Crib Rummy   -- an Original Card Game

Invented by Howard Fosdick (V 1.0) ©

Overview: Ever feel like putting your cribbage board to use for some game other than Cribbage? In Crib Rummy, contestants play rummy to race their pegs across the board.

Players: 2 to 4 players.

Equipment: Two 52-card packs with identical backing, plus 2 Jokers, for a total of 106 cards. A standard 120-peg cribbage board.

Card Ranking: Cards rank from low to high: A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K. Aces may only be played low. The two Jokers are wild cards that can represent any other card.

Deal: Deal each player 11 cards. Turn one card face-up on the table to start the Discard Pile. The remaining cards are placed face down next to it and become the Draw Pile.

Goal: Be first to move your peg from the start to off the cribbage board (121 pegs).

Play: In his turn, a player:

(1) Either draws one card from the Draw Pile --OR-- he immediately melds the top card of the Discard Pile.

If the player chooses the top card of the Discard Pile, he must immediately meld it. He may do this with any combination of cards already on the table and card(s) in his hand. He may not use any other cards from the Discard Pile to create this meld other than the top card.

After melding the top card, the player then is required to take the next 6 cards from the Discard Pile into his hand. (If there are less than 6 cards available, he takes all that are available.)

(2) The player optionally makes any legal melds he wishes. He may:

  1. Lay one or more new meld(s) to the table.
  2. Extend any existing meld(s) of his own.
  3. Extend any meld(s) his opponent has played to the table -- only if he has made at least one meld to the table himself.

(3) The player ends his turn by discarding one card face up onto the top of the Discard Pile. (If he took up the entire Discard Pile, this single upcard forms the start of a new Discard Pile.)

(4) If he scored points, the player moves his peg forward on the cribbage board.

Discard Pile: The Discard Pile must be kept squared at all times so that only the topmost card is visible. Players may not “peek” to see cards below the upcard.

Melding: A matched set of cards or meld consists of three or more cards. The two kinds of melds are:

Sets 3 or 4 cards of the same rank (suits are irrelevant) Example: K-K-K
Runs 3 or more cards of the same suit in sequence Example: 3-4-5-6-7 of spades

The minimum meld is 3 cards. A Set meld can contain a maximum of 4 cards. Runs may extend up to a maximum of 13 cards (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K).

Players can extend either their own or their opponent's melds – but they can only play on their opponent's melds after they have made at least one meld to the table themselves.

A player may take the top card from the Discard Pile and meld it even if he has not yet played any meld to the table.

Melds may only be extended by adding additional card(s). They may not be combined, split, or otherwise manipulated.

Scoring: Players move their pegs forward on the cribbage board when they score melds:

Meld: Points Scored:
Set of 3 cards   2
Adding 4th card to a Set of 3   2
Run of 3   3
Adding 4th card to a Run   3
Adding 5th card to a Run   4
Adding 6th card to a Run   4
Adding 7th card to a Run   4
Adding 8th card to a Run   5
Adding 9th card to a Run   5
Adding 10th card to a Run   5
Adding 11th card to a Run   6
Adding 12th card to a Run   6
Adding 13th card to a Run   10

Examples: Laying down a three-card run scores 3 points. Adding a 4th card to that run scores 3 points. Adding a 5th card scores 4 points.

Whether the 4th and 5th cards are played when the run is first laid down, or whether they are added in subsequent turns, they score the same points.

Players must peg their points as their last action in their turn. If they forget to peg their points, they forfeit them.

Rummy: If a player plays all cards in his hand and goes out (or rummies), he scores for all cards left in his opponent's hand, at a rate of 2 points per card.

Hand End: A deal ends when one player goes out by melding his entire hand to the table. The player may go out (or rummy) with or without a final discard.

If the Draw Pile goes empty during play, the player who drew the final card plays his turn. Then the hand ends.

Game End: A Game ends when one player traverses the entire cribbage board. "Pegging out" requires at least 121 points on a standard cribbage board. Competitors get to take their final turn if due.

Advanced Rules: Players must keep their hands in view of others at all times and tell opponents how many cards they have in hand upon request.

Randomly select who plays first in the first hand. For every subsequent hand, the player who is behind gets to choose whether to go first. He announces his choice after the deal has occurred and he has seen the initial upcard for the hand.

For 3 or 4 Players: Play with a 3-lane or 4-lane cribbage board. Or use different coloured pegs on a 2-lane board.

For 3 players, whoever rummies scores 1 point per card still in opponents' hands. For 4 players, rummying scores 1/2 point per each card still in opponents' hands (round up if necessary).

Optional Rules: For a shorter game, call Game at 61 points. For a longer Game, traverse down and back on the cribbage board (241 points).

You can up the tempo of the game by adding a two more Jokers to the deck, and allowing Aces to be played either low and high instead of only low (ie, allowing both A-2-3 and Q-K-A).

Tips for Play:

  • When you take up the Discard Pile (instead of drawing a card from the Draw Pile), you get a maximum of 7 cards: the upcard, plus the 6 cards immediately below it.
  • Getting a meld out early ensures you can play on your opponent's melds.
  • It helps to remember what cards are hidden in the Discard Pile.
  • Runs offer greater scoring opportunity than sets... but only if you are the player who extends them!
  • Statistical probabilities for melds change as cards are played. Be flexible in which cards you seek; shift your goals as appropriate as play matures.
  • Some melds will become "locked" or unplayable. For example, if you meld A-2-3 in spades, and see that a set of three 4's on the table includes both 4's of spades, you know the A-2-3 meld can not be extended on either the high or low ends.
  • Sets are always locked at 4 cards.
  • One way to win is to rummy early -- and collect big penalty points from your opponent's hands. An alternative strategy focuses on piling up as many meld points as possible. Let your cards and your opponent's behaviour dictate your approach.
  • Beware the “low card trap”. Late in the game, if you hold only a card or two in hand, you could get into a situation where you can only draw and discard one card each turn. Unless you believe you will shortly rummy, it may be wiser to keep several cards in hand.
  • If your opponent only has one or a few cards left late in the game, dump all the cards you can by melding everything possible before he rummies.

Click here for a Scoring Summary Chart.

Differences from Other Rummies:

There are literally hundreds of rummy variations. Crib Rummy features three unique concepts:

  1. Scoring escalates as runs lengthen and the hand matures
  2. The cribbage board transforms the game into a race
  3. Players take 7 cards when picking up the Discard Pile (rather than all of them)

License: Feel free to print, copy, and distribute these rules, so long as you retain this paragraph. Invented by Howard Fosdick © 2023, distributed under Creative Commons License BY-ND.      HOME