How To Play Cribbage

The rules of cribbage are simple to learn. You'll need a deck of card, a cribbage board, and two players.

  • Draw cards to discover who goes first; low card starts. The dealer gives six cards to both players.
  • Decide which two cards you want to add to the kitty. In the game of cribbage, the kitty is an extra hand of cards which gives extra points to the dealer.
  • You want to have cards that total 15 points, pairs, and runs of three or a flush.

Pegging a Hand

  • The person who did not deal splits the deck of cards. The dealer turns the next card in the pile face up. This card becomes the fifth card in everyone’s hand. Once this card is revealed, the round begins.
  • The person who did not deal lays down one card. The current player gets 2 points if they reach 15 or get a pair. They'll get three points for runs of three or four for runs of four.
  • If you reach 31 points exactly, you also get to move your peg forward two points, but you can't go over 31 points. When a player cannot lay a card because it goes higher than 31, he must say, “go.” The next player can either reach 31 and take two points or take one point for the go and the card count begins again at zero.
  • The last player to lay a card in one round gets one point for “last card.”

Counting Hands

  • At the end of a pegging round, the dealer goes last. Count the four cards in your hand plus the upturned card on the deck.
  • Start with fifteens.  These are worth two points for each occurrence. Pairs are two points each. Runs count one point per card in that straight or run, and flushes are four points for the flush of four cards. Note that in the kitty hand, the flush must match the upturned card to earn the points for a flush.

Imagine the player’s hand looks like this: jack of hearts, king of hearts, queen of hearts, five of hearts and the upturned card is a jack of diamonds.

  • Jack + Five = fifteen-two
  • King + Five = fifteen-four
  • Queen + Five = fifteen-six
  • Jack/Diamonds + Five = fifteen-eight

That’s eight points so far. Now you would count the straights/runs:

  • Jack + Queen + King = 3 points
  • Jack + Queen + King = 3 points

You get four points for the flush in your hand (unless as mentioned this is the kitty hand).

  • Now the pair of Jacks = 2 points.
  • When you’re done counting out this example, you will see that you have a total of 20 points. Move your peg forward 20 holes.
  • If a Jack in your dealt hand matches the suit on the upturned card sitting on the deck, gain a point for that “right faced jack.”

Starting the Next Pegging Round

When both players have counted and pegged, the cards are shuffled and dealt by the next player who then gets the kitty for this round. Play continues following the aforementioned rules until one player has completed the board.


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