Both players cut a card; low card deals first. The dealer gives each player 6 cards.
Each player discards 2 cards to the Crib (an extra hand for the dealer). Non-dealer cuts the deck, and dealer turns up the top card (starter card). If the starter card is a Jack, dealer scores 2 points. The crib is set aside temporarily.
Starting with non-dealer, players alternate playing cards and announcing the "count." The cards A to 9 are worth their value of 1 to 9. The cards 10 to King are all worth 10. Add the value of the card you are playing to the current value of the count to get the new count. The count can never be higher than 31. If a player cannot play without making the count higher than 31, he says, "Go." His opponent must continue playing until he, too cannot legally play a card.
When neither player can legally play, the count reverts to 0, and play continues until all cards have been played. Here's a sample hand being played:
K (10) 10 (20)
7 (27) Go
2 (29) 9 (9)
3 (12) 8 (20)
When Ted made the count 27, Sally couldn't play without going over 31, so she said, "Go." Ted was still able to play his 3 or his 2. Once he played the 2, he couldn't play the 3, so the count reverted to 0, with Sally playing first in the new sequence.
During this "Play of the hand," scoring is as follows (score points by jumping your rear peg over your front peg):
2 points for making the count 15.
2 points for pairing the card opponent just played. The pair must be made within one sequence to 31; if my 9 makes the count 31, and the count reverts to 0, and you start the next sequence by playing a 9, you don't get credit for pairing my 9.
6 points for playing the third card of a specific denomination in a row (i.e. you play a King, opponent plays a King, and you play another King) during one sequence to 31.
12 points for the fourth consecutive card of a specific denomination during one sequence to 31.
1 point for each card in a "run" of three cards or more (you play an Ace, opponent plays a 3, you play a 2--you get three points. If opponent now plays a 4, he gets 4 points. If you now play a 5, you get 7 points, 5 for the 5-card run, and 2 because the count is now 15. Had you played another Ace, rather than a 5, you would get 4 points, because the last four cards played were 3-2-4-A. Ace is low only; Q-K-A is not a run. Note that the cards of a run can be played in any order.
2 points for making the count exactly 31.
1 point for playing the last card in a sequence that does not reach exactly 31. Note that in the sample hand above, Ted would score one point when he played his 2, the last card in the first sequence to 31. Sally would score 1 point for playing her 7, the last card in the second sequence to 31.
Here's a sample hand with some scoring:
K (10) 5 (15 for 2*)
8 (23) 8 (31 for 4**)
4 6 (10)
5 (15 for 5***) 3 (18 for 5****)
* For making the count 15
** [two for pairing the 8, plus two for making the count exactly 31]
*** [Three for a three-card run (4-6-5), plus two for making the count 15]
**** [Four for a four-card run (4-6-5-3), plus one for playing the last card in a sequence that didn't reach exactly 31]
After all cards have been played, non-dealer next scores the points in his hand. Then dealer scores the points in his hand. Then dealer scores the points in the crib. Points in the hands and crib are scored in combination with the starter card, so that each hand has five cards.
Scoring is as follows:
1 point for having the Jack of the same suit as the starter card.
2 points for any card combination totaling 15. The same card may be used in different combinations. For instance, 4-5-5-5-6 contains 4 different combinations of 15: 4-5-6, 4-5-6, 4-5-6, and 5-5-5.
1 point for each card in a run. 9-10-J-Q-K contains one 5-card run, worth 5 points. 9-10-10-10-J contains three different 3-card runs, worth 3 points each. J-J-Q-Q-K contains four three-card runs: the first Jack forms a three-card run with each Queen, and the second Jack also forms a three-card run with each Queen.
5 points if all four cards and the starter card are the same suit (hand or crib).
4 points if all four cards in a hand other than the crib are the same suit, but not the same suit as the starter card. (No points for a crib flush unless all 5 cards are the same suit).
2 points for a pair, 6 points for three of a kind, and 12 points for four of a kind.
An optional rule allows a player to call "Muggins!" if his opponent failed to score some of the points in his hand (or during the play of the hand), and to take those points for himself. You may also wish to play that if your opponent takes more points than he's entitled to, he must go back where he belongs, while you get the extra points he took.
When all three hands have been scored, a new hand is dealt (deal alternates). First player to score 121 (or more) wins. (If non-dealer reaches 121, dealer does not get to score his points.) Note that some cribbage boards allow you to travel 121 holes in one lap (up and back or in some spiral or snaking format), while others require you to travel up and back twice.
As you can now determine, 4-5-5-5-6 contains four 15-2's (8 points), three 3-card runs (9 points) and three of a kind (6 points) for a total of 23 points. Here are ten tricky hands to practice scoring (answers at bottom of page). None is a flush.
Five cards to each player, and one card dealt to the crib. Players discard 1 card. You'll need a cribbage board with three tracks, or two cribbage boards. (With one two-track cribbage board, try playing "Captain," in which one player starts in the 60 hole, while the other two play as partners.)
Same rules as two-handed, except each player receives 5 cards and tosses 1 card to dealer's crib. Players are partnered with the player across the table, so that only two players keep score for their teams. Play and counting of hands begin to the dealer's left, and proceed clockwise.
Tricky Hands Scoring Solutions
a. 16 points [three 15-2's (4-5-6, 4-5-6, 6-6-3); two four-card runs; and a pair.]
b. 14 points [three 15-2's (2-3-K, 2-3-K, A-2-2-K); two three-card runs; and a pair.]
c. 14 points [four 15-2's (4-4-7, 4-4-7, 4-4-7, 4-4-4-3); and three of a kind.]
d. 8 points [three 15-2's (A-3-4-7, A-3-4-7, A-7-7); and a pair.]
e. 24 points [six 15-2's (all A-7-7); and four of a kind.]
f. 22 points [seven 15-2's (six 5-10's and one 5-5-5); a pair; and three of a kind.]
g. 28 points [eight 15-2's (four 5-K's and four 5-5-5's); and four of a kind.]
h. 10 points [three 15-2's (8-7, 2-6-7, 2-5-8); and a four-card run.]
i. 18 points [five 15-2's (three 6-6-3's and two 3-3-3-6's); a pair; and three of a kind.]
j. 13 points [four 15-2's (8-7, 8-6-A, 8-6-A, and 7-6-A-A); a three-card run; and a pair.]