Top 5 Cribbage Strategy Tips and How to Play
Gain A Statistical Advantage While Playing Cribbage
Is winning at the game of cribbage a skill, or is it luck? The statistical advantage goes to the player who understands and applies sound strategy, but even the best cribbage players in the world are going to have a tough time beating an opponent that is having a good run of luck. You might not want to bet the farm on your next game of cribbage, no matter how good you think you are. You can' beat luck!
It is possible to learn the basic playing and scoring instructions to a game of cribbage in only a few minutes, and after just a couple of runs at it you might even start formulating your own strategies for future games. There are a good many players who have been pegging for years and who have never given it much thought.
There are a few easy-to-remember tips and strategies that should give you a fighting chance against a seasoned opponent, or a strong advantage over someone just starting out. Either way It's always fun to know a tactic or two that your opponent doesn't.
Using the 5 tips featured on this page will give you a better chance, (statistically) to win your next game, and If you really want to step it up most serious cribbage players will agree you should start yourself a small library on the subject. You might even consider keeping a journal of your game play.
1. Deal First
One easily overlooked tactic, especially for rookie players, is to get the first deal. Everything else being equal you should win almost 6 out of 10 games where you deal first.
The traditional cribbage custom is to cut low card, with Ace being the lowest, to see who deals first, while alternating the deal after that. The group I play with has always cut high card, with Ace being the highest card, to see who deals first, either is fine and works to the same outcome. If you are going to cut for first deal it may be wise to clarify whether you are cutting to high or low before the cut.
If you can manage to deal first in a game of cribbage you will have an advantage before you even begin playing. This advantage becomes of greater importance in a match with only a few games, such as best of three. At the very least don't overlook the importance of missing or passing your deal. - You should never pass your deal if you are trying to win at cribbage.
2. Learn to Properly Count Your Hand
If you miscount any points while pegging, they are simply gone. This strategy is a matter of educating yourself by learning to recognize and properly count all of the possible point combinations associated with your hand.
It's unfortunate, but I suppose many people enjoy playing the computerized and online versions of the game so that they do not need to worry about accurate counting. In my opinion the responsibility of accurate tallying and pegging is integral to the game.
In some regions you'll find that the is played with what is known as "muggins", which makes it permissible for your opponent to steal away any points from you that you may have overlooked. Let's say you declare 8 points and forget to take a point for the nobs and your opponent corrects your count to 9... they get the missed point.
The counting aspect of the game is very important and knowing how to count quickly and accurately will enhance your chances of winning.
3. Throw a 5 in Your Crib
One strategy that can gain you a couple of points is to throw a 5 card into your crib, unless it adds four or more points to your scoring hand. The basis for this is that no had containing a 5 can score less than 2 points.
So if you have a 5 in your hand and are not sure whether to keep it or throw it into your own crib, a good strategy is to throw the 5 card into your crib. If the option is to keep the 5 or throw it into your opponents crib, you will need to have a strong scoring hand of your own to justify that.
4. Watch Out For Runs When an Opponent Leads to You
When an opponent leads to you they are quite often trying to set up a run of three cards. This is especially true if an opponent leads an 8 or a 7 hoping you will play to 15 giving them an opportunity to bring in a 6 or a 9 for the run.
If at the end of the sequence you gain two points for the 15 and they gain 3 points for the run you are now fighting for a go just o break even;, giving an advantage your opponent. Sometimes the best strategy is to simply take away an opponents striking power even if it means playing around a couple of points.
5. Play Conservative
Playing cribbage with a conservative style and not gambling for a huge outcome every hand was probably the most successful single strategy I learned.
It's very easy to want to keep a potentially huge hand hoping for a very specific turn of the card, even at the cost of several points. How many times have you broken up a six point hand wagering it on the hopes of a ten, twelve or sixteen pointer? There aren't enough holes on the board for me to count that number.
It's fun to play cribbage lotto, but if you consider an average hand, or an average crib is typically somewhere around five points. then conservative play strategy should give you more control of the board, leave you open to less damaging situations, and give you a better opportunity to win at the game of cribbage.