Who Goes First in Cribbage: Unraveling the Mystery

The Intriguing Game of Cribbage

Cribbage is a captivating card game that has been enjoyed by millions of players for centuries. Its unique scoring system, strategic gameplay, and element of chance make it a favorite pastime for many. However, before delving into the intricacies of this beloved game, one must first answer an age-old question: who goes first in cribbage? In this blog post, we will explore various methods to determine the starting player and shed light on this mysterious aspect of cribbage.

A Traditional Approach: Cutting Cards

One commonly used method to decide who goes first in cribbage is cutting cards. Each player takes a deck or half-deck (depending on preferences) and simultaneously selects a card from their own pile without revealing it to their opponent. Then, both players reveal their chosen cards simultaneously. The player with the lowest-ranking card gets to go first.

This traditional approach adds an exciting element of suspense right from the start as players eagerly anticipate revealing their hidden cards. It also ensures fairness since luck plays a significant role in determining who wins the initial advantage.

An Equally Balanced Coin Toss

In search of alternative ways to determine the starting player? Look no further than everyone’s tried-and-true method – flipping a coin! This simple yet effective solution requires nothing more than a fair coin and two eager opponents ready to embark on their thrilling journey through cribbage.

To perform a fair coin toss:

1. Assign heads or tails to each player.
2. Flip the coin high into the air.
3. Allow it to land naturally on any surface.
4. Observe which side is facing up after it lands.
5a) If it’s heads-up – Player A goes first.
5b) If it’s tails-up – Player B goes first.

The beauty of this approach lies in its simplicity and impartiality, as the outcome is entirely up to chance. It adds an element of excitement while ensuring fairness between players.

Letting Age Decide

In some social settings, cribbage enthusiasts opt for a more light-hearted method based on age. This method leverages the concept that wisdom comes with time and grants seniority to the older player.

To use this approach:

1. Determine each player’s birth year.
2. Calculate their ages accordingly.
3a) The elder player gets the honor of going first.
3b) In case both players are the same age, resort to any previous methods mentioned here.

While tying priority to age can be a playful way to decide who goes first, it should always be implemented with mutual consent and respect amongst participants so as not to offend anyone involved in the game.

The Modern Approach: Rock-Paper-Scissors

If you’re seeking a contemporary twist for deciding who goes first in cribbage, why not turn to everyone’s favorite hand gesture game – rock-paper-scissors? This universally-known decision-making technique injects an element of fun into determining turns within various games and competitions.

Here’s how you can utilize rock-paper-scissors:

1. Players face each other directly.
2. On the count of three or after saying “rock-paper-scissors,” both players simultaneously form one of three hand gestures: rock (fist), paper (open palm), or scissors (two fingers extended).
a) Rock beats scissors
b) Paper beats rock
c) Scissors beat paper

Whoever has chosen the winning gesture gets rewarded by earning their rightful place as the starting player in cribbage!


Now that we’ve explored several methods for answering who goes first in cribbage, it’s evident that the choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and the dynamics of gameplay. Whether you opt for traditional methods like cutting cards or embrace contemporary approaches such as rock-paper-scissors, what matters most is to embark on an enjoyable cribbage experience with your opponent.

So gather your cards, shuffle the deck, and let fate decide who will seize that coveted starting position in this captivating game called cribbage!