How do you play cribbage?

Basic Rules of Cribbage in 8 Easy Steps

Cribbage is a fun, challenging game that can be played with 2-4 people. Although it may seem intimidating at first, the basic game is very easy to learn and play. Your cribbage board is an easy way to keep track of your score during the game. Every time you score points, you move the back peg that many holes ahead of the front peg, leap-frogging your way around the board. These instructions are for a 2 player game, but can easily be adapted to more players.

If you wish to download a double-sided sheet with the rules, click here.

To download a neat scoring sheet that shows how to score each combination of cards, click here.

Step 1
Set-Up: Remove the jokers from the pack of cards. Each player uses two pegs for scoring. The first to lap the board twice, accumulating 121 points wins. (This often occurs in the middle of a hand; the game ends immediately.)

Step 2
The Deal: Select a dealer, maybe by drawing cards. Deal 6 cards to each player.

Step 3
The Crib: Each player looks at their 6 cards and decides which 4 to keep in his hand and which 2 to discard into a pile near the dealer called “the crib.”

Step 4
The “Cut” Card: The player who did not deal cuts the deck to determine the top card. Both players will use this card, called the “cut”, as a wild fifth card to count points at the end of the round. If this “cut” card is a Jack, the dealer gets to peg 2 points immediately. This score is called “his heels.”

Step 5
Pegging: Players alternate laying cards down in front of them, starting with the non-dealer. As they play each card, they call out the value of the total. Face cards (10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings) are worth 10 points, all others are worth their numeric value. Aces are always only worth one point. Suits do not matter in this round, only numeric values. Make sure you keep your cards in your own pile – don’t mix them together with other players’ cards.

Step 6
The Play: This continues until a player cannot lay down another card without exceeding 31. At this point, he says “Go.” If the other player can still lay down another card without exceeding 31, he must do so for as many times as necessary.

Step 7
Other Points to be Pegged: If either player reaches 15 points exactly, this earns him 2 points.

Points are also earned and pegged for pairs. For example, Player 1 lays down a 6 and Player 2 immediately follows with another 6, which would earn him 2 points. If Player 1 then lays down a third 6, he earns 6 points. The fourth sixth would be worth 12 points. (Note: if Player 2 is not able to lay down any other card without exceeding 31, and Player 1 has the fourth 6, Player 1 can lay it down and earn the 12 points.)

Sequences also score points. They must be consecutive cards, but not necessarily in order. For example: First player plays a 4, second player plays a 6. If the first player now plays a 5 he would score three points for completing a run of 3. If the second player now plays a 3 or a 7 he would then score 4 points for making a run of 4.

After “31” (or as close as possible in the hand), the person laying down the last card takes a point for having the final card. If the last card makes exactly 31, the player gets 1 additional point.

The player who calls “go” plays first in the following 31-count sequence.

Step 8
Counting up the cards: Once all cards have been played it is time to count them up. The person to count first is the non-dealer, then the dealer, then the crib. Your hand consists of the four cards you played, plus the cut card.

Any combination of cards that add up to 15 count are worth 2 points (even if it took all five cards to do it).

Pairs, triples and quadruples count, 2, 6 and 12 points, respectively.
Sequences (e.g. 6-7-8) do not have to be the same suit, and count 1 point per card. They must consist of at least three cards.

A flush (all four cards are the same suit) is worth 4 points.
The cut cannot give you a flush. It gives a fifth point if it extends a 4 card flush to a 5 card flush, but 3 spades and a heart don’t score flush points if you cut a spade.

If all four cards in the crib are the same suit, no points can be taken unless the fifth card is also that same suit. Then 5 points are pegged.

You score one point if you hold the Jack of the suit that was cut. This is known as “one for his Nibs”.

Full rules can be found at:


Last Modified: 12/13/2012