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  • Writer's pictureJon Mullett

Muggins: The Competitive Version of Cribbage

Muggins: a stupid person: often used to describe yourself when you have done something silly or when you feel you are being treated unfairly: I suppose muggins here will have to take care of the cat when they go on holiday (= I will have to do it but I don't want to).

- Cambridge Dictionary

playing muggins in cribbage

In the context of cribbage, Muggins involves players looking for opportunities to get extra points by stealing those that your opponent misses. Muggins add an element of psychological warfare to cribbage and makes it a bit more intense. It's also the version of the game typically played in tournaments or when playing for money.


Growing up, my sister and I played muggins (although we called it "stealing points"). In this version of the game, I took plenty of time counting points in my hand as well as when pegging. When playing her, particularly if my hand was complex, I would add a pause after my count and survey her body language. Thankfully, she's no poker player, so even the slightest sign of a grin or the absence of confirmation to my total ensured left points on the board. I should add that she was the better player than I, and our cribbage matches became the subject of smack talk for the winner.


The word "muggins" is in the British dictionary as that is used to describe a "stupid person". In the USA the term "mug" means "to rob someone". Combine the two and it defines muggins in cribbage - to rob a stupid person of their points. Ouch!


Muggins is the competitive version of cribbage in which a player can "steal" their opponents points if they fail to count them. There are so many card combinations in cribbage and it's easy to miss some points from time to time. And in this version of the game, rest assured your eager-eyed opponent will be looking.


Muggins ads an element of pressure to the game, especially if you're new to the game. And if you are, and your opponent wants to play muggins, tell them to pound sand and go find a new cribbage partner.


Here's how muggins in cribbage works:


During the pegging phase, players take turns playing cards from their hands trying to get combinations that include pairs, runs, and combinations of 15. If your opponent overlooks any possible point combinations during the pegging phase you can call "muggins" after your opponent pegs and take the points he/she missed. The same applies for counting points in your hand after the pegging round. If a player counts their points and misses a combination you may take the points they overlooked.


Muggins adds much more competition and it pays to be alert. Not only must you focus on your own point combinations but be sharp to check your opponents. Cribbage is a game where a swing of two points can easily be the difference between a win and a loss. opponent's plays. It pays to be vigilant and always on the lookout for opportunities your opponent misses.


Muggins adds an exciting and competitive dimension to cribbage, making every round a thrilling contest of skill and observation. Whether you're a seasoned cribbage player or new to the game, mastering Muggins can elevate your gameplay and make each match even more fun, but also more stressful. So, the next time you sit down for a game of cribbage, keep a watchful eye on your opponent's plays, and don't forget to call "Muggins" when the opportunity arises. It might just be the winning move that seals your victory.


- Jon Mullett

Cribbage King




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