Counting Helps
52 Card Hand


This page is for those who already know how to play cribbage, are pretty good at it, and want a little more challenge. 

For more information about cribbage contact the American Cribbage Congress.

How many points in the whole deck?

If you had all 52 cards in your hand, how many points would you have? 


These are all variations I have tried and have found fun.  Some variations I've tried didn't work out so well, but that doesn't stop us.  For a year or so I played cribbage with Zach Blagg using the stipulation that the dealer makes the rules and here are some of the things we've tried.

Use the Jokers. 

jokerThis is one of our best innovations.  A joker counts as a zero.  It can be used in runs of 0-1-2.  It doubles the value of all the fifteens in a hand because it can be added into any fifteen combination and it's still fifteen (e.g. a 7,8 is 15, so is a 7,8,0).  Two jokers multiply by 4, but two jokers in a hand cuts down on the number of fifteens that can be made with the remaining cards. 


Whoever gets to 60 points first loses.  Game lasts too long if to 120 points.

Use two cut cards.

This gives an extra card to make bigger hands.  Before putting cards in the crib, the deck is cut and a card turned up.  Then the crib is made and another card cut.  Both cards count in both the hand and the crib.

Use other than 121 game points.

121 points is fine for regular cribbage, but it's too many if playing lowball, not enough if playing with more than 6 cards.  If we play with 7 or 8 card hands, we go for 241 points, 361 if playing with 9 cards.

Use a double deck and bigger hands.

Other interesting runs and combinations are available.  It's fun to get a double triple (26 pts) or a triple triple (39 pts), or 5 of a kind (20 pts) but bigger combinations are available.  Typically we'll deal out eight cards apiece, put two in the crib, and have two cut cards, so we're playing with eight card hands.  We tried more, but counting all the points almost takes the fun out of it - it can take too long - too many combinations, especially in fifteens.  We usually go twice around (241 pts).

It's my suggestion that if you go to bigger hand, bump it up one card at at time until you get used to counting it.  If you start right out playing with nine cards, it's likely to overwhelm you.

It's never happened to me, but if playing with nine cards if one of us got five 5s and four 0s, the game could be over in one hand.  The fifteens would be 320, plus 20 for the 5 of a kind and 12 for the 4 of a kind for a total of 352 points.  Pegging nine points could put one over 361, which we normally play to with nine cards.  With four 0's in the hand, if one received a go, pegging 9 might not be that hard.  Another possibility would be eight 5s and a joker -336 for the fifteens and 56 for eight of a kind for a total of 392 points!

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Play Draw cribbage

Before putting two cards in the crib, each player has the option of throwing away as many cards in their hand as they want (but they must keep one) and drawing new ones to replace them.  After making the crib, each player can again throw away cards and draw new ones.  Then playing starts.

I think this variation works best if playing with at least seven cards. 

Choose a cut card.

Each player takes a card out of his hand and places it face down for the opponent.  After both cards are placed, they are turned over, and the card your opponent gave you is your cut card.  You likely will each have a different cut card.

Variations that we tried but don't use

Combinations other than 15, e.g. 16 gets two points.  However, it seems that 15 works pretty well and we ended up going back to 15.

Pegging for other than 31, but 31 seems to work pretty well and we ended up going back to it.

Two cribs.  Each player has a crib and whoever has the MOST points at the end wins, not who goes out first.  You could end with a tie.  We just didn't like it as well, I don't know why.

Bigger cribs.

cribWe tried having cribs equal in size to the hand, but we found with bigger hands it made too much of a difference, so we went back to four cards in the crib.

Bid cribbage

Bid for the crib.  Whoever wins the bid, gets the crib minus the bid amount, or they get the whole crib if they didn't bid more than what was in it.  If they did bid more than what was in it, either they go back (get set) by the amount bid, or the opponent gets it.  The crib is such a small part of the total points that it doesn't pay to mess with it.  It makes the game last too long.

Wild cards. 

We tried wild cards and found that making the king wild seemed to be the best alternative.  However, when we switched to a double deck, we didn't have a need to make things wild anymore.