Rosie Distefano

Written by Rosie Distefano

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Cribbage is a classic card game that has been enjoyed by enthusiasts for centuries. Its unique combination of strategy and luck has made it a beloved pastime for players of all ages. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the game, there are always fascinating facts to discover about cribbage that will leave you in awe.

In this article, we will delve into 12 astonishing facts about cribbage that showcase the rich history, intricate rules, and intriguing elements of this popular card game. From its origin in the 17th century to its ongoing popularity today, cribbage continues to captivate players around the world. So, let’s shuffle the deck and deal out these surprising cribbage facts that will undoubtedly pique your interest and deepen your appreciation for this timeless game.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cribbage, a 17th-century card game, involves strategic decisions, pegging, and the elusive “magic 31” for extra points, making it a timeless and exciting game for players of all ages.
  • With origins in England, Cribbage’s enduring popularity, gambling history, and competitive leagues showcase its unique scoring system and rich history, attracting players worldwide.
Table of Contents

The Origins of Cribbage

Cribbage, an age-old card game, dates back to the 17th century and is believed to have originated in England. Its exact origins are still a subject of debate among historians.

The Deck of Cards

Cribbage is typically played with a standard 52-card deck. However, the game can also be played with a 32-card deck, removing the cards below 6.

The Objective of the Game

In Cribbage, the goal is to be the first player to score 121 points. Players score points by creating combinations of cards that add up to specific values.

The Crib

One unique aspect of Cribbage is the “crib.” At the beginning of each round, each player discards two cards into a separate pile, which then becomes the crib. The crib is scored by the dealer at the end of each hand.

The Pegging Phase

During gameplay, players take turns laying down cards and keeping track of their scores using a scoring board. The process of laying down and scoring the cards is known as “pegging.”

The Magic 31

One of the most exciting aspects of Cribbage is the elusive “magic 31.” If a player’s cards during the pegging phase add up to exactly 31, they earn extra points. Achieving this feat is a thrilling moment for any Cribbage player.

The Muggins Rule

An interesting rule in Cribbage is the “muggins” rule. If a player fails to claim points they have earned, their opponent can “mug” them by scoring those points for themselves.

The Skunk and the Double Skunk

In Cribbage, if a player wins by more than 30 points, it is called a “skunk.” If a player wins by more than 60 points, it is known as a “double skunk.” These terms add an extra competitive edge to the game.

Cribbage as a Gambling Game

Cribbage has long been associated with gambling. In the past, players would often wager on the outcome of the game, adding an element of excitement and stakes to the gameplay.

Cribbage Leagues and Tournaments

There are numerous Cribbage leagues and tournaments held worldwide, showcasing the competitive nature of the game. Players from all walks of life come together to showcase their skills and compete for titles and prizes.

The Strategic Element of Cribbage

Cribbage requires players to make strategic decisions throughout the game. From discarding cards to manipulating the pegging phase, players must carefully plan their moves to maximize their score and outwit their opponents.

The Enduring Popularity of Cribbage

Despite the rise of modern card games, Cribbage has maintained its popularity for centuries. Its unique scoring system, strategic gameplay, and rich history continue to attract players of all ages to this day.


In conclusion, cribbage is a fascinating and highly engaging card game that has stood the test of time. With its rich history, intricate rules, and unique scoring system, cribbage offers a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience for players of all ages. From its origins in the 17th century to its popularity in modern-day societies, cribbage continues to captivate enthusiasts and provide endless hours of fun. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to learn a new game, cribbage is sure to provide you with countless astonishing facts to discover and enjoy.


1. How do you play cribbage?

To play cribbage, each player is dealt a hand of cards and must strategically discard and keep certain cards to maximize their score. The aim is to be the first player to reach a certain number of points, typically 121.

2. How is cribbage scored?

Cribbage is scored using a pegging system, where players move pegs on a scoring board. Points are awarded for various combinations of cards, including pairs, runs, and reaching specific sums during the pegging phase and the scoring phase.

3. How many players can play cribbage?

Cribbage is traditionally played by two players, but it can also be played with three or four players in partnerships. The game becomes more strategic and competitive with additional players.

4. Is cribbage a difficult game to learn?

Cribbage has a relatively simple set of rules, but it can take time and practice to understand the intricacies of the game and develop a winning strategy. With enough patience and determination, anyone can learn to play cribbage.

5. Are there any variations of cribbage?

Yes, there are several variations of cribbage, including three-player cribbage and six-card cribbage. Each variation has its own unique rules and scoring systems, adding diversity and excitement to the game.

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