Rules of Card Games: Six card cribbage (2023)

Cribbage is traditionally supposed to have been invented in theearly 17th Century. It is basically a game for two players, thoughadaptations for 4 players in fixed partnerships, and for 3 playersalso exist.

Two players using a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank K(high)Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A(low).


To be the first to score 121 points accumulated over several deals.Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occurringduring the play or occurring in a player's hand or in the cardsdiscarded before the play, which form the "crib".

(Video) How to play Cribbage


Cut cards to determine who deals first. The player cutting thelower card deals. The other player is called Pone. Subsequently the turn to deal alternates.

The dealer shuffles, non-dealer cuts the cards, and dealerdeals 6 cards to each player one at a time. The undealt part ofthe pack is placed face down on the table.


Each player must choose two cards to discard face down to formthe "crib". These four cards are set aside until theend of the hand. Any card combinations in the crib will countfor the dealer, so non-dealer will try to throw cards that areunlikely to make valuable combinations.

(Video) How To Play Cribbage (2 players)

Start Card

The non-dealer cuts the pack of undealt cards, lifting the upperpart without showing its bottom card. The dealer takes out thetop card of the lower part, turns it face up and, after non-dealerreplaces the upper part, places it face up on top of the pack.This turned up card is called the "start" card.

If the start card is a jack, the dealer immediately scores 2 points- this is called "two for nobs".

Play of the cards

Starting with the non-dealer, the players take turns to play asingle card face up in front of them. In this stage of the gamethe total pip value of the cards played by both players must notexceed 31. The pip values of the cards are:

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Ace = 1; 2 to 10 = face value; jack = 10; queen = 10; king = 10.

As each card is played, the player announces the running total.If a card is played which makes the pip total exactly 31, theplayer scores two points and the score is reset to zero.

A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play acard but says "Go". If your opponent says "Go"then you may continues playing cards and scoring for any combinationsyou make (see below). If you bring the total to exactly 31 youscore 2 points as above, otherwise you receive 1 point for playingthe last card.

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Play may end at a total lower than 31, either because both playershave played all their cards or because all cards left in the players'hands have pip values so high that they would take the total over31 if played. In these cases whichever player was the last toplay a card scores 1 point for "last card".At this point, the score is reset to zero and playresumes with the player who least recently played a cardplaying the first card. Play proceeds until each player hasplayed all four of his cards.

Scoring during the play

A player who makes any of the following scores during the playscores them immediately.

If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you scoretwo points ("Fifteen two")
As mentioned above if you play a card which brings the totalto exactly 31 you score 2 points.
If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card (e.g.a king after a king) you score 2 points for a pair. Note that(for example) a 10 and a queen do NOT make a pair even thoughthey are both worth 10 points.
Three of a Kind:
If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rankis played, the player of the third card scores 6 for "three of akind".
Four of a Kind:
Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession.The player of the fourth card scores 12.
A "run" or "sequence" is a set of 3 ormore cards of consecutive ranks (irrespective of suit) - suchas 9-10-jack or 2-3-4-5. Note that ace is low so for example ace-king-queenis not a run. The player of a card which completes a run scoresfor the run; the score is equal to the number of cards in therun. The cards do not have to be played in order, but no othercards must intervene.
Example: cards are played in the following order:4-2-3-5-6. The player of the 3 scores 3 for a run, then the playerof the 5 scores 4, and the player of the 6 scores 5.
Another example: 4-2-3-4-3. The player of thefirst 3 scores 3 for the run 4-2-3. Then the player of the second4 score 3 for the run 2-3-4. The player of the second 3 scoresnothing because the 3 does not complete a run.
Last Card:
If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoeverplayed the last card scores 1 point.

The Show

Players now score for combinations of cards held in hand. Firstthe non-dealer's hand is exposed, and scored. The start card alsocounts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All validscores from the following list are counted.

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Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points.For example seven, king, jack, five, five would count 8 points (fourfifteens as the king and the jack can each be paired with eitherfive). You would say "Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteensix, fifteen eight).
A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points. Three cardsof the same rank contain 3 different pairs and thus score a totalof 6 points for "three of a kind". Four of a kind contain6 pairs and so score 12 points.
Three cards of consecutive rank (irrespective of suit), suchas ace-2-3, score 3 points for a run. A hand such as 6-7-7-8-10 containstwo runs of 3 (as well as two fifteens and a pair) and so wouldscore 12 altogether. A run of four cards, such as 9-10-J-Q scores4 points. This is slightly illogical - you might expect it toscore 6 because it contains two runs of 3, but it doesn't. Theruns of 3 within it don't count -you just get 4.
If all four cards of the hand are the same suit, 4 pointsare scored for flush. If the start card is the same suit as well,the flush is worth 5 points. There is no score for having 3 handcards and the starter all the same suit. Note also that thereis no score for flush during the play - it only counts in theshow.
One For His Nob:
If the hand contains the jack of the same suit as the startcard, score 1 extra point.

Note that when scoring a hand, the same card may be counted andscored as part of several different combinations. For exampleif your hand is 7 8 8 Q and the start card is a 9 you score "fifteen2, fifteen 4, and a pair is 6, and a run is 9 and a run is 12"- 12 points to score, with each of your 8s forming part of a fifteen,a pair and a run.

After non-dealer's hand has been shown and scored, dealer'shand is shown and scored in the same way. Finally thedealer exposes the four cards of the crib and scores them withthe start card. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands.

Winning the game

As soon as someone reaches 121 points, that player wins the game.This can happen at any point - during the play or the show, oreven by dealer scoring "two for nobs". Note thatit is not necessary to reach 121 exactly - for example if you overshootby scoring 2 more points when you had 120 you still win.

(Video) How To Play Cribbage for Beginners - SUPER SIMPLE LESSON

This page was originally created for five card cribbage by John McLeod ( It has been updated for six card cribbage byJohn Paxton.
Last updated 14 September 1995


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