How to Play Cribbage for Money
Cash Cribbage: Play for money, but keep it friendly.
Cribbage is a timeless game, beloved by countless players all over the world. For more than four centuries, it’s brought together families, friends, and acquaintances for a fun-filled evening around the table. Most enjoy the game for its inherent entertainment value, while some groups up the ante, putting a friendly stake on the outcome.
Playing Cribbage for money can certainly make your sessions more interesting. First, a few key notes to remember:
- Keep it Fair: All players should be equally familiar with Cribbage. Do not play for cash when introducing a new player to the game; let them get the hang of it first.
- Low Stakes, Light Mood: If you’re playing among friends, keep the stakes friendly, or you may not be friends for much longer. It’s easier to maintain a light and pleasant mood when you can’t lose your shirt.
- Can I Get That in Writing? Make sure the rules and payout structure are completely clear to everyone before the game begins. Have them written out on paper for anyone to review before, during, or after a game, to help prevent arguments.
Ways to Play Cribbage for Cash
If you’re playing online or in a structured tournament, the buy-ins and payouts will be designated for you. In a friendly home game, however, it’s up to the host and other players to set the rules. There are a few common ways you can go about it.
Penny or Nickel a Point – Friendliest Version
In the past, (and still today in other countries) it was common to play “penny a point” Cribbage games. It is a simple concept. The points you win by equate to the number of pennies you win. It’s not the total score, but the difference in score.
So let’s say you win by 25 points (121 to 96). You would receive $0.25. If you win by just 3 points, you receive $0.03.
It’s a nice, cheap way to spice up the game, and gets even more spicy for a skunk or double skunk. The winner receives a 2x payout for a skunk, and a 4x payout for a double skunk.
Of course, you may find it harder to play by these rules in Canada today, as the nation began phasing out one-cent coins in 2013. They are still legal tender, of course, but most of us don’t have or use them anymore. Alternatively, you could do one of the following. You can “round up” the final total to the nearest nickel. Or, if it’s not too rich for any player’s blood, you can increase the stakes to “nickel a point”. Just make sure you bring a lot of nickels in case you get skunked!
Cribbage for Dollars+ – Ruthless Version
This is a more cut-throat way to play real money Cribbage, but if you’re in a hard-core group with enough extra cash to spare, it definitely adds an element of passion for the win. Several of my friends play by these rules, and I assure you, it can get quite fierce!
In this version, the winner gets $2 just for winning the game. In addition, the winner receives a nickel per point for the difference in score. A skunk pays 2x, and a double skunk 3x.
For example, if you win 121 to 106, you would receive $2.75; $2 for the win, and $0.75 for winning by 15 pegs. If the score ends 121 to 55, the payout jumps to $5.30. That’s $2 for the win, and $3.30 for winning by 66 points with a 3x double skunk multiplier.
$1 to Win, $2 to Skunk – Perfect Median
If penny games aren’t exciting enough, but $2-$5+ sounds a bit too steep. If neither of those ideas sounds appealing, you can always set a fixed win amount. A $1 game is the usual price point. The winner gets $1, no matter what the difference in score is, except for a skunk, which doubles to prize to $1. So you’re always winning or losing $1-$2 per game. It’s just enough to keep it lively, without breaking any piggy banks.
Cash Cribbage Mix-Up – Pay Per Action
Last but not least, when all else becomes boring, you can add meaningful excitement to the game by setting small prizes for achieving various accomplishments. There’s no specific set of rules for this. Every group can choose the actions worthy of reward, and the value to pin to them. As a suggestive guide, I would recommend something along these lines:
|Every 31 pegged||$0.10|
|Every hand over 20||$0.25|
|The first player to pass 60||$1.00|
|Opponent gets 0 in the crib||$1.00|
Again, these are only suggestions. You’re welcome to alter the prize rates and add or alter the rewarding actions. The more experienced you are, the more interesting you can make playing cribbage for money.
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