17 Apr

Canadian Doubles Cribbage Rules – How to Play Cribbage in Canada

Cribbage is an old-fashion card and board game played in many regions of the world. Here in the Great White North, we do things a little differently. By the most common Canadian Doubles Cribbage rules, every hand gets a bit more interesting, and trusting your partner’s intuition is everything.

How to Play Cribbage in Canada - Canadian Doubles Cribbage RulesHow to Play Cribbage in Canada

Canada’s variation of the game only alters the way each hand begins. The game is played with four players; two sets of partners, on a 2-track or 3-track Cribbage board (using two tracks).

The deck is placed in the center of the Cribbage board. Each player will cut the deck. The player with the lowest card is the dealer. In case of a tie, the tying players cut again.

The deck is then shuffled, followed by an optional cut by the player right of the dealer. Then…

  • The dealer deals 10 cards to the Pone (lead player) on their left, and 10 cards to himself, alternating one card at a time per player. Their partners do not receive cards at this time.
  • The Pone and dealer each look at their cards. From the 10 available, they must make two complete, 4-card hands.
  • The Pone will keep one 4-card hand for himself, and pass the other hand to his partner. The remaining two cards will be discarded to the Dealer’s Crib.
  • The Dealer does the same, keeping four cards, passing four to his partner, and discarding two to the crib.

From here, standard Doubles Cribbage rules apply.

Canadian Doubles Cribbage Rules

To start, one player will cut the deck, then flip the top card face up on top of the deck. This is the Starter Card. If this card is a Jack, the player who cut instantly receives 2 points. Some Cribbage rules leave this job to the dealer, but more often, the Pone will perform the starter cut. If no cut is made prior to the deal, the player right of the dealer will make the starter cut.

The object of Cribbage is to be the first team to reach 121 points. Partners will share the same peg for scoring purposes. For every point scored, that team’s peg will move one space along the track. There are three ways to score points.

#1 Pegging Points

During game play, score is generated by pegging, or earning points to move the peg forward on the board. There are multiple ways of scoring in pegging play.

Combination

Points

Description
Total 15 or 31

2

The total value of cards face up equals 15 or 31

Pair

2

Pair of same value cards face up (ex. K-K)
Trio

6

Three same value cards
Quad

12

Four same value cards
Run

# of cards in run

Sequence of cards (ex. 4-5-6-7)
GO

1

Cannot play without exceeding 31; must say “Go”
Last Card

1

Goes to the player who plays the last card.

Play alternates clockwise, each playing one card from their hand, starting with the Pone. A running total of all card values is kept throughout the game. Aces are 1, Face cards are 10, all numerical cards are face value. The value cannot exceed 31, and will start back at zero each time 31 is reached.

#2 Hand Counting

After all cards are played, each player will take their hand and count up all possible points. The Starter Card that was played in the beginning is used by each player, giving all a 5-card hand to work with. Again, there are many ways to earn points based on card combinations, similar to pegging.

Combination

Points

Description
Total 15

2

Any card combination that totals 15 (ex. 8-7, 10-5, 2-3-10, A-4-5-5)

Pair

2

Pair of same value cards (ex. 4-4)
Set

6

Three same value cards
Quad

12

Four same value cards
Run

# of cards in run

Sequence of cards (ex. 4-5-6-7)
4 Flush

4

All 4 cards in hand are same suit
5 Flush

5

All cards in hand + Starter Card are same suit
Nobs

1

Hand contains the same-suit Jack as the Starter Card

#3 Crib Counting

The crib, containing the four cards discarded at the beginning of the hand, is then taken up by the dealer. The dealer will use the same scoring method as Hand Counting (above) to add up any additional points. Only the dealer collects points from crib counting, hence the term ‘Dealer’s Crib‘.

How to Win Cribbage

The first team to reach the end of the Cribbage board with 121 points wins the game. If a hand ends without either team reaching the end, another hand commences. And that’s how to play Cribbage in Canada! If you want to learn more, check out our Cribbage History and Cribbage Strategy sections, or learn the hilarious brow-raising variant of Backwards Cribbage.

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