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How to play Cribbage Rules to get started fast

This guide explains the Cribbage Rules in simple steps.

What is the object of Cribbage?

How to play Cribbage

The goal is to score 121 points first. Players earn points for playing and combining cards. Scores are tracked with a cribbage board instead of pencils and paper.

Cribbage Game Setup

Select a player to be the dealer. Pick a card from the deck, and highest card is the dealer.
Each player selects a colour and places their pegs in their starting tracks on the cribbage board.

Cribbage Rules for 2
The dealer deals 6 cards to each player.

Cribbage Rules for 3
The dealer deals 5 cards to each player. Players look at their hand and discard 1 card to the crib.

Cribbage Rules for 4
Players split into teams of 2 and sit opposite one another. The dealer deals 5 cards to each player. Players look at their hands and discard 1 card to the crib.

Players discard cards to the Crib
Set an area close to the Dealer to be The Crib. All cards discarded to the Crib are placed face-down. The Crib belongs to the dealer and is not used until a hand has been played.

2 player game: Players discard 2 cards from their hand to the crib.
3 and 4 player game: Players discard 1 card from their hand to the crib.

Scoring Points

When a player scores points, they move their peg forward the number of holes as indicated by the points.

The Starter

Cribbage 1
  • The player on the dealer’s left cuts the remaining cards (split the deck).
  • The dealer turns over the top card of the lower portion of the cut deck and places it on top of the whole deck.
  • The Faceup card is called the Starter and is not used while the hand is played.
Cribbage 2

Dealer scores 2 points if the starter is a Jack and moves their peg ahead 2 holes on the track. Dealer does this before playing their hand.

Point Value of Cards

Face Cards: 10 points, Ace: 1 point, Other cards: Face value of the card.

Step-by-Step How to Play Cribbage Rules

How to play Cribbage - player actions
  • The player on the dealer’s left starts a round by playing a card, and the play continues clockwise.
  • Each round comprises two scoring phases: Scoring during play and Scoring of hands.
  • Scoring during play occurs when players play cards from their hand and form scoring combinations with the current played cards.
  • Scoring of hands occurs when all possible hands have been played by all players.

Cribbage Gameplay

  • Starting player plays a card and calls out the value
  • Next player plays a card. adds the point value and calls out running total. This continues to next player.
  • The running total can never exceed 31 and players score during play when they hit specific card combinations
  • Taking the running total to 31
    • Score 2 points if your played card takes the running total to 31. Played cards are turned over, and the next player begins a new play.
  • Player calls ‘GO’ when they cannot play a card without going over 31
  • The remaining players continue until they each call “GO”
    • When no player can play any card without taking the total above 31, the player who laid the last card scores 1 point. If any time a player takes the total to exactly 31, they score 2 points and next player begins new play.

Scoring during play

When taking turns to play cards, players score points based on the following combinations and events.

Last person to play card and running total is less than 31
Score 1 point

Last person to play card and running total is equal to 31
Score 2 points

Played a card that makes the running total 15. Score 2.

Add a card of the same rank as the most recently played card (e.g. Jack with Jack). Score 2.

Add a 3rd card of the same rank. Score 6.

Double Pair
Add a 4th card of the same rank. Score 12.

Runs (Sequence)
Adding a card that forms a running sequence with the cards recently played.

Sequence of 3
Move your peg 3 holes.

Sequence of 4
Move your peg 4 holes.

Sequence of 5
Move your peg 5 holes.

Score an additional point for every extra card of sequence.
Runs are independent of suits, but go strictly by rank; to illustrate: 9, 10, J, or J, 9, 10 is a run but 9, 10, Q is not.)

Sequence scoring during play

What are the scoring rules for Cribbage?

The dealer may score additional points at the start if the starter card is a Jack. Players play cards and score points based on combinations played during play. Once all cards have been played, all players gather their played hands and score their hands.

What are 4 fives worth in Cribbage?

4 fives are worth 20 points. Double pairs are worth 12 points. You can form 4 combinations of 15, giving you an additional 8 points.

How many points do you get for pulling a Jack in Cribbage?

If the player is the Dealer, they score 2 points if the starter is a Jack and moves their peg ahead 2 holes on the track. Dealer does this before playing their hand.

Play Cribbage online at the following links:

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