How to Score Your Hand in Cribbage

By Barry Rigal, Omar Sharif

In a Cribbage game, after you finish playing out the cards, you pick up your hand (the cards you’ve been placing on the table in front of you) and move on to the main phase of scoring. For this scoring phase, both players treat the starter as a fifth card to supplement their hands for pairs, sequences, and combinations of 15, but during this phase, you can’t use your opponent’s cards as you can during the play of the cards.

First, you score up the pone’s hand, and the dealer’s follows. After you score both hands, the dealer scores up the crib.

The significance of this order of scoring is that toward the end of the game, each player scores three hands in a row (two as the dealer and then one as the pone), which can have a significant impact on the strategy of the game. Because Cribbage is a game of “first past the post,” if both players are close to pegging out, you can score up your hand and win as the pone, while the dealer is impotently waiting to score up his huge hand.

The points that you score in the hand and the crib, as dealer, by and large, come from the same categories as those for which you scored points in the play, but a couple of modifications complicate matters. For example, you can use cards, including the starter, in more than one combination.

Cribbage scoring chart

In Cribbage, you score points according to the following criteria:

Cribbage scoring
Cribbage Scoring
Hand Score Description
15 2 points Each combination that adds up to 15 is worth 2 points (no matter how many cards are involved).
Pair 2 points Each pair is worth 2 points
Pair Royal 6 points Three of a kind
Double Pair Royal 12 points Four of a kind
Run 1 point per card Cards in consecutive order (i.e. – 5-6-7-8)
Four Card Flush 4 points All four cards in your hand are of the same suit (sometimes the four-card flush does not count, see below)
Five Card Flush 5 points All five cards in your hand (and using the starter) are the same suit
Go 1 point The last player to lay a card
Nobs 1 point Jack of the same suit as the starter. Referred to as “One for his nobs/nob” in the United Kingdom.

Cribbage scoring examples and tips

Often times, there are certain hands that may cause confusion in how you score them properly, specifically around flushes. Check out the example(s) below to see the proper way to score specific hands:

8-9-10-10

So, with 8-9-10-10 your hand is worth 8 points and the cribbage scoring breakdown looks like:

  • 3 for one run of 8-9-10
  • 3 for the run using the other 10
  • and 2 for the pair of 10s

3-3-4-5

For 3-3-4-5 with a 5 as the starter card, you have no less than four different runs, two pairs, and two ways to make 15 points — for a grand total of 20 points!

You score the crib hand in exactly the same way as your own hand, except for the restriction on four-card flushes. Consider flushes to be a last resort; unless you can’t do anything else, let them go. With all the cards in the same suit, you have no possibility of making pairs. Plus, they don’t count during gameplay.

Some numbers in Cribbage are impossible to score — 19, 25, 26, and 27. Because you can’t score 19, referring to a hand as being worth 19 points is a humorous way of referring to a hand worth nothing.