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  • Writer's pictureJon Mullett

Play 3-Person Cribbage: Odd Man In.

Updated: 4 days ago

While often played by two people, three player cribbage is a fun twist to this classic game. The number of cards each player is dealt makes for a new element of complexity and strategy, and it's an exciting variation to two player cribbage. It's basically the same as two person cribbage with a few exceptions. Let's walk through the rules for playing 3-person Cribbage.

three player cribbage

Getting Started

Before you start playing 3-person Cribbage, you'll need the following:

  1. A standard deck of 52 playing cards.

  2. A Cribbage board and cribbage pegs.

  3. Three people.

The Setup

  1. Shuffle the deck thoroughly and have each player draw a card to determine the first dealer. The player with the lowest card deals first. The deal then rotates to the player on the left.

  2. The player to the left is dealt the first card, then the deal goes clockwise until all three players have 5 cards. The dealer places one card in a separate pile for the crib.

  3. The player to the right of the dealer cuts the card deck and the dealer flips the cut card face up.

  4. Each player should have a hand of five cards.

The Crib

In 3-person cribbage, each of the three players discard one card into the crib (in addition to the one card the dealer placed in the crib).


Now that the crib is set and the community card is cut, the pegging round begins:

  1. The player to the left of the dealer starts the game by laying down a card face up in front of them.

  2. The following players take turns laying down one card at a time in a clockwise direction.

  3. The pegging round is just like 2 player cribbage...

  4. As the cards are played, players take note of the cumulative value of the cards on the table. The total value must not exceed 31.

  5. Players score points during the pegging round for creating card combinations that total 15 (e.g., 7-8) and 31, pairs, runs of three or more, or for a "Go".

  6. When a player cannot play a card without exceeding 31, they say "Go," and the other players continue to play cards until no one can play without going over 31. Players earn one point for a "Go."

  7. Once all players are out of cards, the pegging phase ends.


After pegging, players count the points in their hands starting with the player to the left of the dealer. The dealer counts last and then counts the crib hand.

The scoring system remains the same as in traditional Cribbage:

  1. Fifteens: Two points for every combination of cards that add up to 15.

  2. Pairs: Two points for every pair of cards.

  3. Runs: Points for sequences of three or more consecutive cards (e.g., 3-4-5 is worth three points).

  4. Flush: Four points if all cards in a player's hand or the crib are of the same suit.

  5. Nobs: One point if a player has a Jack of the same suit as the starter card.

Winning the Game

The game continues until one player reaches 121 points. The player who first reaches or surpasses this score wins the game.

Because the number of cards dealt to each player is five instead of 6, three player cribbage hands are on average less than in 2 person cribbage. Give it a try, and you'll discover that this variation offers a new level of strategy and fun.

Jon (Cribbage King)



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