Have you ever wanted to play cribbage but didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re looking for a new game to play with a friend and thought cribbage, with its unique wood cribbage board and fun scoring system, sounded interesting. Whatever the case, cribbage is a fun game worth learning and playing with friends.
Cribbage has a long history, but its charm has remained strong. The game has mostly stayed the same in the centuries it has existed, and it remains a beloved game for people worldwide.
Why Should You Play Cribbage?
Cribbage is an easy game to pick up. A fast-paced card game that involves both skill and luck, cribbage can be an excellent game for both new players and seasoned competitors.
The game was developed in the 1600s and likely came from an earlier game called Noddy. It is popular all over the world, and an estimated 10 million people in the United States play cribbage.
You only need two players to play cribbage, but the game can be modified to accommodate up to four. This flexibility has added to the game’s staying power.
Cribbage Words to Know
Muggins! No, you didn’t accidentally find yourself in a Harry Potter story. The terminology used to play cribbage may take some time to get used to, but once you understand it, you’ll be able to play confidently.
Some examples of these terms are:
- Muggings — when a player can take points their opponent misses
- Pone — the player who is not the dealer. After each hand, the dealer and the pone switch, and the game continues.
- Skunk — victory by 31 or more points.
- Crib —discarded cards that form an extra hand that is scored at the end of the round.
It might be helpful to have a glossary of cribbage terms the first few times you play until you are used to the words of the game.
What Will You Need to Play Cribbage?
- A standard 52-card pack
- A wood cribbage board
Once you have these items in place, you can start playing your new favorite game.
What Is a Wood Cribbage Board?
The cribbage board is a rectangular wood board with 121 holes. The board is used to keep score during the game, which is one of the unique attributes of this card game.
A good-quality wood cribbage board will have storage for the pegs used to keep score during gameplay.
The board doesn’t just have to be for the utility of the game. A wood cribbage board can be a work of art. This can be a beautiful addition to your own home or a special gift to your favorite cribbage opponent.
Once you’ve picked out your wood cribbage board and have your supplies, you are ready to play cribbage. Each player places two pegs of the same color at the start of the track. The dealer deals six cards to each player and then places the deck on the table. Players are then able to look at their cards and choose two cards to discard, and this discard forms the crib.
The pone player then cuts the deck. The top card on the lower part of the cut is the start card, which is placed face up so everyone can see. The pone player takes the first turn, putting a card from their hand on the table and clearly stating the card’s value to start the count for the round. Numbered cards hold that number value, face cards have a value of ten, and aces have a value of one.
Players then take turns playing cards and adding to the total point value (ex: if the pone player starts with a two, they’ll say, “two,” and then when the dealer plays a seven, they’ll say, “nine,” adding up the total). The total must not go over 31, and when a player can no longer place a card, they say, “Go.” Once no one can place a card down without going over 31, the cards are flipped over, and the process starts again until the cards are gone.
How Do You Win Cribbage?
The ultimate goal of cribbage is to score 121 points.
You earn points when you play cribbage by making card combinations:
- Cards totaling precisely 15: 2 points
- Pair: 2 points
- Three of a kind: 6 points
- Four of a kind: 12 points
- Run: 1 point for each card
- Flush: 4 points
- Flush with the start card in the same suit: 5 points
- Jack that’s in the same suit as the start card: 1 point
At the end of each round, players count their points — the dealer counting the crib as well — and move their pegs on the wood cribbage board to track how many points they earned. The peg furthest along on a player’s track shows the current score, while the previous peg shows the previous score.
Is a Wood Cribbage Board Good for Anything Else?
Part of any friendly game’s fun is the conversation around the gameplay. You won’t have to look any further than your wood cribbage board for a conversation starter when you invest in a striking board.
Perhaps your wood cribbage board highlights your Italian vacation. While waiting for your partner to make a move, you can point out where you visited the Tower of Pisa on your Italy Cribbage Board. Or, while setting up your Gulf of Mexico Cribbage Board, point out your favorite beach destinations. Or, if you’ve always dreamed of going to Hawaii, you can even spark your own wanderlust and have friends point out favorite destinations on your Hawaiian Islands Cribbage Board.
When a wood cribbage board is elegantly crafted, it doesn’t have to hide in a cabinet when game time is over. A quality wood cribbage board can be beautiful and stay on a coffee table or hung on the wall as a conversation piece highlighting your favorite game and places, even when you are not playing.
Now You Know How to Play Cribbage – What’s Next?
Once you’ve learned the basics and have discovered you love the game, there are opportunities to play cribbage at higher levels. The American Cribbage Congress sponsors hundreds of tournaments each year throughout North America. Winners can earn accolades such as Master Rating Points, trophies, and even cash awards.
Whether you are going for gold in tournament play or just want to casually learn a new game to play with friends, learning how to play cribbage can be a great new hobby. Take your time to learn the basics and see where the game takes you.