How to play Cribbage for dummies. This guide explains the Cribbage Rules in simple steps.
What is the object of 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.
Players select colour and place pegs
Each player selects a colour and places their pegs in their starting tracks on the cribbage board.
Dealer deals cards
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.
When a player scores points, they move their peg forward the number of holes as indicated by the points.
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.
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
Quick steps on how to play Cribbage. 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.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Starting player plays a card in front of them and calls out the point value.
Next clockwise player plays a card to the pile in front of them, adds the point value of their played card, and calls out the RUNNING TOTAL. This continues to the next player. The running total can never exceed 31. Players score during play when they hit specific card combinations.
When a player players a card and takes the total to 31, they score 2 points. Played cards are turned over, and the next player begins a new play.
When a player cannot play without the running total going above 31, that player says, “go”.
The remaining players carry on until each player cannot play without taking the total above 31. When no player can play any card without taking the total above 31, the player who laid the last card scores 1 point. If the player takes the total to exactly 31, they score 2 points instead.
Next, turn over the cards already played, and the next player starts with the count starting at zero again.
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.
Add a 4th card of the same rank. Score 12.
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.)
When one player’s cards are exhausted, the other players continue all their cards are exhausted. The last card played scores 1 “for last” (unless the amount is 31 in which case 2 points are scored).
Each player, starting with the player on the dealer’s left, take back their played cards and score their hand of cards.
Dealer scores last and score their hand (including the Starter) and then score the Crib (including the Starter).
Each player makes as many combinations as possible for scoring.
Cribbage Hand Scoring combinations
Combinations of cards that add up to 15 score 2 points per combo.
Pairs score the same as Scoring during play.
Runs score like Scoring during play with extra points for double, triple and quadruple runs.
Flush (4 cards of same suit) scores 4 points.
5 cards of the same suit scores 5 points.
Jack of the same suit as the Starter scores 1 point.
First player or team to travel along their path and score 121 points wins.
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.
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.
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.