5 Fun Facts About Cribbage

If you have never heard of cribbage, you are going to need to catch up on the obsession with this favorite pastime. With bold beginnings and centuries of play, cribbage steadfastly remains one of the most popular games of all time, and it comes with an age-old debate – is it a board game or a card game? The simple answer? Both.

One of the many attractions of the game of cribbage is its portability. With a standard deck of cards and a pegging board, you can shuffle up and deal just about anywhere. In fact, cribbage is the only game permitted for legal play within pubs and clubs in Britain without requiring the permission of local authorities. Thinking about leaving your cribbage board at home during that next trip abroad? Think again.

Great Lakes wooden cribbage board

Cribbage has many loyal followers. Cribbage loyalists have handed down the love of the game from generation to generation, and many people learned to count and crave competition around the four sides of a cribbage board.

Whether they learned it on vacation at the Great Lakes or around the dining room table after dinner with friends, cribbage fans have many great things to say about the game. First and foremost, they say it is fun! 

5 Fantastically Fun Facts About Cribbage

  1. It hasn’t changed much.
  2. Scoring is just easy math.
  3. Fun phrases that roll off the tongue.
  4. You can skunk (or double skunk) someone.
  5. Cribbage boards are beautiful!

1. Cribbage Hasn’t Changed Much

Pegs in cribbage board

Since cribbage was invented in the 17th century by poet, soldier, and gambler Sir John Suckling, not much has changed about the game itself. Gameplay has always required a standard deck of cards and a pegging board for scoring points. The goal of reaching the target score of 121 has also remained the same throughout time.

Game Order Has Not Changed

  • Deal
  • Play
  • Show 

The dealer scores their hand last, and when all points have been counted, this is considered a match. The points of the match are pegged on the cribbage board and play continues by shuffling the cards and dealing another hand. 

2. Scoring Cribbage is a Great Way to Learn Math

After the cards are dealt, each player “shows” their cards – one at a time – while adding their points to the total, starting with the person at the dealer’s left. For example, if the first player lays down a five, they say “five” and then move to the next player. If the next player lays down a six, the player says “eleven” and so on.

Scoring Includes Points for:

  • Causing the count to reach exactly 15 = 2 points
  • Completing a pair = 2 points
  • Three of a kind = 6 points
  • Four of a kind = 12 points
United Kingdom cribbage board

Scoring of points continues, and pegs are moved along the cribbage board after each match. If a player reaches 121 points before another player reaches 91, they are said to have “skunked” their opponent. If the player reaches 121 points before their opponent reaches 61, that is a double skunk!

Many people who grew up in England, the Northern United States, and Canada can recall fond memories of learning to count while scoring games of cribbage as a child. The number of points counted at one time is reasonable for nurturing this skill set, and the love of competition is learned early. Imagine being the kid at the table who just counted out his first double skunk!

3. More Fun Phrases in Cribbage

Beyond skunk and double skunk, there are more fun phrases to be used during the playing and scoring of cribbage. Each phrase is said at the appropriate time to enact the desired result.

For example, “muggins” is said at the end of scoring if the dealer adds their points incorrectly, causing the opponent who called muggins to gain the points left on the table.

Other Fun Cribbage Phrases

  • One for his nob
  • One for his head
  • Pegging

4. To Skunk or Double Skunk – That is the Question

Cape Cod cribbage board

The scoring system has been in place since the game’s creation, and if double skunks are going to be allowed, it must be established at the beginning of the game. While this act of scoring has always been in place, changes in scoring can be based on the number of players. The original game included two players; however, accommodations can be made to include up to four players.

The objective of the game has always been to be the first person to get 121 points. The bonus of additional players and the ability to skunk and double skunk does not affect this scoring outcome. Even with four players, the competitive advantage remains for each player, and strategy enters the game – or is it luck?

5. Cribbage Boards are Out of This World Fun

The variety of cribbage boards available is just one part of what makes cribbage so much fun! Arriving at a cribbage match is equal part skill and swagger, comparing the artistry of each player’s cribbage board and sizing up their scoring potential.

Cribbage boards are available in basic, boring game board styles which don’t score many points for swagger. They are also available with stunning designs, including: 

Creative Cribbage Boards

Lake Tahoe cribbage board

The artistry of the player’s cribbage board is the first step of intimidation in the cribbage world. If you can distract your opponents with the nautical detail of Lake Tahoe etched into the center of your wood map cribbage board, you are one step closer to victory. Regale them with stories from your travels to the iconic lake and let the scoring slaughter begin!

One of the best fun facts about cribbage is how the game has brought families and friends together around a cribbage board for centuries. For hundreds of years, families have been scoring matches – celebrating the successes of some and teaching valuable lessons in losing to others. Generations of families have handed down the skills, cribbage boards, and fun phrases like double skunk that keep people coming back to this simple game of strategy and luck.

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