Two players use a standard 52 card pack. Cards rank K(high)Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A(low).
To be the first to score 121 points(or 61 points in a 61 point game ) accumulated over several deals. Points are scored mainly for combinations of cards either occuring during the play or occuring in a player's hand or in the cards discarded before the play, which form the crib.
Six cards are dealt face down to each player. At the end of each hand, the played cards are put back into the pack and the whole pack is shuffled for the next deal.
Each player chooses two cards to discard face down to form the crib. These four cards are set aside until the end of the hand. The crib will count for the dealer (The dealers name is noted underneath the crib) - non-dealer will try to throw cards that are unlikely to make valuable combinations, but must balance this against keeping a good hand for himself. Dealer, on the other hand, may sometimes find it pays to place good cards in the crib - especially if they cannot be used to best advantage in hand.
After the crib is filled, a card will be revealed from the pack. This turned up card is called the start card. It is not used during the play of the cards but in the show it will count for combinations as part of both players' hands as well as of the dealer's crib.
If the start card is a jack, the dealer immediately receives 2 points - this is called Two for his heels.
Beginning with the non-dealer, the players take turns to play single cards. In this stage of the game the total pip value of the cards played by both players is counted, starting from zero and adding the value of each card as it is played. This total must not exceed 31. When no more cards can be played without going over 31, the count is restarted from zero. The pip values of the cards are:
Ace = 1; 2 to 10 = face value; jack = 10; queen = 10; king = 10.
As each card is played, the running total will be displayed next to the played cards. If a card is played which brings the total exactly to 31, the player receives 2 points.
A player who cannot play without exceeding 31 does not play a card, but leaves his opponent to continue if possible, scoring points for any further combinations made (see below). Bringing the total to exactly 31 (for 2 points), but if the total is 30 or less and neither player can lay a card without going over 31, then the last player to lay a card scores 1 point for last card.
The cards that have been played are removed from the table and a fresh round of play starts with the cards remaining in the players' hands in exactly the same way. The opponent of the player who played last in the previous round plays first in the new round. This second round of play starts again from zero and again continues until neither can play without going over 31. The last player again scores "1 point for last" or "2 points for 31", and if either player has any cards left there is a further round. Play continues for as many rounds as necessary until both players' cards are exhausted. Towards the end, it may happen that one player has run out of cards but the other still has several cards. In that case the player who still has cards simply carries on playing and scoring for any combinations formed until all his cards have been played.
- Example: Player A has king-king-2-2; player B has 9-8-7-6.
- First round: A plays king - "10"; B plays 6 - "16"; A plays king - "26"; B says "go"; A plays 2 - "28"; A plays 2 - "30 for 3". A pegs 3, namely 2 for the pair of twos and 1 for playing the last card of this round.
- Second round: B plays 8 - "8"; A has no cards left so cannot do anything; B plays 7 - "fifteen two" (B pegs 2 points); B plays 9 "24 for 3 and 1 for last" (B pegs 4 points: three for the run 7-8-9 and one for playing the last card).
Please note: it is never possible to score "one for last" and "31 for 2" at the same time. They are alternatives. If you make exactly 31 for two points just peg those two points - you do not get an additional "one for last" in this case.
Tactical note: It is often worth keeping low cards in hand for this phase of the game, especially when there is a strong possibility of being able to peg out before one's opponent.
A player who makes any of the following scores during the play scores them immediately.
- If you play a card which brings the total to 15 you peg 2 claiming Fifteen two.
- As mentioned above, if you play a card which brings the total to exactly 31 you peg 2.
- If you play a card of the same rank as the previous card (e.g. a king after a king) you peg 2 for a pair. Note that (for example) a 10 and a queen do NOT make a pair even though they are both worth 10 points.
- Pair Royal:
- If immediately after a pair a third card of the same rank is played, the player of the third card scores 6 for pair royal.
- Double Pair Royal:
- Four cards of the same rank, played in immediate succession. The player of the fourth card scores 12.
- A run or sequence is a set of 3 or more cards of consecutive ranks (irrespective of suit) - such as 9-10-jack or 2-3-4-5. Note that ace is low so, for example, ace-king-queen is not a run.
The player of a card which completes a run scores for the run; the score is equal to the number of cards in the run. The cards do not have to be played in order, but no other cards must intervene.
Example: cards are played in the following order: 4-2-3-5-6. The player of the 3 scores 3 for a run, then the player of the 5 scores 4, and the player of the 6 scores 5.
Another example: 4-2-3-4-3. The player of the first 3 scores 3 for the run 4-2-3. Then the player of the second 4 score 3 for the run 2-3-4. The player of the second 3 scores nothing because the 3 does not complete a run.
Another example: 4-2-6-5-3. The final 3 scores 5 points for a 5-card run. Nothing is scored before then, because there is no run until the 3 is played.
- Last Card:
- If neither player manages to make the total exactly 31, whoever played the last card pegs 1.
Note that to score for pair, pair royal, double pair royal or run, the cards must have been played consecutively during a single round of play. If one player had to say "go" while the combination was being formed, the combination is still valid, but if both players are unable to play, causing a new round of play to be started from zero, all combinations are started afresh.
- Example 1: Player A has 10, 10, 9, 6; player B has 7, 6, 5, 4.
- A plays 9, B plays 6 (scoring fifteen two), A plays 6 (scoring two for a pair), B plays 5. The total is now 26; A has to say "go", so B plays 4, scoring three for a run, plus one for last. The A begins again with 10, B plays 7, and A plays the other 10, scoring one for last.
- Example 2: Player A has 10, 8, 7, 5; player B has 7, 6, 5, 4.
- A plays 8, B plays 7 (scoring fifteen two), A plays 7 (scoring two for a pair), B plays 6. The total is now 28; neither can play, so B scores one for last. If A now begins again with a 5, A does not score for a run, because the 7 and 6 were played in the previous round of play (before the total was reset to zero).
Players now retrieve the cards that they put down during the play and score for combinations of cards held in hand. First the non-dealer's hand is exposed, and scored. The start card also counts as part of the hand when scoring combinations. All valid scores from the following list are counted.
- Any combination of cards adding up to 15 pips scores 2 points. For example king, jack, five, five would score 10 points altogether: 8 points for four fifteens, since the king and the jack can each be paired with either of the fives, plus 2 more points for the pair of fives.
- A pair of cards of the same rank score 2 points. Three cards of the same rank contain 3 different pairs and thus score a total of 6 points for pair royal. Four of a kind contain 6 pairs and so score 12 points.
- Three cards of consecutive rank (irrespective of suit), such as ace-2-3, score 3 points for a run. A hand such as 6-7-7-8 contains two runs of 3 (as well as two fifteens and a pair) and so would score 12 altogether. A run of four cards, such as 9-10-J-Q scores 4 points (this is slightly illogical - you might expect it to score 6 because it contains two runs of 3, but it doesn't. The runs of 3 within it don't count - you just get 4), and a run of five cards scores 5.
- If all four cards of the hand are the same suit, 4 points are scored for flush. If the start card is the same suit as well, the flush is worth 5 points. There is no score for having 3 hand cards and the start all the same suit. Note also that there is no score for flush during the play - it only counts in the show.
- One For His Nob:
- If the hand contains the jack of the same suit as the start card, you peg One for his nob.
Note that when scoring a hand, the same card may be counted and scored as part of several different combinations.
After non-dealer's hand has been shown and the score adjusted, dealer's hand is shown, scored in the same way. Finally the dealer counts the four cards of the crib and scores them with the start card. The scoring is the same as for the players' hands except that a flush in the crib only scores if all four crib cards and the start card are of the same suit. If that happens the flush scores 5.
As soon as someone reaches or passes 121, that player wins the game. This can happen at any stage - during the play or the show, or even by dealer scoring two for his heels. It is not necessary to reach 121 exactly - you can finish by scoring 2 more when you were on 120 and still win. All that matters is that your opponent's score is less than 121 at the time.