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  • Writer's pictureJon Mullett

How to Play Three Player Cribbage

Updated: 2 days ago

An interesting adaptation to the traditional 1-on-1 form of cribbage is the three player version. In order to play three player cribbage the board must have three tracking lanes. Some cribbage boards only have two lanes, but a good percentage have a third lane.

Three player cribbage is played much like the two player version. The biggest difference (other than the third player) is the number of cards each player is dealt. Unlike 2 player cribbage where each player is dealt 6 cards, only 5 cards are dealt with three players. To make the crib an even four, the dealer adds one card to the crib after each player is deal their five. So each player puts one card in the crib plus the one the dealer added.

The dealer cut is done by the player to the dealer's left.

Just like two player cribbage, each player starts with four cards in their hand. Play goes clockwise starting with the player on the left of the dealer. Play continues counter clockwise until pegging round is over. Scoring in the pegging round is the same as the two player version of cribbage.

This adaptation of the game provides a new element of strategy to the game. For starters, since each player is dealt one less card (instead of 6), it makes stacking the crib more difficult. Since each player is dealt five cards instead of six there are less combinations of cards to score points, o player hands tend to be lower on average. Pegging also provides a different element. For example, in two player cribbage you could set yourself up for points against your opponent. Lets say player A has a 4, A, Q, K in their hand and they peg first. That player could start with a four in hopes Player B plays a 10 (which is the most probable card to me played). Player A can then play their Ace for 15 and two points. In three player cribbage that's not possible, since it takes two turns before you each player pegs again.

Just like in player hands, the amount of points in the crib tend to be lower (on average). Since each player only discards one card, they can't stack the crib by throwing combinations like pairs, a two card run, or a five(s).

So if you find yourself wanting to play cribbage but have an odd number of players, give three player cribbage a try. It provides a whole new dynamic to the game. It's also a ton of fun!

Jon Mullett

Cribbage King

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