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Cribbage Scoring Guidelines

If you’ve played any form of card game before, then you should be able to understand the scoring of Cribbage with ease. There are no complications with Cribbage scoring or how to score Cribbage points, and you should be able to remember how to score with ease.

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When it comes to Cribbage there are three ways to score in Cribbage:

  1. During the Play of the Game
  2. Counting the hands
  3. Penalties & Muggins

Let’s take these one by one.

During The Play of the Game

This is the period of Cribbage where both you and your opponent(s) are playing your cards against each other.

The first opportunity you have to “peg”(Cribbage terminology for scoring) is when the turn-up card is turned up. If it is a Jack, then the dealer automatically gets 2 points.

During play, you can score via the following methods:

  • 15s: If one of the players can get the total of the cards out up to 15, they get 2 points. If your opponent plays an 8 and you play a 7 then the total is 15, and you get to triumphantly state “15 for 2” and peg 2 points. It doesn’t matter how many cards are used for the 15 – a 7, a 3, a 2 and a 3 would also count.
  • Pairs: If you play a card of the same rank as the last card played, it is 2 points. Note that while all face cards values are 10, you still have to match the actual face card. So if your opponent plays a Jack, you would also have to play a jack to get the 2 points. Also if your opponent can’t go at the end, and the current total is 26 – you could play a 2 and then another 2, and get 2 points for the pair there.
  • Trips: Also known as Three of a Kind and Pairs Royal, this is 3 cards of the same rank played one after another. If your opponent plays a 4 and you play a 4, you’ll get 2 points for the pair. However your opponent can also then play a 4, and he’ll get Trips, which is 6 points.
  • Quads: Also known as Double Pairs Royal, Four of a Kind or Double Pairs – this is 4 cards of the same rank. Following on from the above example, you can now play a 4 and get a whopping 12 points for this.
  • Runs: Runs are a run of cards, and the amount of cards is how many points you get. If your opponent plays a 6 and you play a 7, your opponent can play an 8 and get 3 points for the run. Note that a run is a minimum of 3 cards. Also note that the sequence doesn’t have to be in order. If the above sequence is 6,7,8 you can actually play either a 5 or a 9 and get 4 points for the run. Aces will count as 1 and can only be in a run with the #2 and #3.
  • Flush: We just wanted to add this section to avoid any confusion. While you can score with a flush when counting the hands, you can NOT score with a flush during the play.

Counting The Hands

After the play of the game has ended, you now count your hands with the non-dealer going first, then the dealer. The dealer will count their hand and tally the points then count their additional hand, known as the crib. The turn-up card is a community card available for everyone so you have 5 card hands.

Here are all the ways you can score while counting the hand:

  • The Right Jack: Also known as “His Nobs” – if you have a jack in your hand which matches the turn up cards suit, then you get a point for that. So if you have the Jack of Diamonds and the card that was turned up was the Eight of Diamonds, you would get a point.
  • 15s: Any combination of your cards that add up to 15 will earn you a point.
  • Pairs: Any pairs you have in your hand are worth 2 points. If you have trips or quads you don’t get additional points for those hands – you just get the points for every pair. So if you have three 6’s in your hand, you have three pairs, which is 6 points.
  • Runs: You score points for any runs that have a minimum of 3 cards in them. A run is sequential cards and the suits don’t matter. If you have a 6,7,8 in your hand then that is a run of 3 for 3 points, if you have a 9 as well you’d have a run of 4, for 4 points.
  • Flush: You need a minimum of four cards of the same suit to qualify for a flush, and you will get 4 points for a 4 card flush, 5 points for a 5 card flush. One thing that confuses people however is that in the crib, you can not have a 4 card flush. If all your cards in your crib are the same suit you don’t get the points for it UNLESS the turn-up card is also of the same suit, then you will get 5 points. If the turn-up card is NOT the same suit, you won’t get any points.

Penalties & Muggins

Probably the most fun way to earn points – through others mistakes!

  • If the dealer exposes an opponents card while dealing out the cards, then the non-dealer automatically gets 2 points. He can also request a new deal, as long as he does so without looking at the cards he has already been dealt.
  • If the dealer gives the non-dealer more than the correct amount of cards, then as long as the opponent hasn’t picked up their cards then it is a new deal, and the non-dealer gets 2 points. If the non-dealer has already looked at their hand then he doesn’t get 2 points, but there must be a new deal.
  • If a player confuses the crib with their hand, then the cards are redealt, and the other player scores 2 points.
  • If you miscount when pegging how many points you got – for example you move your peg 3 when it should have only been 2 – you only get the 2 points, and your opponent gets the additional points(so in this case, 1 point)
  • If a player forgets to peg points when counting their hand or crib, the opposing player can say “Muggins” and then score the points that player overlooked. Please note this is a rule that needs to be agreed upon at the beginning of the game.
  • If a player could have made 31 during the play of cards but said he can’t “go” and is discovered, the opposition player gets 2 points.

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    Additional Cribbage Scoring Questions:

    If the last card that is played totals 31 do they get 2 points for 31 and 1 point for last card?

    Nope they would not. They would just get the 2 points for 31.

    Is there a second place winner in crib or is the game over after one player goes out?

    The game is over after the first person reaches the finishes line. I guess you could technically play on until someone else finishes although that would require the winner to play, or switching to just heads up. But by standard rules, once a player has go to the end, the game would be over.

    If I’m the dealer and my opponent scores first and needs 19 to peg out and only scores 18. Then I count my cards and I score out. Bu then he notices he missed 2 and should have 20 points. Does he get the points and win the game since hes supposed to count first or since he miscounted and I already pegged out I win?

    As per the official Cribbage rules, your opponent would lose the game. Your opponent needs to count correctly the first time otherwise he forfeits any possible points. Additionally, if you noticed your opponent had miscalculated his points you could quickly declare “Muggins” and you would get the point(s) that he missed out on.

    1. The starter up card is a 9; the dealer puts down a 6; is that a 15-2, even though only 6 towards the start of the hand score?

    2. The dealer starts with 10; pone plays 10 for 20; dealer plays 5 for 25; pone says go; dealer lays down 3 and another 3 for 31. Now the dealer has no cards left and pone has a 7, 8, and 9. What is the pone score? 3 for the straight? 2 for the 15? and 1 for the go?

    #1: Nope. The starter-up card/turn-up card is only counted for points at the end of each hand, when the players are counting their points in their hand. At that point, their 4 card hand technically becomes a 5 card hand with both sharing that card.

    #2: As long as the pone plays the cards in the order of 7-8-9 that’s correct. They would get 2 for 15 first, followed by the 3pts for the straight/run-of three, and then 1 for the go.

    during the play, a 2,3,4, and 5 are played for a 3 and 4 card run. if another 5 is played and scores a pair for 2, does it also count as a double run?

    No it does not. The run is broken up, as it is not connected to the other cards in any way. Look at them laid out like this:


    As you can see, there’s a gap there – as the second 5 is not connected to the 2,3,4 at all that would not count as a run.

    I KNOW I must be missing something but we pegged a hand recently that we think was 19 “impossible” points! What’s the problem with: three jacks and a five in my hand with the 5 of hearts as the starter card (giving knobs with my jack of hearts) That’s 6 points for a royal pair, 12 points for my 15’s is 18 and knobs is 19. What am I miscounting to get the unreachable 19?

    (additional e-mail) On my recent hand, I may have said three jacks and two fives, which would give an extra 2 points for the pair of 5’s . But what I think I actually had was 3- 5’s and a jack of hearts with the starter being the 10 of hearts and that’s what my husband and I (who have been playing for almost 10 years) thought was 19 points. But it’s written everywhere: there IS no 19!

    I will analyze both hands for you and the count. I’ll fill in the suits with examples just for full clarification:

    JhJsJd5d Starter card: 5h

    His Nobs= 1

    Total: 21. You are correct that the pair of 5s is what you initially missed.

    Hand #2:

    Jh5s5d5c Starter Card: 10h

    His Nobs=1

    Total: 21.

    In my hand I Have 4 5 6 9 spades 4 hearts is up what is my score

    Alright let’s break it down:

    4s 5s 6s 9s Starter: 4h

    4s5s6s for 15 = 2
    4h 5s6s for 15 = 2
    6s9s for 15 = 2
    4s4h for pair = 2
    4s5s6s for 3 = 3
    4h5s6s for 3 = 3

    Total: 18

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