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Cribbage 101: Learn the Rules and Download a Free Guide

How to Play Cribbage: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Cribbage is a classic card game that has been enjoyed by millions of people for centuries. It is a game of skill, strategy, and luck that can be played by two or more players. Whether you are new to cribbage or want to refresh your memory, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to play cribbage, from the basics to the advanced tips.

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What is Cribbage and Why Should You Play It?

Cribbage is a card game that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations to gain points. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck and a special board with holes and pegs to keep track of the score. The goal of the game is to be the first player to reach 121 points by scoring points during the play and for making various card combinations in your hand and in the crib.

The History and Origin of Cribbage

Cribbage was invented by Sir John Suckling, a British poet and knight, in the early 17th century. He based it on an older game called Noddy, which used a wooden board with knobs for scoring. Suckling modified the rules and added features such as the crib, the starter card, and the flush. He also designed the cribbage board with two rows of 30 holes each, divided into five sections of six holes each. The game became popular among English nobility and spread across the world through British colonization.

The Benefits and Challenges of Cribbage

Cribbage is a game that offers many benefits and challenges for players of all ages and skill levels. Some of the benefits are:

  • It improves your mental math skills, as you have to add, subtract, multiply, and divide card values quickly and accurately.

  • It enhances your memory and concentration, as you have to remember the cards played, keep track of the score, and plan your moves ahead.

  • It develops your strategic thinking and decision making, as you have to choose which cards to play, discard, or keep in your hand or in the crib.

  • It fosters your social skills and communication, as you have to interact with your opponent, follow the etiquette, and use the cribbage terminology.

  • It provides you with fun and entertainment, as you can enjoy a friendly competition, challenge yourself, or relax with a casual game.

Some of the challenges are:

  • It requires you to learn and master the rules, which can be complex and confusing at first.

  • It involves a lot of luck, as you have to depend on the cards you are dealt, the starter card, and the cards in the crib.

  • It demands you to be alert and attentive, as you have to avoid making mistakes, missing points, or breaking the rules.

  • It challenges you to adapt and improvise, as you have to deal with different situations, opponents, and strategies.

Cribbage is a game that can be easy to learn but hard to master. It takes practice, patience, and perseverance to become a good cribbage player. But once you do, you will find it rewarding and enjoyable.

What You Need to Play Cribbage

To play cribbage, you need the following items:

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The Cribbage Board and Pegs

The cribbage board is a wooden or plastic board with holes arranged in two rows of 30 each for each player, plus two extra holes for holding the pegs. The board also has a separate section with four holes for keeping track of the game count. The pegs are small metal or plastic pins that are used to mark the score on the board. Each player has two pegs of a different color from their opponent. One peg is used to show the current score and the other is used to show the previous score.

The Deck of Cards

The deck of cards is a standard 52-card deck with four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Each suit has 13 cards: ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, jack, queen, and king. The ace is the lowest card and the king is the highest card in cribbage. The jack, queen, and king are called face cards and have a value of 10 points each. The ace has a value of one point and the other cards have their face value.

The Scoring Chart

The scoring chart is a table that shows the different ways of scoring points in cribbage. It lists the card combinations that can make 15 points, pairs, runs, flushes, nobs, and his nobs. It also shows the number of points for each combination and some examples. You can use the scoring chart as a reference or a cheat sheet when playing cribbage. You can find many versions of the scoring chart online or print your own from a reliable source.

How to Set Up and Start a Game of Cribbage

To set up and start a game of cribbage, you need to follow these steps:

How to Choose the Dealer and Cut the Cards

The first thing you need to do is to decide who will be the dealer for the first round. You can do this by any random method, such as tossing a coin, drawing straws, or cutting the cards. To cut the cards, each player takes a card from the shuffled deck and places it face up on the table. The player with the lowest card becomes the dealer. If two or more players have the same card value, they cut again until there is a clear winner. The dealer shuffles the deck again and offers it to their opponent (called the pone) to cut. The pone cuts the deck by lifting off a portion of it and placing it next to the rest of the deck.

How to Deal and Discard Cards into the Crib

The dealer deals six cards face down to each player, one at a time, starting with their opponent. Each player looks at their cards and chooses two cards to discard face down into a pile called the crib. The crib belongs to the dealer and will be used later to score points. The crib should have four cards after both players have discarded their cards. The remaining four cards in each player's hand are called their hand.

How to Cut and Reveal the Starter Card

The pone takes the remaining deck (called the stock) and cuts it again by lifting off a portion of it. The dealer takes the top card from the lower portion and places it face up on top of the stock. This card is called the starter card or the cut and is used for scoring points in the hands and the crib. If the starter card is a jack, the dealer scores two points immediately and announces "two for his heels". The dealer then places the stock face down next to the board, out of play.

How to Play and Score Points in Cribbage

The play and the scoring of points in cribbage are done in three stages: the play, the show, and the count. Each stage has its own rules and methods of scoring points.

How to Play Cards and Announce the Total

The play is the first stage of cribbage, where the players take turns playing cards from their hands and announcing the running total of their card values. The pone starts by playing any card from their hand face up on the table and announcing its value. For example, if they play a 5, they say "five". The dealer then plays any card from their hand face up on the table and adds its value to the previous total and announces the new total. For example, if they play a 6, they say "eleven". This continues until one of the players cannot play a card without making the total more than 31 or unti


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