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  • Writer's pictureJon Mullett

Gambling on Cribbage

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

While it is often played as a casual game amongst friends and family, cribbage has also had a fascinating history of gambling associated with it. Like many card games, cribbage has a rich history of gambling.

The Origins of Cribbage

Cribbage is believed to have been invented by Sir John Suckling, an English poet and card game enthusiast, in the early 17th century. It quickly gained popularity and evolved into the game we know today.

The appeal of cribbage lies in its balance of skill and luck, making it an ideal candidate for gambling. Players must strategically discard cards into a crib to maximize their own score while minimizing their opponent's score. The game is typically played with a standard 52-card deck, and the scoring system revolves around combinations, runs, and the unique "crib" aspect.

Gambling on Cribbage

Cribbage has a long and storied history of being associated with gambling. The blend of strategy and chance in the game made it particularly appealing to those looking for some excitement and a chance to win money. Here are some key aspects of cribbage and gambling throughout its history:

  1. Taverns and Social Gatherings: Cribbage was commonly played in taverns and social gatherings, where players would often put money on the line to make the game more interesting. The competitive spirit of cribbage made it a favorite pastime for those who enjoyed both the thrill of the game and the opportunity to win money.

  2. Wagering on the Game: While cribbage can be enjoyed without any money involved, it was often played with wagers, where players would bet on the outcome of the game. These bets added an extra layer of excitement and tension to the matches.

  3. Organized Tournaments: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, cribbage tournaments became popular, attracting large crowds and significant prizes. These events showcased the skill of cribbage players and offered them the chance to compete for substantial sums of money.

  4. High-Stakes Matches: Cribbage has seen its fair share of high-stakes matches between skilled players. These games were often well-publicized, drawing in spectators and large bets. The combination of strategy and chance in cribbage made it a game where even the best player could lose to an underdog.

  5. Cribbage in Literature and Art: Cribbage's association with gambling has been documented in various forms of literature and art. It has made appearances in novels, paintings, and other artistic works that capture the essence of wagering on the game.

Can you Gamble on Cribbage?

The short answer is "yes", you can gamble on just about anything. Although gambling on cribbage is not real common in the USA there are public tournaments.

How to Bet on Cribbage

If you want to gamble with friends, a good way is to bet either by hole or by game. Betting by hole is determining the bet amount ahead of the game and multiplying that be number of holes won by. For example, if you bet $0.10 per hole and win by 25 holes, the loser pays $2.50. Betting by game is done by determining a bet amount (example: $5) and whoever wins gets that amount. In both versions, a rule can be added that states the bet amount is doubled if the loser(s) get skunked.

The history of gambling on cribbage is a testament to the enduring appeal of this classic card game. Cribbage has been a source of entertainment, competition, and even a way to win or lose money for generations. Its unique combination of strategy and chance has made it a beloved pastime that continues to capture the hearts of players worldwide. Whether for fun or stakes, cribbage remains a game where skill and luck converge in a way that keeps players coming back for more.

Jon Mullett

Cribbage King

You can also check out The Card Game King's blog - "Can You Play Cribbage For Money?"

Horn Cribbage Board Gambling on Cribbage

Competitive Cribbage

The Sands hotel in Las Vegas hosts two of the largest cribbage tournaments in the world — the JPW/ACC Open and the Tournament of Cribbage Champions in March. Other top tournaments are held on the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

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