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Nobs, Muggins, His Heels & Right Jack: How to Score Cribbage

Muggins, Nobs, Right Jack and His Heels in Cribbagescoring
Muggins, Nobs, Right Jack and His Heels in Cribbage

Confused by muggins, nobs, right jack and heels? Not to worry. Cribbage scoring can take a little getting used to. This article goes through how to score each phase.

In Cribbage, points are pegged (scored) right after they are counted. This can become very important toward the end of the game when one or both players are approaching 121. When a player reaches 121 they win and the game ends immediately. The other player doesn’t get the chance to count their points. They lose even if their points would have tied or exceeded their opponent’s.

Muggins, Nobs, Right Jack and His Heels in Cribbage

First, a quick rundown on some of the more unfamiliar terms. More on them later:

  • Muggins: a rule that allows someone to claim points their opponent missed.
  • His Nobs & the Right Jack: holding the Jack of the starter card suit.
  • His Heels: a Jack starter card.

Cribbage Scoring: Points in the Starter

The first time points can be scored in a Cribbage hand is when the starter card is turned over. If the starter card is a Jack the dealer pegs 2 points, referred to as “his heels”. And yes, if the dealer’s score is 119 at this time, he wins the game with this fortunate turn of a card.

Cribbage Scoring: Points During the Play

During the play, also called the pegging, players alternate laying down cards. If a played card meets a scoring condition, the points are pegged immediately. Only the player who laid the last card gets the points.

During the pegging, points are scored for:

  • Bringing the total count to exactly 15 or 31 (2 points each)
  • Pairing the previous card (2 points)
  • Making three of a kind—a pair royal—with the previous two cards. (6 points)
  • Making four of a kind—a double pair royal—with the previous three cards. (12 points)
  • Making a run, which is a straight or sequence, of three to seven cards. (3 to 7 points, 1 point per card)
  • Laying the last card where the total count is under 31, referred to as “the go”. (1 point)

Cribbage Scoring: Points During the Show

After the play, the next phase begins, which is the show. Starting with the non-dealer (the pone), each player counts the points in the hand they just played in combination with the starter card. When all the pone’s points have been counted, the total is pegged on the scoreboard right away, and then the dealer’s are counted and pegged. Again, the order is important, as the pone could win the game here before the dealer is able to count their points.

Points are scored for:

  • Combinations that total 15 (2 points)
  • Pairs (2 points)
  • Pair royals (three of a kind, 6 points)
  • Double pair royals (four of a kind, 12 points)
  • Runs (sequences or straights) of at least three cards (1 point per card, minimum of 3 points)
  • Flushes (cards of the same suit) of at least four cards in the hand, not including the starter card (4 points). If the starter card is also the same suit as the flush in hand, it scores 5 points. Three cards of a suit in the hand plus the same suit in the starter card doesn’t make a flush and scores nothing.
  • Holding the Jack of the same suit as the starter card, referred to as “his nobs” and “the right Jack”. (1 point)

Cribbage Scoring: Points in the Crib

After the dealer has counted and pegged their hand during the show, they turn over the crib for scoring. The crib is a four-card hand just like the other ones and is scored the same way in combination with the starter card. It’s scored just like a hand during the show as described above with one exception:

  • Only a flush of five cards scores—all four in the crib and the starter must be the same suit (5 points). If all four cards in the crib are the same suit but the starter card is of a different suit, it scores nothing.

Otherwise, the crib is scored like the other hands and then the points are pegged for the dealer right away.

Cribbage Scoring: Muggins

An optional but often used scoring rule in cribbage is “muggins”. If a player overlooks any points they have earned and doesn’t announce them, the opponent can say “muggins”, identify the missed points, and then peg the points for themselves.

If the “muggins” rule is in effect, players should be aware before the game starts.

Cribbage Scoring Summary

Here’s a recap of everything that scores at every phase of the game:

  • Jack starter card, 2 points for dealer (his heels)
  • Jack of same suit as starter card, 1 point for holder (his nobs or right jack)
  • Combination totaling 15, 2 points
  • Bringing the count to 31, 2 points
  • Laying last card where total is under 31, 1 point
  • Pair, 2 points
  • Three of a kind, 6 points
  • Four of a kind, 12 points
  • Run, 1 point per card (minimum 3 points)
  • Flush, 4 or 5 points

I hope this overview of Cribbage scoring has been helpful. Muggins, Nobs, Right Jack and His Heels in Cribbage won’t be confusing anymore!

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