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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cribbage is awesome again

I really enjoy Cribbage. I've done a little bit of reading about strategy and so on, but basically I just like to throw the cards down and make lots of noise. My particular favorite is a variant four-player Cribbage invented by Patrick Bunch.

Rules for Traditional Four-Player Cribbage
I'm going to assume you know how to play two-player Cribbage, but you don't know how to play four-player Cribbage. Unless otherwise specified, the rules are just like two-player cribbage.

There are two teams of two players each. Teammates sit across from each other. As with traditional Cribbage, one player is the dealer. The dealer shuffles, and the cards are cut by the player to the dealer's right. The dealer deals five cards (instead of six) to each player. Each player discards one card (instead of two) to the crib. This results in four cards for each player, and four cards for the crib.

The player to the dealer's left leads the first card, and play proceeds to the left. Play proceeds like traditional Cribbage.

Cards are then scored in this order: Left Pone, Dealer's Partner, Right Pone, Dealer, Crib.

Deal moves to the left. Play proceeds.

Four-Player Cribbage, PBunch Style
Patrick introduced this variant that we'd no longer play without: In the space after the deal and before the discard to the crib, each player takes a card from his hand, and passes it across the table to his partner. A player may not pick up the passed card until he has passed a card himself. After both teammates have passed cards to each other, they can look at what they got, and discard accordingly.

So take a moment and consider some of the benefits:
  1. Every player is given an extra opportunity to make his hand work.
  2. If your hand is weak, but you have a 5, 6, 7 or 8, you can give it to your partner. In fact, we've observed that a tendency to break apart pairs in a mediocre hand can more often result in an overall benefit.
  3. Partners who pass the same card to each other can pause to see who will dump their passed card to the crib, preventing a free pair to the opponent, or ensuring an easy pair (or fifteen) for themselves.
  4. You can learn a little bit of information about your partner's hand by what he passes you.
    • Mind you, this isn't Bridge, so there's only so much you can learn.
  5. Scores tend to be a little higher than traditional four-player Cribbage, so games go a little faster.
Zach's Double Cribbage
This is a variant of the PBunch rules. Each player gets six cards. They pass two to their partner. Now, instead of dumping a card to a crib, players dump one card into one crib, and another card into a second crib, owned by the pones! This eliminates most of the advantage for being the dealing team, and you can save good cards for yourself.

The order of scoring is Left Pone, Dealer's Partner, Right Pone, Dealer, Pone's Crib, Dealer's Crib.

I haven't played this variant, so I can't really tell you if it's any good, but it seems a little too crazy for me. My one thought is that this tends in slightly lower-scoring cribs, but there are more of them. We shall see.

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