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Cribbage Instructions: How To Lose At Cribbage

Updated on September 12, 2012
My hand on the left and Bev's on the right; this is how it goes every single time I play her! The Anatomy of a Loser!
My hand on the left and Bev's on the right; this is how it goes every single time I play her! The Anatomy of a Loser!
Cards I never see when playing Cribbage.
Cards I never see when playing Cribbage.
Somewhere out there is someone I can beat!
Somewhere out there is someone I can beat!

I was introduced to the game of Cribbage four years ago. Shortly after Bev and I started dating she showed up one day where I was working (I had a lot of spare time on the job) and suggested that we play a game. She would be glad to teach me she said, and it would be fun.

What she failed to mention is that it would be fun like having a root canal is fun! From what I could surmise by looking at the board I quickly realized that losing a game by fifty points was not good no matter how you tried to spin it. I will give Bev her due; she was patient and humble in her initial victory and not once did she flaunt her superiority. All admirable qualities for sure, but so is compassion which she never bothered to foster while she was cleaning the floor with this novice time and time again.

We have been playing now for four years. Yes, despite the continual beatings, I still love her! Although I have managed to beat her on occasion it is safe to say that she holds a rather large, probably insurmountable, lead over me and will until the day I die. I am not, however, discouraged nor am I saddened. I have decided that it takes a certain amount of talent to lose as often as I have lost and so why not share my dearth of knowledge with all of you out there in hopes that someday you can be as bad at Cribbage as I am? What follows, then, is a tutorial on all the wrong things to do while engaged in a “friendly” game of Cribbage. I hope it is helpful to all of you who aspire to be truly retched at something. In truth I have an ulterior motive for this article: if I can teach you to be as bad as me then maybe someday we will meet and I’ll have someone I can beat. Please, don’t try to thank me, just read on and learn quickly!

I ask only that you take my advice seriously. I have worked long and hard over four years to develop these techniques and if you are just going to treat them with indifference then please do not continue reading. Only those serious in their desire to be the worst need read on.

ALWAYS LEAD WITH A FOUR

Since I was determined early on to learn the game and become better at it (self-delusion is a wonderful thing) I immediately went online to discover the secrets of the game. One of the first things I read was that the safest lead is with a four. The probabilities are low that a four will lead to any points for your opponent and so that should be your initial lead if in fact you have a four.

http://cribbagecorner.com/strategy-lead

Unfortunately Bev knows this all too well. I suspect there are times she will throw away points just to keep that four in her hand so that when I play mine she can play hers and score an easy two points. Was it P.T. Barnum who said there is a sucker born every minute? Well meet Mr. Sucker! After four years I still lead with a four and she still follows with a four and I am well on my way to losing once again.

ALWAYS PUT A FIVE IN THE CRIB

You can refer to the same website listed above for this pearl of wisdom; it is sound reasoning and should net a player easy points as their opponent unwittingly throws a face card or two into the crib meaning instant points. Unfortunately, once again, Bev knows this all too well. I keep putting the fives in the crib and she keeps giving me anything but a face card, leaving me with a perfectly useless five when the counting is done. If nothing else I should get points for being consistent!

NEVER ASK FOR HELP

Call me stubborn if you will but I refuse to ask Bev for advice. There is something about having my face rubbed in the dirt night in and night out that makes me rather reluctant to ask for help from the person doing the rubbing.

Bev obviously knows a few things about the game that I don’t; being on the losing end after four years led me to that conclusion and I think it’s a fairly good one. However, that does not mean I am going to swallow my pride and ask for some tips. Oh no, I’m going to deceive myself into thinking I will eventually figure it out on my own. The proverbial light bulb will go off above my head and victory shall be mine….and right after that happens my writing will be noticed by a publisher and my book will sell millions of copies and I will have a syndicated column and Oprah will sing my praises and……….

ACT COCKY

I know, most of you are asking yourself how anyone who has lost for four years could act cocky and honestly I don’t know the answer to that one. All I know is each night as we set up the board I begin to be filled with confidence, certain that this is going to be the night that the tables are turned forever. My persona changes to that of a winner, a man confident in himself and his abilities, and truth be told my confidence tends to approach cockiness as the game begins.

Never fear: just as in a Greek tragedy my wings are clipped and I fall back down to earth after the first or second hand, never to be in the running again. I am beaten soundly, whipped to a bloody pulp, and once again told by my love that I played a good game and I seem to be improving! Yep, improving, which means I only lost by forty points rather than the customary fifty. You’ve come a long way billybuc!

ALWAYS TOSS THE WRONG CARDS INTO THE CRIB

This is not as easy as it may seem at first glance; it takes a certain amount of talent to consistently throw the wrong cards away, leaving oneself, by extension, with the wrong cards. One would think that the Law of Averages would eventually swing the pendulum of fate in my direction but it never happens. That, my friends, is a true gift!

I don’t care what combination of cards I’m dealt and I don’t care what my best intentions may have been or whether I played the percentages perfectly, the fact of the matter is that time and time again the cards I put in the crib or give to Bev are the wrong cards at the wrong time. It is a knack I have and if you ever want to be as bad as I am you will need that knack or you can forget about it.

ALL IS NOT LOST FOR YOU

Rest assured that if I live to have an average life span I will be dead and buried in fifteen years so you have a real shot at being the worst cribbage player on the planet if you just hang in there and polish your craft. Fifteen years of singular dedication is not that long to be the best….er…worst! Think of the great artists....Van Gogh…Rembrandt….Charles Schultz….they all worked for decades to become the best. Think of the great athletes….Ali….Montana…..Ruth……Ronald Reagan…it took unmatched dedication for them to reach the zenith of their sport.

The summit is within reach; all you have to do is strap on those crampons and go for the top. You have just received some pretty good advice from The King of Losing and I willingly pass these tips to you in hopes that when it comes time to pass on the torch one of you will be ready to pick it up and continue my legacy. Oh, my best word of advice for you….play Bev as often as possible! Live long and prosper!

What level of Cribbage player are you?

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    • geoffclarke profile image

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Another great article, billybuc. I love crib although I generally only play at Christmas and Thanksgiving when my buddy comes round. We're pretty evenly matched, although he'd have you believe otherwise. Anyway, it's a great game. Thanks for sharing your tips on what not to do! Voted up! Geoff

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Geoff, my pleasure and thanks for dropping by and reading my foolishness!

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 5 years ago from SE MA

      My father taught me cribbage when I was very young. The very first thing I learned to say about the crib was "Fifteen-two and the rest won't do".

      I play cribbage online once in a while. I don't like playing Muggins (where you can take the points your opponent missed) because it just slows down the game too much. People who play Muggins tend to take it way too seriously for my taste anyway.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a great game; I just wish I was better at it. Thanks for the comment. Maybe I'll try the online game soon.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sorry billy but I couldn't check off what level cribbage player I am. Never played, know nothing about the game and I either don't personally know anyone who does play, or the subject has never come up.

      Just curious...where did this game originate? England, maybe? It sounds like a fun way for couples to entertain themselves. Hubby and I like to play a game of Scrabble now and then. He is so ridiculously competitive, (MEN!) I prefer he win because I can't stand to see a grown man cry!!

      GO BEV!!!! lmao

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I have finally overcome my competitive spirit in board and card games. I once had the need to play cut-throat Monopoly but I'm glad to say I have kicked the habit. Having said that, I now believe that losing builds character and I have a whole bunch of character built up. Now I will let you get back to your nature walks. Thanks for dropping by and commenting...you are appreciated by this hubber.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 5 years ago from SE MA

      Oh, I forgot this: "Fifteen-two, pair 4 and there is no more"

      And the very rare "29. Go get a camera!" :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If I ever get a 29 I will retire from the game! :)

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 5 years ago from SE MA

      It's just like a royal straight flush in poker. Play long enough and it will happen.

      Though the one time I got that royal straight flush, nobody else had a thing - gaining me nothing but the antes. What a waste. The other time was in a 7 card stud game and I was tired and folded, thinking it was just a flush. That wasn't a royal, though.

      I have had a 29 in cribbage. Once. I think I still lost the game :)

    • profile image

      Jordan Wiklund 5 years ago

      Funny stuff, sir!

      I shared your story on my Facebook page, "Cribbageland." Good luck out there!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I thank you Jordan; glad you got a laugh out of it and thank you for sharing it.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks for the advice! I've never played cribbage before, but now I am confident I can totally lose in a major way if I play. Voted up and shared!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I enjoy playing cribbage but have not played in some time now. Thanks for the lead with a four tip. Never heard that one before but makes sense to me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jeannie, I'm always willing to share my knowledge and help a friend out. :) Thank you for dropping by and as always you are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Susan, what is funny is I took time to research that move so I could get an advantage only to learn that my partner has known it for decades and was just waiting for me...life is cruel sometimes. :) Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.

    • profile image

      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      LOL...you may need professional help (as stated in your poll)! Ok, I loved this hub! You and Bev remind me of how Micah and I play dice games like bowling. He always wins and I kiss him and cheer him on when he bowls a strike! Card games really show the good and sometimes in a relationship. It is even fun to have a "victory" dance after...lol! Great hub to bring smiles to my face tonight! Now, I get to learn a new game!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audra, it is a foregone conclusion that I am going to lose, but we have great fun in my losing, and each game brings us closer together.....so I am, in fact, a winner. :)

      Thank you dear friend; have a wonderful evening.

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