# Cribbage

## Game rules

Cribbage is an Anglo-Saxon and Canadian game played with a 52 cards deck, which mixes chance and strategy during two different game phases. Classic cribbage is played with two players face to face, but it can also be played with 4 players in teams of 2 (partnership cribbage). Playroom also allows games with 3, 4, 5 or 6 players, either in teams or individually. Rules described right below concern the two players game; the minor modifications needed for a game with more players follow further down.

The winner of the game is the first to reach a defined score, by default 121 points. Games in 61, 91 or 241 points are also common for shorter or longer sessions.

Historically, Cribbage is played on a board with 120 small holes, allowing small tokens to be put into them. This permitted to mark the score of the players. Traditionally, the first who goes out of the board, by marking his 121st point, wins and immediately stops the game without waiting for the end of the round.

### Deal

The dealer deals 6 cards to each player one by one, then everyone discards two cards among the 6. The four cards thus discarded by both players together make the aside called *crib*. The latter stays concealed up to the second phase of the game, in which the points contained in it will be given to the dealer.

Additionally to dealt cards, an additional card is turned face up after the crib is formed. This card is common to all players and can be used by everyone to make combinations in the second phase of the game. If this starting card is a jack, the dealer immediately gets two bonus points.

It isn't rare at all for the dealer to put interesting cards into the crib, knowing that it will belong to him, while the other player will try as much as possible to discard uninteresting cards for the dealer.

### Play phase

The first phase of the game might remind you of ninety nine. In turn, each player plays a card of his choice, and each card put on the table counts for a cumulative total of points. For example, if Alice plays a jack, and if Bob continues with a 7, the cumulative total will be 17. Then, if Alice keeps going with an 8, the total becomes 25, and so on.

At your turn, if you aren't able to play a card without making the total exceed 31, your turn is skipped. If nobody can play anymore, the player who played the last card marks a point, the cumulative total is reset to 0, and the player who follows starts a new round of play until a new total of 31. This phase ends when everybody has played all his cards.

If, when playing a card, the total of 31 is exactly reached, two points are marked instead of only one. It isn't uncommon to play twice in a row, or to still have cards to play when your opponent has already played all of theirs.

During this first phase of the game, you can also mark points by different means depending on the cards you play :

- Bringing the cumulative total to exactly 15 gives 2 points
- Forming a pair of two equally ranked cards gives 2 points. For example, if the last card played is a 7, you can make a pair by playing another 7. Pay attention to the fact that, even if all face cards count for 10 points, two different ones, e.g. a king and a queen, don't make a pair.
- Making three or four of a kind in the same way respectively gives 6 and 12 points
- Making a run of three or more cards gives as many points as there are cards in the sequence. It doesn't need to be in order, but there shouldn't be any intervening card outside the run, nor any duplication. For example, if a 5 and a 4 are already on the table in this order, you can make a run of three cards and thus mark 3 points by playing a 6. By the way, you also get 2 points in this case, because 4+5+6 gives 15. If your opponent then plays another 6, he marks 2 points for making a pair of sixes, but no point for any run because 5 4 6 6 no longer form a run.

Cards from 2 to 10 are worth their face value, face cards all count for 10, and aces for 1 (not 11).

### Scoring phase

For the second phase of the game, each player takes back the cards he had in his hand and tries to make combinations to get more points. The crib is given to the dealer and is counted just like all other hands. The visible card drawn at the beginning of the game is common to everybody, and can be used as part of combinations in players' hand and in the crib.

The following combinations give points:

- The jack of the same suit as the starting card gives one point
- A set of cards which add up to 15 give 2 points. As before, face cards count for 10 and aces for 1.
- A pair of cards of the same rank gives 2 points
- A three of a kind gives 6 points. In fact, you should see that you can make two distinct pairs with your three cards, for a total of 6 points.
- A four of a kind gives 12 points. Here again, you should notice that it is possible to make 6 distinct pairs by taking each time two cards among the four.
- A run of three or more cards gives as many points as there are cards in the sequence. Contrary to pairs, while it is possible to make two distinct runs of three cards with a run of four cards, the latter is worth 4 points and not 6.
- Having all 4 cards of the same suit gives 4 points. If the common card is again of the same suit, it's 5 points. Be careful, having three cards out of four plus the common card all of the same suit does not give 4 points.

The main subtlety of cribbage scoring, what makes also of course all its interests, is that a card can be part of multiple combinations at the same time without any limit. For example, the hand 4 of club, 5 of spade, 6 of diamond, jack of heart with the common card 4 of heart gives a total of 15 points:

- We can make two distinct runs of three cards: 4 of heart, 5 of spade, 6 of diamond is a first run, while 4 of club, 5 of spade, 6 of diamond makes another one. This already gives 3+3=6 points.
- There is a pair of 4 for 2 points
- The jack together with the 5 add up to 15, what gives 2 points
- 4+5+6 gives 15, and there are two ways to obtain 15, once with the 4 of heart and once with the 4 of club, what gives another 4 points
- The jack is of the same suit as the 4 (the common card), what gives finally another last point

As scoring is one of the main and most intricate parts of cribbage, it isn't automatically done on the Playroom. You must count your points yourself!

A very important rule in cribbage says that all points you miss or count too much , are given to your opponent! Thus, if, for the preceding example, you miss the two ways of doing 4+5+6=15 for 4 points, and therefore said that your hand had a value of 11 points instead of 15, the 4 points you have forgotten are given to your opponent. Be very careful when scoring, so that you don't offer any easy points to other players.

The best possible cribbage hand is 5, 5, 5, jack, with the common card being the last 5 of the same suit as the jack, for a total of 29 points. We count as follows:

- Four fives for 12 points
- 4 ways of adding up to 15 by taking the jack and a 5 for 8 points
- 4 ways of making 15 by taking three out of the four fives for 8 points
- The jack of the same suit as the common card for one point

By the way, no hand totals 19 points. Some experienced players like joking with this, saying 19 when they have in fact hands that aren't worth any point.

### Cribbage for 3, 4, 5 or 6 players, and cribbage in teams

The game with 3, 4, 5 or 6 players is globally played the same way as the standard face to face game, except minor differences that occur mostly in the deal:

- Only one card is discarded to the crib. We only discard two cards when playing with two players.
- With 3, 4 or 5 players, 5 cards are dealt instead of 6.
- With 5 and 6 players, the dealer receives one card less and doesn't discard any card to the crib
- With 3 players, one more card is drawn from the deck and put into the crib, so that it has 4 cards as usual.
- With 6 players, all hands as well as the crib have 5 cards instead of 4 (or 6 instead of 5 if we count the common card). The best possible hand in that setting is 39 points.

There are no special rules for playing in teams, except that, of course, scores are counted together, and as in all card games played in teams, teammates are not allowed to communicate in any way about the cards in their hands. Players must be seated so that each team alternates owning the crib.

### Cribbage with time limit

It is possible to fix a maximum thinking time allowed to sum up your hand during the scoring phase. This time can range from 15 to 90 seconds. If the time expires before you indicated the score of your hand, then half of your points rounded down are given to your opponents.

This option is strongly discouraged for beginners. It gives a bit of adrenaline and adds pressure to the game, but increases the risk of making errors due to stress. It's better to first learn how to count accurately than how to count quickly.

## Keyboard shortcuts summary

- C: during play phase, announces the cumulative total between 0 and 31; during scoring phase, announces the hand currently scored (your hand, the one of another player, or the crib)
- B: say who owns the crib
- F: say what is the starting card (common card)
- V: see cards currently on the table (during play phase only)
- S: say scores
- T: say whose turn it is