I've been playing cribbage for a greater portion of my lifetime, and until recently I haven't really played any games where the rules and customs varied much from what I was taught by my grandfather. Every online reference I've read, and electronic version of the game, has generally agreed with my understanding of how cribbage is played and scored.

So, it was a strange moment when I was playing against an uncle from the other side of my family and found that he expected the scoring of "his nobs" and "his heels" to be opposite of what I'd learned.

By common rules, "his nobs" refers to when any player holds a Jack in his hand which has the same suit as the starter card. "His heels" is awarded to the dealer when the starter card itself is a Jack. Both my uncle and I agree on this. What we disagree on is the value of each. I (and, it seems, most of the rest of the world's cribbage players) understand "his nobs" to be valued at one point, and "his heels" at two - my uncle believes the reverse.

I imagine he's probably been playing cribbage for longer than I've been alive, so this has me wondering: Is this a common variant in cribbage rules? Are there others like this?

  • I suggest explaining the following motivation for assigning points in that way. If you have the Jack that is the same suit as the starter card, you get 1 point. But if a Jack is the starter card, then nobody has the opportunity to earn that point. So, the dealer is given the benefit of the doubt as if they had the Jack in each of their hands (their hand and the crib), so they get 2 points. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 19:15

1 Answer 1


This is not a common variation that I have heard of, and research on multiple cribbage sources seems to agree that Knobs (starter hand jacks) are always 1 point and heels (or flipped/dealer jacks) are 2 points.

This may very well be a case of a small player group misunderstanding or altering the rules. Rules for games like cribbage can often be changed in the same way that playing a game of "telephone" or telling a story by word-of mouth can change the original wording in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

  • 3
    My family has a cribbage board where the track is the shape of the numbers "2,9". Guess they'd have to get a "30" to play with this variant! Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 16:23

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