Six Card Cribbage

Cribbage is traditionally supposed to have been invented in the early 17th Century. It is basically a game for two players, though adaptations for 4 players in fixed partnerships, and for 3 players also exist.

Two players using a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank K(high) Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A(low).

Object

To be the first to score 121 points accumulated over several deals. Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occurring during the play or occurring in a player's hand or in the cards discarded before the play, which form the "crib".

Deal

Cut cards to determine who deals first. The player cutting the lower card deals. The other player is called Pone. Subsequently the turn to deal alternates.

The dealer shuffles, non-dealer cuts the cards, and dealer deals 6 cards to each player one at a time. The undealt part of the pack is placed face down on the table.

Each player must choose two cards to discard face down to form the "crib". These four cards are set aside until the end of the hand. Any card combinations in the crib will count for the dealer, so non-dealer will try to throw cards that are unlikely to make valuable combinations.

Start Card

The non-dealer cuts the pack of undealt cards, lifting the upper part without showing its bottom card. The dealer takes out the top card of the lower part, turns it face up and, after non-dealer replaces the upper part, places it face up on top of the pack. This turned up card is called the "start" card.

If the start card is a jack, the dealer immediately scores 2 points - this is called "two for nobs".

Play of the cards

Starting with the non-dealer, the players take turns to play a single card face up in front of them. In this stage of the game the total pip value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31. The pip values of the cards are:

Ace = 1; 2 to 10 = face value; jack = 10; queen = 10; king = 10.

As each card is played, the player announces the running total. If a card is played which makes the pip total exactly 31, the player scores two points and the score is reset to zero.

A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play a card but says "Go". If your opponent says "Go" then you may continues playing cards and scoring for any combinations you make (see below). If you bring the total to exactly 31 you score 2 points as above, otherwise you receive 1 point for playing the last card.

Play may end at a total lower than 31, either because both players have played all their cards or because all cards left in the players' hands have pip values so high that they would take the total over 31 if played. In these cases whichever player was the last to play a card scores 1 point for "last card". At this point, the score is reset to zero and play resumes with the player who least recently played a card playing the first card. Play proceeds until each player has played all four of his cards.

Scoring during the play

A player who makes any of the following scores during the play scores them immediately.

15:
If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you score two points ("Fifteen two")
31:
As mentioned above if you play a card which brings the total to exactly 31 you score 2 points.
Pair:
If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card (e.g. a king after a king) you score 2 points for a pair. Note that (for example) a 10 and a queen do NOT make a pair even though they are both worth 10 points.
Three of a Kind:
If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rank is played, the player of the third card scores 6 for "three of a kind".
Four of a Kind:
Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession. The player of the fourth card scores 12.
Run:
A "run" or "sequence" is a set of 3 or more cards of consecutive ranks (irrespective of suit) - such as 9-10-jack or 2-3-4-5. Note that ace is low so for example ace-king-queen is not a run. The player of a card which completes a run scores for the run; the score is equal to the number of cards in the run. The cards do not have to be played in order, but no other cards must intervene.
Example: cards are played in the following order: 4-2-3-5-6. The player of the 3 scores 3 for a run, then the player of the 5 scores 4, and the player of the 6 scores 5.
Another example: 4-2-3-4-3. The player of the first 3 scores 3 for the run 4-2-3. Then the player of the second 4 score 3 for the run 2-3-4. The player of the second 3 scores nothing because the 3 does not complete a run.
Last Card:
If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoever played the last card scores 1 point.

The Show

Players now score for combinations of cards held in hand. First the non-dealer's hand is exposed, and scored. The start card also counts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted.

15:
Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points. For example seven, king, jack, five, five would count 8 points (four fifteens as the king and the jack can each be paired with either five). You would say "Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, fifteen eight).
Pair:
A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points. Three cards of the same rank contain 3 different pairs and thus score a total of 6 points for "three of a kind". Four of a kind contain 6 pairs and so score 12 points.
Run:
Three cards of consecutive rank (irrespective of suit), such as ace-2-3, score 3 points for a run. A hand such as 6-7-7-8-10 contains two runs of 3 (as well as two fifteens and a pair) and so would score 12 altogether. A run of four cards, such as 9-10-J-Q scores 4 points. This is slightly illogical - you might expect it to score 6 because it contains two runs of 3, but it doesn't. The runs of 3 within it don't count -you just get 4.
Flush:
If all four cards of the hand are the same suit, 4 points are scored for flush. If the start card is the same suit as well, the flush is worth 5 points. There is no score for having 3 hand cards and the starter all the same suit. Note also that there is no score for flush during the play - it only counts in the show.
One For His Nob:
If the hand contains the jack of the same suit as the start card, score 1 extra point.

Note that when scoring a hand, the same card may be counted and scored as part of several different combinations. For example if your hand is 7 8 8 Q and the start card is a 9 you score "fifteen 2, fifteen 4, and a pair is 6, and a run is 9 and a run is 12" - 12 points to score, with each of your 8s forming part of a fifteen, a pair and a run.

After non-dealer's hand has been shown and scored, dealer's hand is shown and scored in the same way. Finally the dealer exposes the four cards of the crib and scores them with the start card. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands.

Winning the game

As soon as someone reaches 121 points, that player wins the game. This can happen at any point - during the play or the show, or even by dealer scoring "two for nobs". Note that it is not necessary to reach 121 exactly - for example if you overshoot by scoring 2 more points when you had 120 you still win.

This page was originally created for five card cribbage by John McLeod (john@pagat.demon.co.uk). It has been updated for six card cribbage by John Paxton.

Last updated 14 September 1995