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Contents: Cribbage glossary

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addition method

 
A technique for finding the optimal discard as dealer. Essentially you add the points retained in your hand to the average crib. In most cases the holding with the highest total will return the highest expected average
 

American Cribbage Congress (ACC)

Sanctioning body for organized cribbage in North America and on the Internet
 
 

ACC Internet Cribbage

One of the three components of sanctioned play in North America (the Tournament Trail and Grass Roots being the others). Consists of an annual season of Internet tournaments. Internet Rating Points earned at these events determine national rankings, Internet Championships and titles such as eMaster, eGrand Master and eLife Master. Administered by the American Cribbage Congress
 

Anderson average

The average value (after the cut) of the four cards in your hand assuming no knowledge of the two discarded cards
 

anti-cribbage

See cribbage to lose
 

average crib

The average value of the crib based on the two cards you discard
 

average hand

The average value of a four-card hand after the cut
 

bad eleven

The opposite of a magic eleven. For the player on lead, a two-card combination with a pip value of eleven. Such a combination is weak because it will give up a 31-2 to two ten-cards
 

bad sixteen

The opposite of a magic sixteen. For the player on lead, a two-card combination with a pip value of sixteen. Such a combination is weak because it will give up a 31-2 to 5-x
 

balanced

Strategy in which you try to outscore your opponent. Same as cautious offense
 

Barlow's rule

As pone, when you need a certain cut to put you out, toss dealer cards that are helped by that cut. When you need a certain cut to get close to going out, toss dealer cards that are not helped by that cut
 

board position

Cribbage parlance for the score and identity of the current dealer. At Cribbage Forum, scores are rendered from the perspective of the player in question, with an asterisk denoting the dealer. Thus 14-17* would indicate that you have 14 points and are pone, while your opponent has 17 points and is dealer. Use of the term board position, as opposed to score, suggests an emphasis on board strategy and the alignment of the two players relative to each other and to the positional holes
 

board strategy

A strategy that uses board position to determine how to balance offensive and defensive play
 

break card

An out card
 

Bronze Award

An award given to Grass Roots players who accumulate 1,000 lifetime Grass Roots rating points
 

bust hand/
bust crib

A hand or crib worth no points. Also called a 19 or rock

case

As in "case 5", "case Q", etc. Slang used to refer to the fourth card of a particular suit when the first three have already been seen. E.g., "I got a 29 hand by cutting the case 5 to 5-5-5-J" or "He had the case 3 in his hand end ended up quadrupling me".
 
 

cat

North American slang for crib. The expression derives from the use of the word kitty to denote a pot in other card games
 

cautious offense

Normal play strategy in which you are trying to outscore your opponent. Offense and defense are evenly balanced in this strategy. Compare with playing on, playing off, desperation offense and desperation defense. Sometimes called optimal or balanced play
 

Chambers average

For dealer, the average hand plus the average value of the two cards you discarded to your crib. For pone, the average hand minus the average value of the two cards you discarded to opponent's crib. Also called minimal average
 

close cuts

The number of individual starters that move you to within a few holes (typically three) of victory on your first count. Used as a measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations
 

close ranks

The number of cut ranks (A through K) that move you to within a few holes (typically three) of victory on your first count. Used as a measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations
 

Colvert average

Expected average calculated using DeLynn Colvert's published discarding statistics
 

Colvert exception

In desperation defense situations in the endgame, lead a low card unless you have a mid-card with only one more loser than the low card. In that case lead the mid-card instead
 

Colvert's rule

If you must lead from 5-x, and dealer is holding two cards, lead the 5 if dealer is not showing any ten-cards
 

consolation event

A one-day event at a sanctioned tournament, typically open to players who have been eliminated from the main event. The most common format is a nine-game qualifying round followed by best-of-three single elimination playoffs
  

count

1. The value of a hand
2. To score a hand or crib (also called showing)
3. The cumulative pip value of cards played during a single play series. This cannot exceed 31
 

crib

The four cards formed by each player's discard, counted by the dealer as an "extra" hand at the end of the deal. It is for the crib that the game of cribbage is named
 

cribbage to lose

A cribbage variant in which the object is to lose instead of win. All other rules of normal cribbage, including His Heels, apply. Also called anti-cribbage, reverse cribbage, loser's cribbage, lowball, Polish cribbage, etc.
 

cut

1. The starter
2. The act of cutting the deck for the starter
3. The act of cutting the deck before dealer distributes the cards (required in tournament play but often skipped in informal play)
4. The act of cutting the deck to determine first dealer (the lower card deals first)
 

cut jack

See His Heels
  

dead hole

See stinkhole
 

delta

The amount by which the average crib will vary from its normal value due to the statistical effect of the four cards retained in your hand
 

desperation defense

Strategy in which offense is disregarded entirely in an effort to prevent opponent from scoring any points or a specific number of points. May entail risking a large score in order to reduce the chances of giving up any score. Typically employed on the last deal as dealer. Compare with cautious offense, playing on, playing off, prevent defense and desperation offense
 

desperation offense

Strategy in which defense is disregarded entirely in an effort to score a large or specific number of points. Typically employed on the last deal as pone (see specific count), or when way behind. Compare with cautious offense, playing on, playing off and desperation defense
 

double pairs royal

Archaic term for four-of-a-kind
 

edge cards

The A-2 and Q-K combinations
 

endgame

The final stages of a game, especially the last or next-to-last deal
 

endgame count

A point count system used to find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations
 

expected average

For dealer, the average hand plus the average crib. For pone, the average hand minus the average crib
 

first count

Pone's hand count, so named because pone counts her hand before dealer. This is a significant advantage late on Fourth Street, and forms the basis for board strategy
 

first dealer

The player who was dealer on the first deal of the game
 

first pone

The player who was pone on the first deal of the game
 

First Street

Holes 1 through 30
 

Fourth Street

Holes 91 through 120
 

game hole

The 121st hole in a cribbage board. The first player to reach it wins
 

game points

Points awarded for winning a cribbage game. The most common method is: two game points for a simple win, three game points for a skunk and zero game points for a loss. This system is used in Grass Roots play, in the qualifying rounds of sanctioned tournaments, and for most Internet match play
 

go

1. What you are required to say during the pegging if you have no cards remaining that would keep the count within 31
2. The point your opponent is awarded if you are forced to say go
 

go out

To reach the game hole. To win
 

Gold Award

An award given to players who accumulate 4,000 lifetime Grass Roots rating points. No player has yet earned this distinction
 

Grand Master

A title given to players who accumulate 4,000 lifetime MRPs
 

grand slam

Winning every game of a sanctioned tournament qualifying round or a nine-game Grass Roots tournament
 

Grass Roots

One of the three components of sanctioned play in North America (the Tournament Trail and ACC Internet Cribbage being the others). Features weekly tournaments at local clubs in a nine-game round robin format with no playoffs. Administered by the American Cribbage Congress
 

Grass Roots rating points

Rating points earned through Grass Roots play, used to determine club and division champions (on an annual basis) and Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards (on a lifetime basis). See under qualify. Note that Grass Roots rating points are tabulated separately from Master Rating Points
 

Helper card

A card that creates a score in combination with other known cards
 

Hessel average

Expected average calculated using Craig Hessel's published discarding statistics
 

high card

10, J, Q or K
 

His Heels/His Nibs

A J cut as the starter, worth two points for the dealer
 

His Nobs

The right J
 

Internet Cribbage Program (ICP)

See ACC Internet cribbage
 

Internet Rating Points (IRPs)

Rating points earned through play in ACC-sanctioned Internet cribbage tournaments (see ACC Internet cribbage). Used to determine the Internet Champion and all-Internet team (on an annual basis) and eMaster, eGrand Master and eLife Master titles (on a lifetime basis)
 

ladder

A form of organized play, popular on the Internet, in which players ascend in rank by defeating higher ranked players
 

last card

A one-point score awarded for playing the last card of the deal
 

lead

1. The first card played in a play series
2. To play the first card in a play series
 

Life Master

A title given to players who accumulate 6,000 lifetime MRPs
 

loser

In pegging, any card that opponent can play to score on your last played card. Compare with winner
 

loser's cribbage

See cribbage to lose
 

lowball

See cribbage to lose
 

low card

At Cribbage Forum, used to refer to an A, 2, 3 or 4
 

mid-card

6, 7, 8 or 9
 

magic five

A two-card combination with a pip value of five (i.e., A-4 or 2-3). Valued because if led from, it scores a 15-2 against a ten-card reply
 

magic eleven

A combination of cards whose pip value totals eleven. Such a combination of three cards (if leading) or two cards (if defending a lead) is valued because it scores a 31-2 against ten-cards
 

magic sixteen

A combination of cards whose pip value totals sixteen. Such a combination of three cards (if leading) or two cards (if defending a lead) is valued because it scores a 31-2 against 5-x
 

main event

The primary event at a sanctioned tournament. A main event typically takes place over one or two days, and consists of a 22-game qualifying round followed by best-of-five single elimination playoffs
 

Master

A title given to players who accumulate 2,000 lifetime MRPs
 

Master Rating Points (MRPs)

Rating points earned through Tournament Trail play, used to determine regional and national champions (on an annual basis) and Master, Grand Master and Life Master titles (on a lifetime basis)
 

match

A series of games played against the same opponent
 

Michaelis A-2-3-4

The ploy of discarding 2-3 to your crib from A-2-3-4-x-x in order to maximize your expected average. Named for Mick Michaelis
 

minimal average

See Chambers average
 

Mueller average

Expected average plus average net pegging (assuming balanced play)
 

muggins

Optional rule in which a player is entitled to claim points missed by his/her opponent. Usually not used in tournament and Internet play
 

near cards

Cards separated by one rank, such as A-3, 5-7 or 9-J. Compare with touching cards or edge cards
 

19

A bust hand or crib. So named because there are no cribbage hands worth exactly nineteen points
 

Old Faithful

Joseph Wergin's term for the following pegging trap as pone:

6  x   5  4 (31-5)    x  5 (15-2)  x (25-1)

opening lead

The first card played in the first play series. Also see lead
 

out card

A card well separated in rank from the other three (e.g., the 8 in 2-3-4-8 or the K in 4-5-6-K). Such a card offers protection against getting trapped into pegging runs. Also called break card
 

pairs royal

Archaic term for three-of-a-kind
 

par holes

DeLynn Colvert's term for positional holes
 

pegging

Strictly speaking, the act of claiming a score by moving your pegs on a cribbage board. In North American usage, however, pegging usually refers to the play of the hands and the points scored therein, in contrast to the points scored by counting the hands and crib
 

pegout

A situation where either player can win by pegging
 

pip value

The rank value of a card or combination of cards. In cribbage, an A has a pip value of one, a 2 has a pip value of two, and so forth, but a 10 or face card has a pip value of ten
 

pips

Spots on a playing card, generally in the shape of its suit, used to denote its rank
 

play

The phase of each deal that occurs after cutting the starter, in which players sequentially play their cards face up in an attempt to form scoring combinations. This phase is distinct from the counting of the hands and crib, which immediately follows. To avoid confusion with other less-specialized meanings of the word play, North American players have come to prefer the term pegging
 

play series

A sequence of played cards culminating in a go, 31 or last card
 

playing off

Strategy in which defense is primary and offense is secondary. Typically employed to prevent your opponent from either preserving a positional surplus or overcoming a positional deficit. Also see prevent defense. Compare with cautious offense, playing on, desperation defense and desperation offense
 

playing on

Strategy in which offense is primary and defense is secondary. Typically employed to preserve a positional surplus or overcome a positional deficit. Compare with cautious offense, playing off, desperation defense and desperation offense
 

playoffs

A series of matches, usually single elimination, used in sanctioned tournament events to determine a winner. MRPs and prize money are awarded on a graduated basis to players who compete in the playoffs
 

Polish cribbage

See cribbage to lose
 

pone

Non-dealer
 

positional advantage

A theoretical propensity to win the game based on board position. Typically determined by the score at the start of the deal. Pone has the positional advantage if he has reached, or is within ten points of reaching, a positional hole that dealer has not yet reached. Otherwise dealer has the positional advantage
 

positional deficit

The amount by which the player with the positional disadvantage lags the next positional hole after counting his hand as pone. Also by extension, the amount by which that player can be expected to lag the next positional hole (assuming average scoring) after he next counts a hand as pone. For example, the first pone starts the game with an eight point positional deficit, since average scoring on the first deal (ten points) will leave him eight points short of the next positional hole (18) after he counts his hand. This would be expressed numerically as -8. Also see positional surplus
 

positional disadvantage

The opposite of a positional advantage
 

positional hole

John Chamber's term for those holes on a cribbage board that represent the minimum point of good position for winning with your three counts. At Cribbage Forum, the positional holes are considered to be 18, 44, 70 and 96. Put simply, your strategic objective is to beat your opponent to each of the positional holes
 

positional parity

For the player with the positional advantage, being exactly at (not past) a positional hole. Also referred to as being at par
 

positional standing

A player's score in relation to the desired positional hole, i.e. her positional deficit, positional parity or positional surplus, as appropriate. Typically expressed numerically as -3, 0, +12, etc.
 

positional surplus

The amount by which the player with the positional advantage exceeds the positional hole after counting her hand as pone. Also by extension, the amount by which that player can be expected to exceed the next positional hole (assuming average scoring) after she next counts a hand as pone. For example, the first dealer starts the game with an eight point positional surplus, since average scoring on the first two deals (26 points) will leave her eight points beyond the positional hole (18) after she counts her hand as pone. This would be expressed numerically as +8. Also see positional deficit
 

prevent defense

A special case of playing off in which the objective is to not give up a large score. This may entail giving up smaller scores in order to reduce the risk of a large score. Typically employed when protecting a large lead late in the game. Compare with cautious offense, playing on, playing off, desperation defense and desperation offense
 

Q-pool

Short for qualifying pool. A side pot used to reward the top finishers in the qualifying round of a sanctioned tournament
 

quadruple

In pegging, to play the fourth consecutive card of the same rank
 

qualify

1. To reach the playoffs in a sanctioned tournament event
2. To receive Grass Roots rating points by finishing in the top 20% of a Grass Roots tournament, or by finishing with the same number of game points as another player in the top 20%
 

qualifying round

In sanctioned tournament events, a series of round-robin games used to determine who advances to the playoffs. Under ACC guidelines, the top 25% of players in this round qualify, and the top 12.5% receive extra MRPs based on the number of game points won. Frequently, top qualifiers also receive awards independent of their performance in the playoffs (see Q-Pool, for example)
 

Raggedy Ann

Slang for A-A-6-7-8, worth 13 points
 

Ras average

Short for Rasmussen average. Expected average calculated using George Rasmussen's discarding statistics
 

renege

Failure to play a card that you are legally required to play (i.e., after a go is called). ACC rules mandate a penalty for this infraction
 

reverse cribbage

See cribbage to lose
 

right jack

A J in the hand or crib that matches the starter suit. Worth one point. Also called His Nobs
 

rock

Slang for a bust hand or crib
 

rule of eight

If you lead a low card from a 3/1 lo-hi hand such as A-A-4-x or 2-3-3-x, and dealer replies with a pairable ten-card, take the pair if the pip value of your low cards totals eight or less. Otherwise take the 15-2
 

run

Three or more cards in sequence by rank
 

sanctioned tournament

A competition authorized by the ACC in which winners are eligible for MRPs. Typically sanctioned tournaments occur on weekends, and feature a main event, a consolation event and non-sanctioned satellite events
 

satellite event

An auxiliary event at a sanctioned tournament for which winners do not receive MRPs. Doubles, High Rollers, Saturday Night Special and Cry Baby events are examples of common satellite events
 

Schempp average

The estimated pegging value of a four-card hand, based on an algorithm written by Tim Schempp
 

Second Street

Holes 31 through 60
 

Silver Award

An award given to Grass Roots players who accumulate 2,500 lifetime Grass Roots rating points
 

skunk

A victory by 31 or more points
 

skunk line

A line on a standard cribbage board separating the 90th and 91st holes. To avoid being skunked, it is necessary to cross this line before your opponent wins the game
 

skunk positional hole

One of the three positional holes (14, 40 and 66) that represent the minimum point of good position for crossing the skunk line. To avoid being skunked, your strategic objective is to reach each skunk positional hole before your opponent reaches the corresponding normal positional hole
 

specific count

A common endgame situation in which pone discards to maximize the chances of obtaining the precise number of points needed to go out
 

starter

A card cut from the deck by pone after each player has discarded. This card is turned face-up and treated as a common fifth card for purposes of scoring the hands and crib. Also called the cut or (chiefly in the UK) the up-card
 

steal last card

As pone, to win a point for last card when dealer is forced to play an extra card after pone says go
  

stinkhole

Cribbage slang for the next to last (120th) hole. Also called the dead hole
 

strategy

Long-term planning. Compare with tactics
  

street

One of the four 30-hole divisions of a standard cribbage board. See First Street, Second Street, Third Street and Fourth Street
  

supercuts

A measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations. Consists of winning cuts plus close cuts
 

superranks

A measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations. Consists of winning ranks plus close ranks
 

tactics

Short-term devices and techniques. Compare with strategy
  

ten-card

Any card with a pip value of ten. In cribbage this is a 10, J, Q or K. Also called tenth card
 

Third Street

Holes 61 through 90
 

three counts

The scoring of your hand and crib as dealer on one deal, followed the scoring of your hand as pone on the following deal. Since these three counts occur virtually in succession (only the pegging on the second deal intervenes), your objective in the endgame is to get close enough to the game hole to win with your final three counts. This concept is the basis for board strategy in cribbage
 

three-on-one, two-on-one, two-on-none, etc.

A situation at the end of the pegging where the player to play next has more cards than his opponent
 

21-24 rule

A rule of thumb for assessing the safety of a low card lead from a 1/3 lo-mid hand such as 2-6-7-8. In general, the low card is safe to lead if the total pip value of the hand is between 21 and 24
 

26 theory

Board strategy developed by DeLynn Colvert, based on the assumption that the average combined scoring for dealer and pone is 26 points per deal
 

toss

Discard
 

touching cards

Cards adjacent in rank, such as 2-3, 5-6 or 10-J. Compare with near cards or edge cards
 

Tournament Trail

One of the three components of sanctioned play in North America (Grass Roots and ACC Internet cribbage being the others). Consists of an annual season of sanctioned tournaments, generally held on weekends at various locations throughout the year. Master Rating Points earned at these events determine national rankings, National Championships and titles such as Master, Grand Master and Life Master. Administered by the American Cribbage Congress
 

triple

In pegging, to play the third consecutive card of a rank
 

valley cards

Joseph Wergin's term for mid-cards
 

wide cards

Two cards separated by several ranks, such as 3-Q. Compare with touching cards, near cards and edge cards
 

winner

In pegging, any card your opponent might play that will let you score with your next card. Compare with loser
 

winning cuts

The number of individual starters that give you enough points to win on your first count. Used as a measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations
 

winning ranks

The number of cut ranks (A through K) that give you enough points to win on your first count. Used as a measure to help find the optimal discard for pone in specific count situations
 
x In cribbage, shorthand notation for an unspecified ten-card. Note that this is the opposite of how this symbol is used in bridge notation
 

?

1. A poor play
2. A decision point in a cribbage quiz
 

??

A blunder
 

!

A good play
 

!!

A brilliant play
 

*

Denotes the dealer when a score is given. For example, 60-67* means you have 60 points, opponent has 67 and opponent is on deal
 

Cribbage Forum features articles on cribbage strategy and tactics by Michael Schell, ACC Bronze Award winner, 2001 Washington State Champion and winner of other accolades in Internet and over-the-board cribbage. Cribbage Forum is a project of schellsburg.com. Publisher: Michael Schell. Editorial Assistant: Lauren Marshall.


Original Material and HTML Coding Copyright  2002-12 by Michael Schell. All Rights Reserved.