Change Up Your Cribbage Game with Fun Variations

Cribbage is an excellent game for experienced players and newbies alike. With the perfect mixture of skill and luck, it’s easy to see why so many people around the world love to play the card game.

With a game as old as cribbage, invented in the 17th century, it isn’t surprising that many people have put their own twist on the traditional game. By tweaking cribbage rules, you can find a fresh way to play and keep your opponents entertained for hours. Grab your favorite wood cribbage boards and start exploring new ways to play!

What Is Cribbage?

Ireland Cribbage Board

When you want to play a card game but you also want to play a board game, what do you reach for? Cribbage, of course! There are many reasons to pick up this popular game, including:

  • Bond with family
  • Exercise your brain
  • Make new friends
  • Have an easy, on-the-go game at the ready

Cribbage is played with a game board and a deck of cards. Good quality wood cribbage boards make all the difference when you want to play. The board is used to keep score, and each player is trying to reach 121 points to win.

A cribbage game can include two to four players. Many people use cribbage to meet new people, joining organizations like the American Cribbage Congress to participate in tournaments, learn cribbage rules, and join clubs around the country.

The History of Cribbage

While the history of the cribbage game is sometimes debated, many people believe that the card game was developed in Great Britain by Sir John Suckling, a soldier, poet, and well-known rogue in the early 1600s. His cribbage game was a variation of the then-common noddy, a game that has since conceded its popularity to cribbage.

Believe it or not, Charles Dickins contributed to the staying power of cribbage rules. He wrote about a cribbage game in his book “The Old Curiosity Shop,” solidifying the gameplay in literature.

Throughout the game's history, people of all backgrounds have enjoyed learning cribbage rules. From sailors to pub patrons, the ease of carrying wood cribbage boards and decks of cards has made cribbage an accessible game for many people worldwide to add to their recreational activities. 

What You Need to Play Cribbage

Nantucket Cribbage Board

There is not much you need to play a cribbage game. With just a few supplies, a couple of players, a grasp of the cribbage terminology, and knowledge of cribbage rules, you can start strategizing and have fun.

One attractive fact about cribbage is that you do not need a lot of supplies to play. The few things you need to play a cribbage game are:

  • Standard 52-card deck
  • Wooden cribbage boards
  • 2-4 players 

Beginners should take time to learn cribbage rules and common phrases spoken during a cribbage game. For example, a “crib” is the dealer’s extra hand formed by each player’s discard, and a “pone” is someone who is not the dealer. It might be helpful to have a glossary of cribbage terms open when playing your first few games.

What Makes a Great Wood Cribbage Board?

Wood cribbage boards are the foundation of a good game of cribbage. There are a few things you should look for when shopping for quality wood cribbage boards:

  • Sturdy pegs for scorekeeping
  • Continuous tracks
  • Storage
  • Portability
  • Style

It is imperative to have well-fitting, quality pegs to keep score accurately. Metal pegs specially designed to fit in their wood cribbage boards can relieve scorekeeping frustrations. Make sure that your board comes with storage for those pegs so that you can keep everything together.

By purchasing wood cribbage boards with storage, you will be confident in your ability to bring your board with you wherever you go. Cribbage is so popular because it is a portable game that players can bring to parks and pubs to start a game whenever they want. 

Decorating with Wood Cribbage Boards

Hawaiian Islands Cribbage Board

Searching through wood cribbage boards can be a treat when you know that your board is not just a way to defeat your opponents in a friendly game but also a tribute to your favorite vacation spot or a sentimental destination. Quality wood cribbage boards will come with a nail slot in the back to so you can proudly display your beautiful board when it’s not in use.

Consider incorporating your wood cribbage boards into your existing or planned décor. For example, if you are planning a tribute to the Great Lakes with maps of Michigan, include a cribbage board of the area. The board can live on the wall or next to the display until you take it out to play your cribbage game.

Basic Cribbage Rules

Before changing up your cribbage game, it is essential to understand the basics of traditional cribbage. Gameplay is not difficult, and games don’t take very long, so after a few rounds, you should feel confident that you know the cribbage rules.

To start, each player draws a card. The lowest card value gets to deal and receives the first crib, or extra hand. Each player is dealt six cards, and then two cards from each player go back to the crib.

When the crib is formed, the deck is cut and a card is turned up. Play starts with the non-dealer laying a card, and then the dealer lays one, adding to the total until the count reaches 31. The round restarts, and the rest of the cards are played in the same way.

Scoring of a Typical Cribbage Game

Great Lakes Cribbage Board

So, how do you win? The first player to score 121 points wins the cribbage game. There are several ways to earn points within typical cribbage rules. For example, each pair is worth two points, three of a kind is worth six points, four of a kind is worth 12 points, and if you have a run, you earn a point for every card. Keep a handy cribbage scoring chart near you to see what you have.

Wooden cribbage boards are used to keep score. As you earn points, your pegs move around the board, letting you know how close you are to victory.

There are many tricks for winning cribbage allowed within cribbage rules. Some prefer to focus on racking up points as fast as they can, but others work to prevent their opponent from earning points. While there is some luck to cribbage, knowing the cribbage rules and taking advantage of strategy can go far.

7 Ways to Shake Up Your Cribbage Game

With a game as old and as loved as cribbage, there are bound to be variations. Some variations are minor adjustments, while others change a lot of the gameplay. Either way, it is fun to change it up and try a new set of cribbage rules.

Once you have the basics down, try a variation or two of the cribbage rules to see if you can master the new rules. Keep your mind sharp, and try to outwit your opponent as you switch back and forth. It will add a new dimension to your gameplay and keep things interesting! 

1. Backwards Cribbage 

Cape Cod Cribbage Board
Looking to shake things up in your next cribbage game? Backwards cribbage — also called lowball cribbage or losing cribbage — is simply having the opposite goal than what you have in normal cribbage. In backwards cribbage, you want to score as little as possible.


Cribbage rules are still in play, but you do not want to earn points. It may sound easy, but the competition gets fierce when everyone is driving toward the same goal of losing. For example, it’s usually beneficial to be the dealer in a cribbage game, but in backwards cribbage, you run the risk of people dropping high-scoring cards in the crib.

Join in the topsy-turvy fun at your next cribbage get-together. Grab your Cape Cod wood cribbage boards and set up a game night you’ll never forget. 

2. Battlefield Cribbage

Block Island Cribbage Board

When you can’t decide whether to play cribbage, poker, or chess, it may be time to pick up battlefield cribbage. Instead of being at the mercy of the dealer, you build your hand by taking cards from a draw pile or the line.

All the cards are played in the open in battlefield cribbage, making it a game entirely based on strategy. Check out all the battlefield cribbage rules, pick out your Block Island wood cribbage boards, and start strategizing your way to victory. 

3. Captain’s Cribbage

Typical cribbage can be played by two to four players, but captain’s cribbage requires exactly three players. In this cribbage game, two players team up against the other — known as the captain — and work together to win. The captain only has to score 61 to win, and the two players working together must make 121 between them.

Each person takes turns being the captain when playing captain’s cribbage. After three games, each player counts the number of games they have won, and the person with the most wins is the ultimate winner.

Once you have found two other players, take out one of your Ireland wood cribbage boards to see who the champion will be. 

4. Cribbage Solitaire

United Kingdom Cribbage Board

Looking to refine your cribbage game? A few rounds of cribbage solitaire will give you the practice you need to take down your opponents in the future. A slight change to typical cribbage rules, you start this solo game by dealing yourself three cards, then two cards to a crib, and then three more cards to yourself. From the six cards in your hand, you will discard two to the crib, which you will score later.

The objective is similar to any other cribbage game —score as many points as possible. In cribbage solitaire, you want to see how many points you can earn going through the deck one time. Count the points in your initial hand, and then count the crib points. Continue the whole process until the deck is finished.

If you are able to pass the skunk on one of the United Kingdom wood cribbage boards, you scored 90 points and had a good game. A great game is achieved by finishing with 121 points. 

5. Speed Cribbage

Don’t have a lot of time to play? Thrown in a round of speed cribbage to get things moving. The cribbage rules don’t change much, except each player is dealt six cards in one pile and four in another. The pile of four is the speed crib. Each player still discards two cards to make an additional crib for the dealer, which gives the dealer three total hands and makes the game go quickly.

If that’s not fast enough for you, super speed crib is when each player gets 10 cards. They pick a four-card playing hand, a four-card speed crib, and two cards go to the dealer. Your Nantucket wood cribbage boards will be smoking with how fast your pegs move! 

6. Five-Card Cribbage

Lake Tahoe Cribbage Board

Another cribbage game with slight variations to typical cribbage rules, five-card cribbage is a great variation for beginners. After the deck is cut, the pone pegs three on the first hand to balance out the larger crib. The dealer gives five cards to each player, two of which are discarded to the crib. The game is played to 61 points, making it fast and fun.

One of the beautiful Lake Tahoe wood cribbage boards would be a great board to start with a five-card cribbage game. The ease of the game mimics the ease of lake life, making it a perfect complement to your board.

7. Muggins

Muggins may not be an outright variation of cribbage, but it adds to the cribbage rules to change up the game a little. It’s also called cutthroat, promising a fun and lively game for everyone.

In muggins, if someone miscounts their points, you can correct them and take any points they miss. Muggins is a great cribbage game to play if you want to refine your knowledge of cribbage scoring.

Grab one of the Hawaiian Islands wood cribbage boards and see if you can go toe to toe with the perfectionists in your life with a spirited game of muggins.

With new cribbage rules in your head and one of the gorgeous wood cribbage boards at your side, you will have a blast trying new ways to win your favorite card game. Gather your friends together for a day of cribbage chaos as you jump from one variation to another.

Older Post Newer Post