Cribbage is a game which has a lot of different lingo and terminology to it. I’ve sat in games and heard phrases that I’ve never heard in my life, and I’ve been playing Cribbage for over 20 years!
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So to help people out, I’ve compiled this list of Cribbage Terminology & Lingo. If you’ve heard a phrase or word during cribbage and aren’t sure what it means, just check our list sorted in alphabetical order. And if there’s something you have heard not mentioned just use the contact form below and we’ll get all the information on it up:
- 15s: 15 is one of the most common scoring hands in Cribbage, and you’ll often hear players say “15 for 2, 15 for 4” etc as a way of counting.
- Bust Hand: A bust hand is a hand which has zero points.
- Double Skunk: See Skunking
- Game Hole: Last hole on the board – known as Game Hole because the person that ends up there, wins the game.
- Go: If you can’t play any more cards and the number is lower than 31, it is called a “Go”. For example you play a 2 on 28 to make it 30, then neither of you have an ace – you get a point for the “Go”.
- His Nibs: See “His Nobs”.
- His Nobs: If the starter or turn up card is a Jack, the dealer gets two points. This is often referred to as His Nobs. Also if either player holds a Jack which is the same suit as the starter, they get to peg 1 point and this is also called “his nobs”.
- Lurch: See “Skunking”.
- Morgan’s Orchard: Also known as Morgan’s for brevity. Term for when you score four with two pairs.
- Mud Hole: The second last hole on the board. Don’t get stuck in the mud!
- Muggins: This is one of those rules that are sometimes used, sometimes not and you are best to clarify it before the game begins. If your opponent announces his total points and has missed some – you can state “Muggins” then get the points that he missed.
- Nineteen: When you have a zero point hand, you may say “Nineteen” or “Nineteen Points” which is a sarcastic call, as 19 is an impossible hand in cribbage.
- Pegging: When you move your peg after scoring points, it is called pegging.
- Play Off: Breaking up a sequence of cards, for example if a 3 and a 4 has been played then you play a 9 is called a “Play Off”.
- Play On: When you play a card that continues a run, or at least makes one possible – many players will call it a “Play On”.
- Salting The Crib: Salting the Crib is when you put cards into the crib which will actually benefit the dealer. Sometimes you have no choice but to do this, so that you can keep the most powerful starting hand.
- Skunking: Skunk, or skunking your opponent, is the ultimate insult in Cribbage. There will be the “Skunk Line” which is between the 90th and 91st hole. If you win the game and your opponent hasn’t crossed that line, then you’ve “skunked” them. This counts as winning 2 games as opposed to one. There’s also an additional line known as the double skunk line between the 60th and 61st holes. Beat your opponent before they’ve crossed that line and it counts as 4 wins!
- Tenth Card: All paint cards are commonly referred to as the “tenth card”, as they all have the rank of ten.
- The Box: A nickname in the UK for the “Crib”. See below.
- The Crib: All players have to remove cards from their hand, and put them together with the other players extracted cards to create a separate hand. This hand is known as “the crib” and the dealer gets to use it to count.
- The Starter: See Turn Up Card.
- Turn Up Card: The turn up card is the card which is turned up after the players have put two cards into the crib. The person who is not dealing should cut the cards, and then the dealer will turn up the top card of the lower cut and place it on top of the deck. Also please note that if this card is a jack, then the dealer pegs 2 points.
- Two for His Heels: Slang term mostly used in the UK, for when you turn the jack up on the cut.
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Additional Cribbage Terminology Questions:
Why is there no mention of a skunk or skunking in cribbage in Hoyle’s Rules?
They were never included in the official rules of Cribbage. Both double/triple skunks were an optional item added later to the Cribbage game. Skunking is also not included in the official American Cribbage Congress tournaments either. We’re not sure when “skunking” was added to Cribbage but it was most likely added to add enjoyment to the game if one player is out in front because it still gives the other player something to play for.
Cribbage Terminology Contributions:
Thanks to Mike for some contributions to the Cribbage lingo.
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