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When playing the cards, Ace is worth 1. When counting runs, A 2 3 is worth 3. I've often played with Q K A also being worth 3. I've even played with K A 2 being worth 3! Definitely good ways to get more points in the game (you know, if you need that kind of thing), but it seems (from looking through the rules) that Ace should always be low and never anything else. This is, however, merely insinuated by "Ace is 1" and the examples of A 2 3 and J Q K.

Finally, the question: Is there any definitive discourse on Ace always being low and why that is? Perhaps "Ace is high" is a common variant?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Aces are low in cribbage. Their point value is one in pegging and in adding up to 15 during pegging, in the hand, or in the crib. The American Cribbage Congress' Rules of Cribbage define a straight as "a sequence of three or more consecutive cards", and the card order is shown with King as the highest descending normally through Ace as the lowest.

I've never heard of Ace being played high in cribbage, so from my personal experience I don't think it's a common variant, but you could definitely play it that way as an uncommon variant! I don't think it would change the game a great deal.

As far as reasons for Ace being only low, I would use the consistency argument as in your answer. There's no inherent inconsistency in scoring if you think of the order of cards being circular rather than linear, but it does introduce a discontinuity in value. To be consistent, you could play with Aces as in blackjack, taking either 1 or 11, but that would probably make them overpowered, especially in the pegging. And that would introduce more complications, such as would a A 10 4 be counted as one 15 or two? All-in-all, it's more straightforward to stick with the traditional: Ace's value is 1, and it is low.

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Definitely, Ace is always 1 and never 11, never considered it being worth 11. Allowing it to be part of a run with Q K A seems to put a couple more points into the game, that's an effect I've seen. It shows up significantly in a Q K A 4 hand being worth 7 points instead of just 4 points. Slightly higher average point values in hands. –  Task Aug 8 '12 at 20:45
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The best reason I can see for making Ace low and only low is that if you don't then you create the possibility of a hand like this: Q K A 2 3 being worth 6 because it's two runs of 3 and not a single run of 5 like all other runs without doubles. Consistency!

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If you were to play "around the corner" in cribbage (allowing a straight as you describe) there's no reason it would be different from any other 5-card straight. –  Gregor Aug 8 '12 at 18:44
    
Yeah, if Ace was both high and low then it would be a 5 card straight, with K A 2 being a valid 3 card straight. If Ace was high or low (but not both) then K A 2 is not a valid straight but Q K A is one straight and A 2 3 is another. If you follow me. –  Task Aug 8 '12 at 20:40
    
Ah, I see what you mean. –  Gregor Aug 8 '12 at 22:24
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