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Card Games

Card games are probably the most widespread and popular of all games. Most people have a standard fifty two card pack in their house, but in the twentieth century many popular games have been invented which need a special pack. The boisterous Pit card game has become a family classic and the Phase 10 card game that is such a favourite in America now has a dedicated following in the UK. There are also games that are played with special score pads or double decks, like the Canasta card game.

There are hundreds of card games but most of them have a few things in common. Cards have an element of luck because of the shuffle at the beginning of the game. But there is a great deal of skill involved when playing the hand you have been dealt. This combination makes them great for families because the older, more experienced players are not always at an advantage. Card games are sometimes known as games of ambush, because you can't see another player's strategy.

Cards are historically associated with gambling and vice and they are banned from pubs in case the heady mixture of cards, beer and losing money should get too much for the British people. One exception to this law, because of it's tradition as the most popular British game, is Cribbage.

Cribbage Rules

Cribbage seems have developed from the game of Noddy. The invention of the crib is generally ascribed to Sir John Suckling, a great character of the 17th century. One story goes that he made his fortune by giving marked cards as gifts to the British aristocracy and then winning money from them.

Cribbage is played with a fifty two card pack, Aces are low. Each round in the game is scored and the scores are counted on a cribbage board. The first player to get 121 points, there and back again on the board, wins.

The Deal

Cut the cards, the player with the lowest card deals six cards each, the other player goes first. The deal alternates throughout the game.

The Discard

Each player throws away two of their cards leaving them with four cards each. The four cards which have been thrown away form the crib. Later the dealer will get to count the crib in his own score.

The player that did not deal will try to throw away the most useless cards and keep the cards which give him the best scoring combinations.

The dealer may want to throw away the cards that give the best scoring combinations, because they will be able to count them later. This will make more sense after a few rounds.

No-one is allowed to look at the crib yet.

The Play

The player who did not deal cuts the pack and then turns over the top card, this card is the Starter.

If it is a Jack this player immediately says "two for his heels" and gets two points. Then it his turn.

Take it in turns to lay a card from your hand and say what all the cards that have been laid add up to. Keep your hands seperate, you will need them later.

Each person must continue to play if they can lay cards that don't make the total score over 31. If you can't go you must say "Go" and the other player will lay as many of their cards as they can until they are as close as they can get to 31.

When you've reached 31, or as close to it as you can get, you start again from zero. Turn over the cards that you played in the last round so they are face down. If one player has been out they are back in when the count begins again. You do this until all the cards have been laid even if it means that one player has to do a round on their own.

In any round a player that makes the total fifteen gets 2 points, the player that lays the last card in any round gets 1 point "for the Go" or 2 points if they manage to hit 31 exactly.

As you lay the cards you can also get points for making pairs and runs. So player one lays a seven of Diamonds, player two a seven of Hearts and gets 2 points for the pair, player one then lays seven of Spades and gets 6 points and player two lays seven of Clubs and gets 12 points. Play then continues up to 31 in the normal way.

Or, player one lays a five, player two a six, player one a seven and gets 3 points for the run. If player two then lays an eight he gets four for the run.

The Show

The player that did not deal lays his cards in front if him and counts up the scores that come from those four cards and the Starter, making a five card hand. You can use every card as many times as you want in a different combination of scoring hands, so three queens count as three different pairs. Then the dealer counts his own hand and then the dealer turns over the crib and counts that, so the dealer will generally score the most and it is important to deal alternately.

Scoring in the show

In the show you score for your cards as follows, picture cards counted as ten, aces are one.
If the Starter is not a Jack and you have the Jack of the same suit you get "One for his Nob", 1 point.
Fifteen, two cards that make fifteen, 2 points
Pair, two cards of the same rank, 2 points
Pair Royal, three cards of the same rank, 6 points
Double pair royal, four cards of the same rank 12 points
Run, three or more cards in ranking order, 1 point per card
Flush, four cards of the same suit in one hand.


If your opponent notices that you have missed a score that you might have taken he calls "Muggins" and takes that score for himself, so it's important to concentrate when you are scoring, and when you're not.

After the Show you deal again and play another round. You keep playing until someone has scored 121, there and back again on the Cribbage board.









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