The Pack Report

The History of The Game of Cribbage and How-To Play


When thinking of traditions, many may ponder family recipes, music, or places to visit. Another activity that can be passed down from generations is the classic game of cribbage. If you did not learn how to play the game from a grandpa, this is the blog post for you on the history, breakdown, reasons to consider playing, and instructions on how-to play. 

Before you learn how to play, it’s important to go back in time and focus on the origins of the iconic game. Based off an article from, British soldier and poet, Sir John Suckling is said to be the inventory of cribbage as early as the 1630’s. 

“In the 1630’s Suckling, also a famous courtier and gambler altered an earlier similar game of “noddy” by inventing the crib, which is basically an extra hand the dealer gets to play.”

Due to Suckling’s wealthy inheritance from his father’s fortune, Suckling first began playing card games by gambling in France, Italy, and England in the 1630’s. The origins of the game were derived from the game of noddy, but created a ‘crib’, or a known in the game as a discard pile, which created the new form of game. Suckling, who was recognized as quite the swindler, played alongside many nobleman, but cheated, due to marking cards in his favor. 

The game of cribbage skyrocketed in popularity when English explorers arrived in America and became very popular in the colonies, specifically in the New England region. It is said that the Innuits created boards from walrus tusks, while playing with the sailors along the port sides. 

The expansion of cribbage within the American population took off even more during WWII, while soldiers passed time and played one another.


We recommend getting the all-in-one product with the Mini Game Pack. The Mini Game Packs is 5-star rated and includes a folding cribbage board with pegs, five dice, and a deck of cards. Everything fits perfectly inside the 4″ by 4″ mini canvas pack.

If you are seeking showstopping unique handcrafted cribbage boards, we recommend visiting the Duluth Pack retail store of one-of-a-kind pieces. 

Before we dive into the game’s instructions on how to play, make sure you have the proper game pieces. Each cribbage board (which is the shape of a rectangle and typically made of wood), comes with four pegs, usually in two contrasting hues. The last piece of the game is a standard 52-card deck.


Now that you briefly understand the game’s past, now let’s dive into the breakdown on how to properly play the game of cribbage. 

Typically, the game is played between two players, but it is acceptable to play up with up to four people but split between two teams. The focus of cribbage is to score either 61 or 121 points. The score depends on your board layout and in what geographical region you are playing. You score points by having cards that total 15, and move your pegs around the cribbage board’s track. You win the game, by being the first player to reach the definitive score. 

Players begin playing by placing their pegs in the starting position located on the cribbage board. Make sure your pegs remain in the same track for the entire game. The players will then need to shuffle and cut the deck of cards provided with the game to choose the first dealer. The player does this by cutting the cards and revealing the section you picked up to the group. Whoever has the card with the lowest value becomes the first dealer. So everyone is on the same page, King cards are the highest perceived value and Ace cards have the lowest perceived value. Remove all joker cards from the deck. 

Now that a dealer is chosen, the dealer will shuffle and deal 6 cards to each player. The players may look at their own cards, but make sure to keep them hidden from other player’s eyes. Set the remaining cards from the deck next to the cribbage board, face down. 

This is now the time to discard 2 cards from your hand in the dealer’s crib. Choose wisely. Set the cards face down in front of the dealer to form the “crib”, which is an extra hand that is hidden throughout the game, but will be scored at the end of the round. 

How To Count Your Points:

15 (combination of 2+ cards totaling exactly 15) – 2 points

Pair – 2 points

Three-of-a-kind – 6 points

Four-of-a-kind – 12 points

Runs of 3+ cards – 1 point per card

Double 3-card run – including pairs – 8 points

Double 4-card run – including pairs – 10 points

Triple run – including pairs – 15 points

Quadruple run, including pairs – 16 points

Flush –  4 cards of a suit – 4 points

Flush – 5 cards of a suit – 5 points

Jack as the cut card – 2 points 

Jack of the same suit as the cut card – 1 point 

Face Cards – value of 10 each

Ace Cards – value of 1 each

Cut the game deck and now flip the top card, which is the start card, on the top of the deck for all players to see. If the start card is a Jack, the dealer automatically gets 2 points. Both players can use the start card. Now is the time to move the peg that is furthest on your track that many spaces ahead of your front peg spot. 

Play a card from your hand deck face-up, in front of you, and announce the value. Again, 2 = 2, 3 = 3, and so on numerically. For example, if the opponent player starts with a 2, and the remaining player places a 4, the new total value is a 6. Keep in mind, only the values of the cards matter for this portion of cribbage, so do not focus on the suits. 

This is the time for players to take turns playing cards and adding the total point value. Remember to keep your cards separate from other’s players piles, so they don’t get mixed up. 

If a player is unable to put down a card due to going over the limit of 31 points, the player must state, “go”. If the other player has cards, they must play as many of the cards as they can. 

It is crucial while playing to watch what the opponent player is placing, because you can earn points by making card combos. Whenever a player scores points, they move the peg of the farthest back and move it in front of the leading peg. 

How To Score Extra Points:

A player will get two points if the count is exactly 15.

If the last card played equates the total to 31, the player will score 2 points. 

If a pair is created by matching the last card an opponent player uses, the player scores 2 points. 

If a card you place completes a run of cards, earn 1 point for each card in the run. For example, if a player played a 4 on their turn, then the other player played a 6, the opponent player could play a 5. 

Also, if a player plays the last card for the round, they also gain 1 point. 

It’s crucial to switch dealers after each round. This ensures that each player earns points from the same number of hands. Repeat the steps above by shuffling another hand of 6 new cards and placing 2 cards into the crib. To win, the players must reach the 61 or 121 points or over. 

Keep in mind, cribbage is a game that takes time win, and even more, to master. It is a fantastic game to keep you sharp on math skills, communication, and bonding with loved ones on a cold winter day in the indoors, or at the cabin over a cup of coffee in the morning. With its rich history dating back hundreds of years, cribbage is a game that generations have competed over. We look forward to this game becoming a long-standing tradition in your family. 

– Happy Adventuring, Friends

Happy Adventures - Duluth Pack