Cribbage is a very popular card game that has been with us for many years, it is so popular that in the UK there are established leagues where players compete against each other and public houses will have teams that play each other on a weekly basis. It is believed that the game was invented in the 1600's by Sir John Suckling who travelled around Europe a lot and became one of the top card players in his time. Originally this game was known as “Noddy” and no-one is sure as to why the name was changed to cribbage.
It is a very simple game to learn but there is skill involved to become good at this game, this usually comes with experience. Normally this game is played with two players but there are variations to the basic game that can include three or four players.
The object of the game is to score 121 points by making combinations of the cards in your hand but some people will play a shortened version of the game where the target is 61 points. A standard deck of playing cards is used and the cards are valued at their face value,Aces are always counted as 1 and the royal cards i.e. King, Queen and Jack always have a value of 10.
Points are normally kept on a cribbage board and are tallied by using pegs, the board consists of 4 rows of 30 holes and these are grouped into 5 holes to make scoring easier, the rows are also split so that each player has 2 rows each as the scoring will go up and down the board until the final hole or “ peg” is reached, there is an extra hole at each end of the board to peg the winning point. Scoring is kept on the board by each player using two pegs and these are alternated each time a score is attained. If you don't have a cribbage board the scores can just as easily be kept by open and paper.
At the start of every game the cards are shuffled and then both players will cut the pack, the player cutting the lowest card will become the first dealer and after this the players will take it in turn to deal the cards. If the cut is a tie, the cards are cut again, the player who loses the cut then proceeds to add three points onto his score as a compensation for not dealing but this can only be done once at the start of the game.
The dealer then deals 6 cards to himself and the other player, the players then both study their cards and place two of these face down into a separate pile, this is known as the “crib” and is basically an extra hand at the end of each game for the dealer to make points from. Depending on whether you are the dealer or not can make a big decision as to which cards you place into the crib, the dealer will often place a pair in there to guarantee some points whilst the non-dealer will place two cards that are no use to him or are not likely to give the dealer any points.
Once all of the 6 cards have been dealt and the cards have been placed into the crib the pack is cut again and the top card of the cut is placed face upwards on top of the deck, this card does not come into play until the end of the game but if a Jack is cut from the pack the dealer is awarded a bonus point which he pegs straight away.
Now play commences and the dealer places one card face up and shouts out the value, the other player then lays down one of his cards and shouts out the value of the sum of the cards played, this continues with each player laying their cards alternately until a value of 31 is reached, if the player cannot lay a card without going over 31 he has to forfeit his turn and the other player can play again. If a score of 31 is reached the player that laid the final card receives a point on the peg board. If 31 cannot be reached then no points are given and the deal is over.
Scoring may seem a bit complicated at first but it is really very simple.
As the players lay their cards trying to reach a total of 31 scoring can be achieved during play. As the cards are laid if one player can make a total sum of 15 he will then receive a point for this.
If a player can match a card that has been laid, that player will receive 2 points for a matching pair, if the other player then lays another matching card he will receive 6 points for a triple and if the opposite play has the fourth matching card he will receive 12 points for a quartet.
Once each round is completed the players will then look at the cards that they were dealt with to begin scoring again. They have four cards in their hand plus the card that was placed on to of the pack to use for additional scores which can be achieved by having these combinations:-
Each card can be used repeatedly to make the different combinations, flushes do not count during actual play only when working out the combinations afterwards.
The winner is declared when he has pegged 121 points, this does not have to be exact and her can go over this figure, as soon as the total is reached the other player does not add on his scores.
Deciding which cards to place in the crib often wins you the game, if you are the dealer place cards in the crib that will score you points, the non-dealer should place cards in the crib that are hopefully no use to him or the dealer.
When laying the leading card keep it low, this will prevent your opponent from having the chance of getting a 15 straight away.
If you are near to reaching the final score of 121 keep low cards in your hand that will allow you to score small points to creep to the end of the peg board, if you are behind and need to make a lot of points then you may have to rely on the fifth card at the end of each round to give you more combinations.
As mentioned above with experience, this game will become a skill to yourself and will give you hours of enjoyment!