NewsCreative Strategies to Improve Your Scoring in Cribbage

Creative Strategies to Improve Your Scoring in Cribbage


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What makes Cribbage one of the most enduring card games ever? How is it possible for a single game to remain unchanged for hundreds of years after being passed from generation to generation

The best answer to these questions is probably its uniqueness. Cribbage is a two-player card game that has stood the test of time and remained one of our favorites to this day.

And a game that is unlike others must require some different gameplay and strategies, right? That’s why we are here to let you know about all strategies you can use in order to beat your opponents.

Look at some of the crucial must-knows and creative ways to score and peg that board before your opponent even realizes what’s happening. 

Make the most of your dealer privilege

We all know how important it is to play a game of Cribbage with positional play. In case you are the dealer, you have a great advantage over your opponent, so you better make the most of it.

The first thing to consider is building a Crib at the beginning. In case you are a dealer, you will want to load that Crib with some good cards. In this scenario, good Crib cards would be Fives or Tens – cards that easily create a count of fifteen.

The cards you have in your hands should determine your strategy. You must decide if it is a good idea to place some pairs or cards that follow each other in values to create pairs or sequences. Otherwise, it might be better to place Aces or Kings because they are harder to use in a run.

In case you are the non-dealer and do not score from the crib do the exact opposite. Fill it with useless cards that don’t offer many options for scoring.

Make a good start

The first move aka the first card that is laid down is very important. It determines the path and order of the following cards.

Probably the best card to start with would be a Four. None of the cards your opponent uses next can help him score. Avoid cards that easily create points such as Fives or Tens.

A good start could be with a pair. Even if your opponent follows with the same value card creating a pair, you can use the third matching card and make a “pair royale”.

Avoid rookie mistakes

Stay concentrated and don’t let your opponent take over the control of the game. Some basic mistakes can cost you a lot later.

The most common mistakes could be starting with a Five or a Ten, using low-value cards at the beginning, or creating counts of 21. The 21 rule is the one you should especially be careful of since your opponent will score 31 using only one card.

Have in mind that 10-ranked cards are the most common ones in the deck and your opponent is highly likely to have one or a few.

Remember you are far behind as a non-dealer

Simple math and logic easily explain the advantage the dealer has over the non-dealer. 

The average number of points a dealer scores in one round is 16. It is much lower for the non-dealer – only 10. 

The average number of deals in one game of Cribbage is 9 completely finished ones and the 10th one that is usually not finished. This means that the starting dealer gets to count one crib more than the non-dealer.

All of this makes the game much more difficult for the non-dealer. He must play smarter and be more cautious of the moves they both make.

Is this fair? Well, yes. Those are the rules and that creates the dynamic of the game. After all, it changed the roles in the next round and that makes it even.

Create traps for your opponent

One of the easiest traps you can set is playing a Seven. If the opponent is not careful or does not see through your intentions, he will play an Eighth in order to score 15. You can then place a nine and create a sequence for yourself and score additional points.

But the same thing can happen to you. You must remain concentrated during the game of Cribbage, otherwise, you will become the fish that bites the bait.

Analyze your opponent

In case you are playing with the same opponents over and over it is much easier to become familiar with their plays and strategies. This might be a bigger challenge when an unfamiliar player is on the opposite side and you are not aware of their skills.

Anyway, always try to get a read on your opponent. Remember that each player tends to hold cards that can be used for scoring points. They must have some ideas or tactics in their mind. And your job is to recognize those and use them to your advantage.

Where to play Cribbage

To play Cribbage you’ll need a Cribbage board. You can buy custom boards from the Cribbage Guys. You can also play online on sites like Cribbage-Online or at the Cribbage Congress

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

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