbage is played with a of 52 cards, Aces are low. Scoring is recorded on a cribbage board. Two pegs record the score for each player, the rear peg showing the previous tally, the foremost peg recording the current score. The pegs move up the outside of one side of the board and then back down the inside.

Object of the game

The object of the game is to be the first person to score at least 121 points (61 point for the Five-Card Cribbage). Points are mainly scored for runs (groups of three or more sequential cards, regardless of suit); pairs, triples and quadruples (cards of same rank); flushes (all cards in your hand the same suit, can also include the starter); combinations of cards that add up to 15; and a jack in your hand whose suit matches that of the starter. Points are given during the play (pegging stage) and during the open hands stage. Note that the game ends immediately either player reaches the final hole even if this is during the play or during the pone hand scoring.

Card values

Aces are always low and have a counting value of 1. Face cards always have a counting value of 10 but retain their customary rank for runs, thus 9, 10, J, Q, K is a valid run of 5. All other cards are worth their face value.


The first deal is determined randomly. The deal then alternates from hand to hand until the game is over. This is important because the crib gives the dealer an advantage. A dealer deals six cards to each player (Six Card Cribbage). Each player then discards two cards face-down to form the crib, which will be used by the dealer. So, there will be three Cribbage hands: dealer's hand, crib and pone's hand.

The pone (dealer's opponent) will try to throw away the most useless cards and keep the cards which give him the best scoring combinations. The dealer may want to throw away the cards that give the best scoring combinations, because they will be able to count them later. This will make more sense after a few rounds.

The Cut card (starter card)

One of the undealt cards is turned face up. It is the starter card - it will count for combinations as part of both players' hands as well as for the dealer's crib. If the starter card is a Jack, the dealer immediately pegs 2 holes - this is called Two for his heels.

The Play

Starting with the pone, each player plays a card in turn. As each card is played, the running total is written next to the open cards (e.g., 'on table: 17'). The total can not exceed 31. If a player cannot play a card without bringing the total over 31, the player says "Go" and the other player must play any cards that keep the total at 31 or less; the last player to play a card before the count is reset to zero pegs 1 point for the "go" (if some cards remain unplayed) or for "last card" (if no cards remain unplayed). If said player tallies exactly 31 points, another point for "31" is earned, making two points in total.

The played cards then (optionally) moved left to show the previous round - they are shifted up and down. The table count then resets to 0, and the first player having unplayed cards to the left of the player who played last leads the next card.

During the play, players peg points as follows:

  • 2 points for bringing the total to 15.
  • 2 points if the card is of the same value as the previous card - a pair.
  • 6 points for playing a third consecutive card of the same value without the count resetting to zero between any two consecutive cards. This is a pair royal.
  • 12 points for playing a fourth consecutive card of the same value, which is called a double pair royal. 3 points for completing a run of three cards, 4 for completing a run of four cards, and so on. This is regardless of the order of play, as long as no non-run-making card or a "go" stands in the way. Score equals to a number of cards in a run.
  • 2 points for bringing the total to 31.
  • 1 point for playing a card such that the total is less than 31, but none of the other players can play without exceeding 31. This is one for go. The last card played from anyone's hand automatically scores 1 if it does not score 2 for 31, and in this case is called one for last.

The Show

All of the cards that were put down during the play are now retrieved and score for combinations of cards held in hand. First the pone's hand is exposed, and scored. The starter card also counts as part of the dealer hand, the pone hand and the crib when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted:
  • 2 points for each combination of cards that total 15.
  • 2 points for each pair. Three of a kind, sometimes called a pair royal, forms three pairs for 6 points; four of a kind, being a double royal or "double prial", forms six pairs for 12 points.
  • 1 point per card for each card in a run
  • 1 point for each card in a flush. A flush must be at least all cards in hand, but may also include the starter card. The crib hand may only score a flush if the starter card is included.
  • 1 point for the Jack in hand with the same suit as the starter card. This is called his nob.

After a pone's hand has been shown and the score pegged, dealer's hand is shown, scored and pegged in the same way. Finally the dealer exposes the four cards of the crib and scores them with the start card.

No Skunks

In a non-standard cribbage variation, some play that if the loser scores 90 points in 121 pt game, he/she is skunked and loses a double stake. At Ask-A-Link Games this rule is not allowed and only for money game the money stake is never doubled.

Manual Scoring Cribbage Option

With 'Manual Scoring' table option selected, both players are forced to count their hands - both during play stage and during show stage.

If you undercount your points - it's your loss - you will only get the points corresponding to your manual count. The board will show your 'undercounted' points alongside with computer-scored points.

If you overcount your points -- the server will catch the error and the extra points will be added to your opponent's score. The board will show your 'overcounted' points alongside with computer-scored points.

Five Card Cribbage

The above rules described the most popular Six Card Cribbage (6-Card cribbage). There is also a more or less wide-spread variation Five Card Cribbage

5 card Cribbage variation has the following differences from the main (6-card) variation:

  • 5 cards are dealt to each player and the undealt part of the pack is placed face down on the table.
  • The Pone is awarded 3 points at the start of the game.
  • As soon as someone reaches 61 points, that player wins the game.
  • While playing a single hand, the total pip value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31

The table set for the 5-card Cribbage variation is showing the following in the 'Points' area: 61pt. (5) which is meant to show the points (61) and the number of cards (5).


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