The Origins of Cribbage and How to Play it

The Origins of Cribbage and How to Play it

Cribbage is a challenging card game that involves two to four players. It can exceed up to 6 players (not 5). Beginners might find this card game challenging, but once they understand the game’s rules, they’re good to go! Surprisingly,  it’s a very easy game to learn.

To play this game, you require a deck of cards, a pen, paper, and a Cribbage board. But have you ever wondered how this game originated? Or, most importantly, how to play the Cribbage the right way? Read this post to get the answer. 

How Did the Game of Cribbage Originate? 

Cribbage is a popular card game that men have played for centuries. This game was invented and codified by Sir John Suckling, a British soldier in the 17th century. 

English settlers brought the game to America, where they played it in colonies. As the game only required two players, most sailors and fishers adopted this game and played to while away their time. As the game became popular, the cribbage boards with 61 or 121 holes were made using different materials. 

The Navy personnel especially enjoyed this card game during World War II. It was an unofficial game among Japanese submariners while patrolling the Japanese ships. 

How to Play the Game?

At first, Cribbage seems a little confusing, but once you understand the Cribbage online and offline rules, you can play it with anyone. You can read this section to understand how beginners play Cribbage. 

The Deal

The game begins by shuffling the cards and randomly allocating the cards to the players. The player who gets the lowest card becomes the dealer of the first round. 

Any player who is not the dealer cuts the pack after the cards are laid. Then the dealer will keep the upper card from the bottom facing upside on the top of the packet. It’s called the starter. If Jack is selected as a starter, the dealer gets two points. 

The game rule states that players cannot use the starter card right at the beginning of the game. However, it can be used later to make unique card combinations and score points. 

The Gameplay

The non-dealer turns one card upside down on the table after the starter is reversed. After that, the dealer will show their card to the non-dealer. This process continues alternately. Every player must keep the game separated. 

The players will add the last card to previously played cards and announce total running pips. The dealer has to say nine, and other players will say four, which makes thirteen. 

Each card has a value equal to its numeric value in the cribbage game. But for King, Queen, and Jack, the value is 10. 

The Go

The player of Cribbage needs to remember that the total number of playing cards must not be more than 31. If there is a situation where the player cannot add more cards without making the card count more than 31, they have to say “go.” At this point, the other play gets the point. 

After the opponent gets one point, they have to remove one of their cards without making it more than 31. If the player makes pairs and runs, they get additional points. 

If a player attains 31, they will peg 2 and not one for Go. The next round will be led by the player who asks for Go with the count starting at 0. Cribbage does not allow the players to use the previously played card and combine the lead. 

Any player who plays the last card gets the point to forgo. In addition, if the card adds up to 31, they get an extra point. 

What is Pegging?

When you are playing the game of Cribbage, you need to earn more points through the peg. Below are a few ways to do it: 

  • Players can add cards to bring a total of 15 pegs 2. 
  • If your added card and the previously played card have a similar ranking, you will peg 2. 
  • You cannot pair a face card with a non-face card. 
  • You can peg 6 by adding a third card of a similar rank. 
  • Peg 12 by adding a fourth card of the same rank. 

Counting Hands

The player counts three hands in the order when the game finishes. One is the non-dealer’s hand, the next is the dealer’s hand, and the last is the crib. The player needs to remember this order because it is possible that before the dealer counts the card, the non-dealer may win the game. 

How Does the Game End?

You can play Cribbage either for 61 points or 121 points. Once the player archives the given point, the game ends. It is important to note that the game will not move forwards if a non-dealer leaves the game first. The dealer will also not get points in their crib or hand in such a situation. 

How to Win the Game?

You can lead the first play by following the given tips to win the game:

Restrict Your Opponent’s Opportunities 

If you do not want your opponent to make more points, you must lead a card with a value less than 5. But you must keep one lower card for later when the score moves towards 31. 

Lead One Card

If you pair up your card, the opponent gets 2 points. But you can collect 6 points by playing the third card. 


Cribbage is a tricky card game that you can easily learn. You will enjoy playing this game once you understand its terms and rules. 

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