How to Play Chinese Cribbage: Basic Rules and Strategies

Chinese Cribbage, also known as Four-Handed Cribbage or Double Cribbage, is a captivating card game that combines elements of cribbage and trick-taking games. This intriguing variation is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and involves four players divided into two teams. So, gather your friends, sharpen your wits, and let's uncover the secrets of Chinese Cribbage together!

Is There a Difference Between Crib and Cribbage?

Cribbage, also known as crib, is a classic card game that’s been enjoyed for centuries. It’s typically played by two players, although it can be adapted for more players as well. The game involves playing and grouping cards in combinations in order to gain points.

Developing strategies in cribbage is essential for success. Understanding the value of different card combinations and knowing when to discard certain cards to the crib can greatly impact your overall score. Experienced players often focus on playing defensively, trying to deny their opponent from scoring points while maximizing their own.

In addition to the basic gameplay, cribbage also has a unique scoring system. Points are tracked on a cribbage board, using pegs to move along a series of holes. This adds a physical element to the game and makes it easy to keep track of the score.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, mastering the basic rules and strategies of cribbage can provide hours of entertainment and friendly competition.

Different Variations of Cribbage (e.g. Three-Player Cribbage, Four-Player Cribbage)

  • Three-player cribbage
  • Four-player cribbage
  • Five-player cribbage
  • Six-player cribbage
  • Seven-player cribbage
  • Eight-player cribbage
  • Nine-player cribbage
  • Ten-player cribbage

In addition to the standard two-player version, cribbage can also be played in different variations, one of which is four-player cribbage, also known as 4-handed cribbage. The main difference in this version is that each player is dealt five cards and must then discard one to the crib. The partnership aspect remains intact, with each player teaming up with the individual sitting opposite them. The goal of the game is still to reach 121 points, but now it’s a combined effort between partners.

Are There Different Ways to Play Cribbage?

Yes, there are different ways to play cribbage. One variation is four-player cribbage, also known as 4 handed cribbage. In this version, the rules are quite similar to the standard game, with a small difference in the deal. Each player is dealt five cards instead of the usual six, and they must discard one card to the crib. This can be remembered easily with the phrase “Five, throw one.”

In four-player cribbage, players form partnerships with the person sitting opposite them. Each partnership aims to reach a total of 121 points to win the game. The strategy in this version involves not only considering your own cards and playing style but also communicating effectively with your partner. It’s important to share information about the cards in your hand and help each other plan the best moves.

To play Chinese cribbage, youll need a standard deck of 52 cards and one additional cribbage board to keep track of the scores. The game begins with one player dealing six cards to each player, one at a time. Each player then selects two cards to keep and places the other four in a separate pile, known as the crib.

The gameplay involves players taking turns to play cards from their hands, trying to form combinations that add up to fifteen or reach a maximum of 3The game continues until no more cards can be played or when the score reaches 121 points.

Some basic strategies in Chinese cribbage include keeping an eye on your opponents discarded cards as they can provide valuable information about the cards they’re holding. Additionally, it’s important to plan ahead and carefully consider which cards to keep and which to discard to the crib. Discarding high-value cards to the crib can sometimes be a strategic move to deny your opponents potential scoring opportunities.

In summary, Chinese cribbage offers a variation to the standard game of cribbage with a different deal and partnership format. Understanding the basic rules and implementing effective strategies will be essential to achieving the goal of reaching 121 points and winning the game.

Tournament Cribbage: A Competitive Version of Cribbage Played in Organized Tournaments With Specific Rules and Scoring Systems.

  • Tournament cribbage is a competitive version of cribbage.
  • It’s played in organized tournaments with specific rules and scoring systems.

Source: Variations On Cribbage Rules |

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In the game of Cribbage, the crib serves as an additional hand scored for the dealer. The dealer strategically selects cards to discard into the crib in an attempt to achieve a high scoring hand, while their opponent aims to thwart this objective. The art of Cribbage lies heavily in the crucial decision-making process of choosing which cards to discard into the crib, as it can significantly impact the outcome of the game.

What Is the Point of the Crib in Cribbage?

In Chinese Cribbage, the crib holds a significant role in the game. It constitutes an additional hand that’s specifically scored for the dealer. As each player gets a chance to discard cards into the crib, the dealer strategically aims to select cards that have the best potential for achieving a high-scoring hand. On the other hand, the opponents objective is to thwart this intention and minimize the dealers chances of earning a superior score. Thus, the crib plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of the game.

One common strategy is to discard cards that have high point values or cards that have the potential to be combined for high-scoring hands. For instance, if the dealer possesses several cards of the same rank or cards that form a sequence, it may be beneficial to retain these cards in hand and discard others. By doing so, the dealer increases the likelihood of achieving a strong hand in the crib.

However, the opponent isn’t just a passive observer in this process. They seek to complicate the dealers objective by attempting to disrupt their plans and hinder their chances of obtaining a high-scoring hand. This can be achieved through strategic discards designed to limit the potential combinations that the dealer can create with the crib.

Different Cribbage Variants and Their Rules Regarding the Crib

  • Six Card Cribbage: In this variant, each player is dealt six cards instead of the usual five. The game is played with the same rules as traditional cribbage.
  • Cribbage with Teams: This variant is played with two teams of two players each. The teammates sit across from each other and work together to maximize their points. The rules remain the same as in standard cribbage.
  • Three-Player Cribbage: As the name suggests, this variant is played with three players instead of the usual two. The rotation of dealing and the crib remains the same, with each player taking turns being the “dealer.”
  • Cribbage for Four Players: In this variant, four players compete in pairs. Each player takes turns as the “dealer,” and the teammates sit opposite each other. The scoring and gameplay follow the standard rules of cribbage.
  • Noddy: Noddy is a simplified variation of cribbage. It doesn’t include counting points during play and only focuses on pegging to advance around the board. Players aim to reach a specific target score to win.
  • Cross Cribbage: Cross Cribbage adds a twist to the game by using two separate crib boards. Players take turns playing cards on their own crib board as well as their opponent’s crib board. The scoring and gameplay are similar to traditional cribbage.
  • Cribbage Solitaire: This variant allows a single player to enjoy cribbage without the need for an opponent. The player plays both their hand and the crib, aiming to achieve the highest score possible.
  • Low-ball Cribbage: In this variation, the goal is to have the lowest score instead of the highest. The rules remain largely the same, but players aim to peg fewer points during gameplay and form the lowest-scoring hands.

However, if you’re looking for a more casual and user-friendly option, Cribbage Classic is a popular choice among cribbage enthusiasts. With it’s intuitive interface and customizable playing styles, it offers a fun and engaging cribbage experience for players of all levels. Whether you’re a serious strategist or just enjoy a good game of cribbage, there are plenty of free options available to meet your preferences.

What Is the Best Free Cribbage Game?

Another popular free cribbage game is Cribbage Pro Online, which offers both single-player and multiplayer options. It’s a user-friendly interface and allows players to compete against friends or other users from around the world. The game also includes a comprehensive tutorial for beginners and advanced players looking to enhance their skills.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, Cribbage JD is a top choice. This game provides stunning graphics and realistic gameplay that replicates the feel of playing cribbage in person. With various difficulty levels and customizable settings, players can adapt the game to their preferred playing style.

If you prefer playing cribbage on the go, Cribbage Classic is a highly recommended option. This mobile game offers cross-platform compatibility, allowing you to continue your cribbage matches seamlessly across different devices. It features intuitive controls, multiple game modes, and a challenging AI opponent.

Lastly, Cribbage With Grandpas combines traditional cribbage gameplay with a nostalgic twist. The game allows you to play against animated grandpa avatars, each with their own unique playing style and personality. It’s a fun and family-friendly option that can be enjoyed by cribbage enthusiasts of all ages.

Overall, the best free cribbage game is subjective and depends on personal preferences. Each of the mentioned games offers different features and gameplay experiences, so it’s advisable to try several options and decide which one suits your needs and style of play the best.

Tips and Strategies for Winning at Cribbage

  • Keep track of the cards that have been played
  • Count the points in your hand and try to maximize them
  • Play defensively by keeping low cards in your hand
  • Look for opportunities to score points with runs and pairs
  • Pay attention to your opponent’s discards to gain insight into their hand
  • Take advantage of the crib by discarding cards that are unlikely to help your opponent
  • Play strategically to prevent your opponent from scoring points
  • Consider pegging strategies to optimize your score during the play
  • Practice and familiarize yourself with common cribbage terms and scoring rules
  • Stay focused and maintain a positive attitude throughout the game


By understanding the basic rules and employing effective strategies such as card counting, pegging tactics, and pattern recognition, players can improve their chances of winning. The game's fusion of luck and skill makes for an exciting and unpredictable experience, ensuring that each session is a unique challenge. So gather your friends, study the rules, and dive into the world of Chinese Cribbage to discover the joys of this captivating card game.

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