Cribbage is my favourite card game. It is a two player game, but can be played with three players. The modifications for a three-player game are listed at the end of the rules.
- one deck of cards – no jokers
- materials for score-keeping
Choose a player to deal first. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals out six cards each – face down. Place the rest of the deck face down between the two players. Both players look at their cards and choose two cards to put in the “kitty.” The kitty is an extra hand that goes to the dealer. The cards of the kitty should be face down and off to the side. The non-dealer then cuts the deck, and the dealer flips the top card of the lower half. Put the deck back together and set this card face up on top. This card will count towards your hands. It does not count towards pegging. If the dealer happens to flip a black jack, he/she gets one point. Record all points on a piece of paper or score board. You are going to 120 points.
Each round consists of three scoring sections: pegging, counting up hands, counting up the kitty.
Pegging: the non-dealer leads. Set down a card face up in front of yourself. The dealer then sets down a card face up in front of her/himself. State the running total as you place a card. You are going up to 31 points, and then start over from zero if you have remaining cards in your hand. Record any points attained during pegging as you go. See below for scoring details.
Non-dealer: places a queen and says “ten”
Dealer: places a 5 and says “fifteen” – records two points for bringing the total to fifteen
Non-dealer: places a 5 and says “twenty” – records two points for the pair
Dealer: places an 8 and says “twenty eight”
Non-dealer: says “go” (see below) – dealer records one point for the “go”
Dealer: places a 3 and says “thirty one” – records two points for equaling thirty one
Non-dealer: starts over from zero
Scoring During Pegging (note that a face card is worth ten and an ace is worth one)
- 15: creating a current total of fifteen when you place a card (2 points)
- 31: creating a current total of thirty one when you place a card (2 points)
- a pair: matching the number/face of your opponent’s current card (2 points)
- three of a kind: three matching cards are played in a row and yours is the third card (6 points)
- a run: a minimum of three consecutive numbers/faces are played in a row and yours is the last card of the run (1 point for each card in the run)
- go: it is your turn and you cannot play a card that will make a total that is less than or equal to 31. You say “go,” your opponent receives a point, and then your opponent plays a card that either continues toward a total of thirty one or starts over from zero.
Counting up the hands: each player reveals his/her hand and outlines the points that it is worth. Record those points. The non-dealer goes first. This order will matter once you get closer to the 120 point goal.
The flipped card on the deck is a five of hearts (5H).
Your hand: 6C, 7D, 8C, JH
JH matches the suit of the flipped card (5H): 1 point
JH and 5H make fifteen: 2 points
7D and 8C make fifteen: 2 points
5H, 6C, 7D, and 8C make a run of four: 4 points
Your total: 9 points
Scoring Hands and the Kitty
- each way of getting a total of fifteen is 2 points (10-5, Q-5, 9-6, 7-7-ace, etc.)
- a pair is 2 points
- three of a kind is 6 points (because it is made up of three pairs)
- a run is one point for each card in the run (a minimum of three)
- if you have a jack in your hand that matches the suit of the flipped card, you receive one point
Counting up the kitty: the dealer reveals the kitty and outlines the points that it is worth. Record those points.
Collect the cards and repeat these steps. The non-dealer of the first round is now the dealer of the next round.
- “three in a row” during pegging: does order matter? You must decide for yourselves. I say “yes,” and Parker says “no.”
Three-Player Cribbage: a three-player game is the same as a two-player game with a couple of modifications:
- deal five cards to each player and one to the kitty
- each player discards one card to the kitty instead of two
- the person to the left of the dealer cuts the deck, leads the pegging round and counts up his/her hand first
- clockwise order for pegging, counting up hands and moving on to the next dealer