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Unite or Die Snake


Last updated: September 2022



Cribbage is traditionally supposed to have evolved during the 17th Century from an earlier game Noddy. Generally is a two player game, partnerships of two can also be played.  In the 18th Century, cribbage was played with 5 cards, as opposed to the 6 cards overwhelmingly played today & there are minor differences in the rules. The object of the game is to be the first to score 61 points accumulated over several deals. Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occurring during the play or occurring in a player’s hand or in the cards discarded before the play, which form the “crib”.

Two players (or two partnerships of 2) use a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank K (high) Q Kn 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A (low). Points are recorded using pegs on a board with two sets of 61 holes. The holes in the board represent a player’s score from 1 to 61. Each player has two pegs: the forward peg shows the player's score to date, & the rear peg shows the previous score. When a player scores points, the rear peg is moved in front to show the new score. The distance between the pegs shows the amount most recently scored, & the opponent can thereby check it has been scored correctly.

The game has several distinct steps:
The Deal
Discard to the Crib
The Play

The Deal:
Cut cards to determine who deals first. The player cutting the lower card deals, & the other player (the “pone”) immediately pegs 3 points for “last” as compensation. This is scored on the first deal only. Subsequently the turn to deal alternates.
The dealer shuffles & deals 5 cards to each player one at a time. The remainder of the pack is placed face down on the table. Note, as cribbage is considered a gentleman’s game, cutting the cards before the deal insinuates cheating & costs the offending party 2 points immediately.

Discard to the Crib:
Each player discards two cards from his hand face down to form the “crib” of four cards. The crib is set aside until the end of the hand. Any card combinations in the crib will count for the dealer, so non-dealer will try to throw cards that are unlikely to make valuable combinations.

Start Card:
The Pone cuts the pack of un-dealt cards, lifting the upper part without showing its bottom card. The dealer takes out the top card of the lower part, turns it face up &, after the Pone replaces the upper part, places it face up on top of the pack as the “starter card”.  If the start card is a Jack, the dealer immediately pegs 2 points - this is called “two for his heels”.

The Play:
Starting with the Pone, the players take turns to play a single cards face up in front of themselves. In this stage of the game the total pip value of the cards played by both players must not exceed 31. The pip values of the cards are:
Ace = 1; 2 to 10 = face value; knave = 10; queen = 10; king = 10.

As each card is played, the player announces the running total. If a card is played which makes the pip total exactly 31, the player pegs two points. This ends the play.
A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play a card but says "Go". If your opponent says “Go” then you may continues playing cards & scoring for any combinations you make (see below). If you bring the total to exactly 31 you score 2 points as above.
Play may end at a total lower than 31, either because both players have played all their cards or because all cards left in the players’ hands have pip values so high that they would take the total over 31 if played. In these cases whichever player was the last to play a card pegs 1 point for “last card” & ends the play.

Note: Players familiar with Six Card Cribbage will be used to carrying on playing until all the cards have been played, starting again at zero each time 31 is reached or both players say "Go". Five card cribbage is different: you only play up to 31 once & one or both players may have un played cards at the end of the play.

Scoring during the play:
A player who makes any of the following scores during the play pegs them immediately.
15:  If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you score two points (“Fifteen two”)
31:  As mentioned above, if you play a card which brings the total to exactly 31 you score 2 points.
Pair:   If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card (e.g. a King after a King) you score 2 points for a pair. Note that a 10 & a queen do NOT make a pair even though they are both worth 10 points.
Pair Royal:  If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rank is played, the player of the third card scores 6 for “pair royal”.
Double Pair Royal:  Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession. The player of the fourth card scores 12.
Run:  A “run” or “sequence” is a set of 3 or more cards of consecutive ranks (irrespective of suit) - such as 9-10-Knave or 2-3-4-5. Note that Ace is low so for example Ace-King-Queen is not a run. The player of a card which completes a run scores for the run; the score is equal to the number of cards in the run. The cards to not have to be played in order, but no other cards must intervene.  For example, cards are played in the following order: 3-4-2-5-6. The player of the duce scores 3 points for a run, then the player of the five scores 4 points, & the player of the six scores 5 points.
Another example: 4-3-5-4-5. The player of the first five scores 3 points for the run 4-3-5. Then the player of the second four scores 3 for the run 3-5-4. The player of the second five scores nothing because the five does not complete a run.
Last Card:  If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoever played the last card scores 1 point.

The Show:
Players now score for combinations of cards held in hand. The Pone’s hand is exposed & scored first. The start card also counts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted.
15:  Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points. For example King, Jack, Five, Five would count 8 points (four fifteens as the king & the jack can each be paired with either five). You would say “Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, fifteen eight”.
Pair:  A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points. Three cards of the same rank contain 3 different pairs & thus score a total of 6 points for “pair Royal”. Four of a kind contain 6 pairs & so score 12 points for a “Double pair Royal”.
Run:  Three cards of consecutive rank (irrespective of suit), such as Ace-2-3, score 3 points for a run. A hand such as 6-7-7-8 contains two runs of 3 (as well as two fifteens & a pair) & so would score 12 altogether. A run of four cards, such as 9-10-J-Q scores 4 points. This is slightly illogical - you might expect it to score 6 because it contains two runs of 3, but it does not. The runs of 3 within it does not count -you just get 4.
Flush:  If all three cards of the hand are the same suit, 3 points are scored for a flush. If the start card is the same suit as well, the flush is worth 4 points. There is no score for having 2 hand cards & the starter all the same suit. Note also that there is no score for flush during the play - it only counts in the show.
One for His Nobs:  If the hand contains the Knave of the same suit as the start card, score 1 extra point.

Note that when scoring a hand, the same card may be counted & scored as part of several different combinations. For example if your hand is 7 8 8 and the start card is a 9 you score “fifteen 2, fifteen 4, and a pair is 6, and a run is 9 and a run is 12” - 12 points to peg, with each of your 8s forming part of a fifteen, a pair & a run.

After non-dealer's hand has been shown & the score pegged, dealer's hand is shown, scored & pegged in the same way. Finally the dealer exposes the four cards of the crib & scores them with the start card. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands except that: a flush in the crib only scores if all four crib cards & the start card are of the same suit. If that happens the flush scores 5 points.  It is now possible to have a run of five cards, which scores just 5 points.

Winning the Game:
As soon as a player reaches 61 points, that player wins the game. This can happen at any point - during the play or the show, or even by dealer scoring “two for his heels”. Note that it is not necessary to reach 61 exactly - for example if you overshoot by scoring 2 more points when you had 60 you still win.