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As far as I can remember, I've always played with the rule that first deal (and thus first crib) alternates between players. However, I recently played on a site that employed the rule that the loser of the previous game gets first deal.

I then looked for "official" rules, and the only vaguely official reference I could find was the American Cribbage Congress's rulebook. I did Ctrl+F for "match" and couldn't find a definitive answer there, with it only specifying rules for first deal of the match in rule 4.1(a):

The dealer of the first game of a match (see definition in rule 1.6) shall be determined by cutting the pack (see rules 3.1 and 3.2).

This sort of implies by omission that the dealer of subsequent games is determined differently, though rule 3.1 contains "When cutting for the first deal of a game," which seems to imply otherwise.

I assume when people play tournaments that this is at least known in advance, but is there a standard way of dealing with first deal after the first game? (sorry, couldn't resist the pun)

I'm most interested in the standard 2-player game.

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It's found in Rule 1.5 - Outline of Playing Sequence of your rules link:

(a) If the qualifying round has a cut-for-deal format, the pack is cut to determine which player deals first in the game; the low card wins. If the qualifying round has alternate-deal format, there is no cut to determine the first dealer. In an alternate-deal situation, the tournament director must announce the procedure to be followed in determining the first dealer and how subsequent first deals are to be determined.

So it varies by tournament based on a decision by the Tournament Director. The inference I draw is that serious competitors do not regard the choice has having a significant effect on match results.

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  • Interesting, thanks! The quoted rule differentiates between cut-for-deal and alternate-deal formats (which it didn't seem to define). However, that lead me to search the site more carefully for tournament-specific stuff and I found a tournament director's guide. On pg. 10 it clarifies somewhat that cut-for-deal means each game's deal is cut for, and in alternate-deal the last game is cut for. These are both non-intuitive approaches to me, and the latter seems to contradict 4.1, but there it is.
    – DPenner1
    Jun 26, 2022 at 5:35

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